|Born||in Culver City, Los Angeles, California, USA|
|Died||in Woodstock, Vermont, USA (heart attack)|
|Birth Name||Gwyneth Evelyn Verdon|
The Superior Posterior
|Height||5' 4" (1.63 m)|
Mini Bio (2)
Gwen Verdon was born to the theater. Her mother, Gertrude, was a vaudevillian and dancer. Her father, Joseph, was an MGM studio electrician. She had to wear corrective boots as a child to straighten out her legs, which were misshapen by childhood illness. Nonetheless, she first appeared as a tapper on stage at age 6. She got her break in Bob Fosse's "Damn Yankees" in 1955. She married Fosse in 1960 and separated from him, although never divorcing him, in the mid-'70s. More stage and screen work quickly followed with highlights in "New Girl In Town", "Redhead", "Sweet Charity", and "Chicago". She and her daughter, Nicole Fosse, created the current stage musical "Fosse". Upon her death, Broadway dimmed all of its marquee lights in tribute.
- IMDb Mini Biography By: John Sacksteder <email@example.com>
Born Gwyneth Evelyn Verdon in Culver City, California to British emigrant parents, Joseph William Verdon (1896-1978) and Gertrude Lillian Verdon (nee Standring; 1896-1956), she had one brother, William Farrell Vernon (1922-1991). Her father was an electrician at MGM and Gertrude was a former dancer and vaudeville veteran. When she was a child, young Gwen was afflicted with rickets, a disease that left her legs so badly misshapen that she was called "Gimpy" by other children and had to wear orthopedic boots and stiff braces. Gertrude Verdon placed her daughter in dance classes at the age of 3 in hopes of strengthening her legs and improving her carriage. By six years of age, the little girl was studying many dance forms (ballroom, Balinese, tap, jazz, juggling, flamenco) with Clara Reid.
She attended Hamilton High School in Los Angeles, where she was cast in a revival of "Show Boat". However, she shocked her parents and instructors by abandoning her budding career to elope with a tabloid reporter, James Heneghan. The marriage lasted five years and produced a son, Jim Henaghan, who was entrusted to the care of his maternal grandparents. Verdon went back to work in 1948 as an assistant choreographer to the temperamental Jack Cole, whom she helped with shows like "Magdalena" and "Alive and Kicking". Although she landed a few small film roles as a "specialty dancer", she was more often delegated to instruct such actresses as Jane Russell, Lana Turner, Betty Grable and Marilyn Monroe.
Cole cast Verdon in his show "Alive and Kicking", but the show was a bitter disappointment to both Cole and Verdon and closed quickly. Verdon returned to Hollywood to raise her son and teach dance. However, 1953 brought 28-year-old Verdon a big break in the Cole Porter musical "Can Can", which was choreographed by Michael Kidd. Her role as "Claudine" in "Can Can" brought her a Tony. At the conclusion of the "Garden of Eden" number, the house went wild. Verdon left the stage, went to her dressing room and changed into her bathrobe. The audience would not stop applauding until she took another bow... which she did--dressed in her bathrobe. The ostensible star of the piece, Lilo, was not pleased at being outshined. Verdon's next role was as "Lola", the sexy, volatile seductress in "Damn Yankees", a role choreographed by Bob Fosse; she also played the part in the film version.
Verdon won her second Tony for this role. Fosse chose Verdon over Marilyn Monroe. Fosse and Verdon collaborated on "New Girl In Town" and "Redhead", bringing her her third and fourth Tonys. She and Fosse wed in 1960. Verdon took a six-year hiatus to raise her daughter, Nicole Fosse. In 1966, she returned to the stage to portray the role of "Charity Hope Valentine" in "Sweet Charity", with a Cy Coleman/Dorothy Fields score, book by Neil Simon and choreography by none other than Fosse, himself. It ran for more than 600 performances. This musical was turned into a movie in 1969 with Shirley MacLaine in the lead. Verdon coached MacLaine throughout. Verdon and Fosse legally separated in 1971 due to Fosse's serial infidelity, but never divorced. They remained close friends and worked together on "Chicago" (Verdon's last Broadway show), in which she played "Roxie Hart", as well as the musical "Dancin'" and in Fosse's autobiographical film, All That Jazz (1979).
In recent years, Verdon and her daughter, Nicole, collaborated to create the Broadway show "Fosse". Along with her two children, Verdon had four grandchildren and one great-grandchild. She continued to instruct dance and musical theatre up until 1999. Unfortunately, on October 18, 2000, while visiting her daughter in Woodstock, Vermont, Verdon died in her sleep, aged 75, from natural causes. That same night, the lights on Broadway were dimmed in honor of her passing.
- IMDb Mini Biography By: Ashley Phipps/Robert Sieger
|Bob Fosse||(1 April 1960 - 23 September 1987) ( his death) ( 1 child)|
|James Henaghan||(1942 - 1947) ( divorced) ( 1 child)|