Busby Berkeley

Director, Choreographer, Shoe salesman
An innovative choreographer who freed dance in the cinema from the constraints of theatrical space, Busby Berkeley directed musical numbers that removed the confining proscenium of the stage to incorporate the fluid ... Read more »
Born: 11/29/1895 in Los Angeles, California, USA

Filmography

Director (19)

The Lullaby Of Broadway 1971 (Movie)

(Director)

Billy Rose's Jumbo 1961 (Movie)

2nd unit director (Director)

Babes in Arms 1938 (Movie)

(Director)

Hollywood Hotel 1938 (Movie)

(Director)

Men Are Such Fools 1937 (Movie)

(Director)

Gold Diggers of 1935 1934 (Movie)

(Director)

Babes on Broadway (Movie)

(Director)

Blonde Inspiration (Movie)

(Director)

Bright Lights (Movie)

(Director)

Cinderella Jones (Movie)

(Director)

Comet over Broadway (Movie)

(Director)

For Me and My Gal (Movie)

(Director)

Forty Little Mothers (Movie)

(Director)

Girl Crazy (Movie)

(Director)

She Had to Say Yes (Movie)

(Director)

Strike up the Band (Movie)

(Director)

Take Me Out to the Ball Game (Movie)

(Director)

The Gang's All Here (Movie)

(Director)

They Made Me a Criminal (Movie)

(Director)
Actor (5)

The Phynx 1969 (Movie)

Busby Berkeley (Actor)

Babes on Broadway (Movie)

(Actor)

Dames (Movie)

(Actor)

Fashions of 1934 (Movie)

(Actor)

Roman Scandals (Movie)

(Actor)
other (18)

Bird of Paradise (Movie)

(Choreography)

Broadway Serenade (Movie)

(Choreography)

Dames (Movie)

(Choreography)

Fashions of 1934 (Movie)

(Choreography)

Girl Crazy (Movie)

(Choreography)

Gold Diggers in Paris (Movie)

(Choreography)

In Caliente (Movie)

(Choreography)

Lady Be Good (Movie)

(Choreography)

Night World (Movie)

(Choreography)

Palmy Days (Movie)

(Choreography)

Roman Scandals (Movie)

(Choreography)

Romance on the High Seas (Movie)

(Choreography)

Sky Devils (Movie)

(Choreography)

The Gang's All Here (Movie)

(Choreography)

The Singing Marine (Movie)

(Choreography)

Two Weeks With Love (Movie)

(Choreography)

Whoopee! (Movie)

(Choreography)

Ziegfeld Girl (Movie)

(Choreography)
Other (12)

Billy Rose's Jumbo 1961 (Movie)

choreography (Choreographer)

Rose Marie 1954 (Movie)

choreography (Choreographer)

Easy to Love 1953 (Movie)

choreography (Choreographer)

Small Town Girl 1953 (Movie)

choreography (Choreographer)

Million Dollar Mermaid 1952 (Movie)

choreography (Choreographer)

Varsity Show 1936 (Movie)

choreography(dance direction) (Choreographer)

Gold Diggers of 1937 1935 (Movie)

choreography (Choreographer)

Gold Diggers of 1935 1934 (Movie)

choreography (Choreographer)

42nd Street 1932 (Movie)

choreography (Choreographer)

Footlight Parade 1932 (Movie)

choreography (Choreographer)

Gold Diggers of 1933 1932 (Movie)

choreography (Choreographer)

The Kid From Spain 1931 (Movie)

choreography (Choreographer)

Biography

An innovative choreographer who freed dance in the cinema from the constraints of theatrical space, Busby Berkeley directed musical numbers that removed the confining proscenium of the stage to incorporate the fluid frame of the motion picture image. His geometrically unique dances were choreographed for that ideal. After a successful career on Broadway, Berkeley helped revolutionize the musical at a time when the genre first took off, thanks to the advent of sound. He choreographed "42nd Street" (1933) and made his debut as a solo director with "Gold Diggers of 1933" (1933), while earning Oscar nominations for his dance direction for "Gold Diggers of 1937" (1936) and "Varsity Show" (1937). He eventually directed a few movies starring Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland, including "Babe in Arms" (1939), "Strike Up the Band" (1940) and "Babes on Broadway" (1941), only to have a falling out with the troubled actress on "Girl Crazy" (1943) which led to him being fired. Berkeley achieved camp infamy with "The Gang's All Here" (1943), which famously featured Carmen Miranda performing "The Lady in the Tutti Frutti Hat." After directing his last movie, "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" (1949), Berkeley was exclusively a choreographer until leaving Hollywood altogether following "Billy Rose's Jumbo" (1962). While some of his numbers were deemed overly campy by later audiences, Berkeley was nonetheless a pioneering musical director whose influence stretched across generations.

Relationships

Gertrude Berkeley

Mother
died in 1946 acted and toured with Tim Frawley repertory company

Etta Berkeley

Wife
sixth wife

Francis Enos

Father
died when Berkeley was a child

George Enos

Brother
died when Berkeley was in his teens

Merna Kennedy

Wife
married in 1934 divorced in 1935

Esther Muir

Wife
married c. 1929 divorced in 1931

EDUCATION

Mohegan Lake Military Academy

New York 1914

Milestones

1970

Returned to Broadway as supervisor of revival of "No, No, Nanette"

1969

Appeared in feature film "The Phynx"

1962

Worked as second unit director on "Jumbo/Billy Rose's Jumbo" (directed by Charles Walters)

1949

Last film as director, "Take Me Out to the Ball Game"

1946

Attempted suicide and was temporarily placed in a Los Angeles psychiatric hospital (date approximate)

1942

Choreographed the MGM remake "Girl Crazy"

1942

Served as dance director for "The Gang's All Here"; choreographed the "Lady With the Tutti Frutti Hat" number for Carmen Miranda

1937

Earned third Oscar nomination for dance direction of "Varsity Show"; category discontinued after this year

1936

Received second dance direction Academy Award nomination for "Gold Diggers of 1937"

1935

Solo directing debut (also choreographer), "Gold Diggers of 1935"; received Oscar nomination in the dance direction category

1934

Provided dances for "Dames"

1933

Signed with Warner Bros.

1933

For First National, made co-directing debut (with George Amy), "She Had to Say Yes"

1932

Loaned to Warner Bros. to choreograph "42nd Street" (1933)

1927

First success on Broadway as dance director, Rodgers and Hart's "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court"

1923

Performed and directed on Broadway and in stock before going to Hollywood

1920

Acting debut in stock company production of "The Man Who Came Back" (date approximate)

1917

Enlisted in US Army the day before USA entered WWI; served as second lieutenant in the artillery where he worked out trick precision drills for 1200 men in parade formation; served with Third Army of Occupation in Germany as entertainment officer

Briefly worked on "The Wizard of Oz" (1939)

Left MGM and moved to Fox

Worked as management trainee with a Massachusetts shoe factory

Left Warner Bros. and put under contract at MGM

Was involved in a fatal three-car automobile accident; charged with second degree murder in the deaths of three people as well as with driving under the influence; lawyers made plea to jury playing up his care of his then 80-year-old mother; cleared of al

Moved with family to New York aged three; first stage appearance aged five in "Under Two Flags"

Choreographed four films for United Artists; first film, "Whoopee!" (directed by Thornton Freeland)

Bonus Trivia

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Nicknamed after turn-of-the-century New York stage star Amy Busby.

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