Gwen Verdon

Actor, Dancer, Singer
Petite, saucy redheaded star of Broadway musicals during their golden age in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. A child tap dancer and daughter of a Hollywood studio gaffer, Verdon took a stab at a variety of careers--from dance ... Read more »
Born: 01/12/1925 in Culver City, California, USA

Filmography

Actor (46)

Broadway: The Golden Age 2004 (Movie)

Herself (Actor)

Walking Across Egypt 2001 - 2002 (TV Show)

Actor

Bruno 2000 (Movie)

Barbara Weetman (Actor)

Ray Walston: No Antennae, Please 1999 - 2000 (TV Show)

Actor

Shirley MacLaine: This Time Around 1999 - 2000 (TV Show)

Actor

Bob Fosse: Dancing on the Edge 1998 - 1999 (TV Show)

Actor

Walker, Texas Ranger 1988 - 1989, 1992 - 1993, 1996 - 1999 (Tv Show)

Actor

Promised Land 1998 (Tv Show)

Actor

The Music of Kander and Ebb: Razzle Dazzle 1997 - 1998 (TV Show)

Actor

In Cold Blood 1996 - 1997 (TV Show)

Actor

Touched By an Angel 1988 - 1989, 1992 - 1993, 1996 - 1997 (Tv Show)

Actor

Marvin's Room 1996 (Movie)

Ruth (Actor)

The 48th Annual Tony Awards 1993 - 1994 (TV Show)

Actor

Homicide: Life on the Street 1988 - 1989, 1992 - 1993 (Tv Show)

Actor

The Very Best of The Ed Sullivan Show -- II 1991 - 1992 (TV Show)

Actor

Alice 1990 (Movie)

Alice's Mother (Actor)

Bob Fosse: Steam Heat 1989 - 1990 (TV Show)

Narrator

Dear John 1988 - 1989 (Tv Show)

Actor

The 43rd Annual Tony Awards 1988 - 1989 (TV Show)

Actor

Cocoon: the Return 1988 (Movie)

Bess McCarthy (Actor)

Nadine 1987 (Movie)

Vera (Actor)

The 41st Annual Tony Awards 1986 - 1987 (TV Show)

Actor

Cocoon 1985 (Movie)

Bess McCarthy (Actor)

The Night of 100 Stars II 1984 - 1985 (TV Show)

Actor

The 38th Annual Tony Awards 1983 - 1984 (TV Show)

Actor

The Cotton Club 1984 (Movie)

Tish Dwyer (Actor)

Legs 1982 - 1983 (TV Show)

Actor

M*A*S*H 1972 - 1983 (TV Show)

Actor

Parade of Stars 1982 - 1983 (TV Show)

Actor

Strippers 1982 - 1983 (TV Show)

Narrator

Ed Sullivan's Broadway 1972 - 1973 (TV Show)

Actor

Damn Yankees 1958 (Movie)

Lola (Actor)

Best Friends For Life (TV Show)

Actor

David and Bathsheba (Movie)

Specialty Dancer (Actor)

Dreamboat (Movie)

Girl in Commercial (Actor)

Key West (TV Show)

Actor

Legs (Movie)

(Actor)

Meet Me After the Show (Movie)

Dancer (Actor)

On the Riviera (Movie)

Specialty Dancer (Actor)

The Cosby Mysteries (TV Show)

Actor

The Jerk, Too (TV Show)

Actor

The Mississippi Gambler (Movie)

Voodoo Dancer (Actor)
Music (2)

Cocoon 1985 (Movie)

special music and dance coordinator (Music)

Damn Yankees 1958 (Movie)

("Whatever Lola Wants" "A Little Brains a Little Talent" "Who's Got the Pain" "Two Lost Souls") (Song Performer)
Art Department (1)

From Broadway: Fosse 2001 - 2002 (TV Show)

Artistic Advisor
other (2)

Meet Me After the Show (Movie)

(Choreography)

The Mississippi Gambler (Movie)

(Choreography)

Biography

Petite, saucy redheaded star of Broadway musicals during their golden age in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. A child tap dancer and daughter of a Hollywood studio gaffer, Verdon took a stab at a variety of careers--from dance instruction to reviewing the nightclub scene for The Hollywood Reporter where she first saw the legendary jazz choreographer Jack Cole's work in the late 1940s. She worked both as his assistant choreographer and principal dancer before making her adult film debut in a small part in the "Popo the Puppet" number with Danny Kaye in "On the Riviera", followed by a bit as a slave girl in "David and Bathsheba" (both 1951). Verdon became an overnight Broadway sensation as a show-stopping featured dancer in Cole Porter's "Can Can" (1953); it was her work with her choreographer and later her husband Bob Fosse, however, that made her a four-time Tony winning Broadway legend. Beginning with the seductive witch Lola of "Damn Yankees", the couple fashioned an onstage persona for Verdon that combined the disparate elements of an alluring vamp--whether prostitute or hardened murderer--with an inner sweetness and a heartbreaking vulnerability. Highlighting Verdon's unique talents--her peerless dance technique, sexy figure and fragile, wistful, slightly hoarse voice, Fosse and Verdon created a string of memorable tough gals in "New Girl in Town", "Redhead", "Sweet Charity" and "Chicago" before Verdon voluntarily retired from active dancing in the mid-1970s. Although legally separated from Fosse, she continued to work with him as an assistant choreographer and dance supervisor on his "Dancin'" (1978) and the 1987 revival of "Sweet Charity", during rehearsals of which he died in Washington with Verdon at his side.

Relationships

James O'Farrell Henaghan Jr

Son

Bob Fosse Actor

Husband
Married on April 3, 1960 separated in 1971 never divorced and remained friends and collaborators until his death from a heart attack in 1987

Nicole Fosse

Daughter
widowed when her husband was killed by a drunk driver had three children

James Henaghan

Husband
married in 1942 divorced in June 1947

Joseph Verdon

Father
worked at MGM Studios British

Gertrude Verdon

Mother
British

EDUCATION

trained as a dancer by her mother, E Belcher, Carmelita Marrachi and Jack Cole

studied acting with Sanford Meisner after "Damn Yankees" opened in 1956

Milestones

1998

Oversaw the award-winning stage production "Fosse: A Celebration in Song and Dance"

1996

Appeared in "Marvin's Room"

1990

Played Mia Farrow's mother in Woody Allen's "Alcie"

1984

Starred in TV pilot, "Community Center"

1983

TV-movie debut, "Legs"

1978

Was ballet mistress on Fosse's "Dancin'"

1975

Last performance in a Broadway musical, "Chicago"

1972

Non-musical Broadway debut in "Children! Children!"

1958

First co-starring film role in "Damn Yankees", recreating stage role of Lola

1953

Breakthrough Broadway dance role in Michael Kidd's production of Cole Porter's "Can Can"

1951

Appeared as a dancer in films "On the Riviera", "David and Bathsheba", "Meet Me After the Show"

1950

Broadway performing debut in the revue "Alive and Kicking", dancing with Jack Cole

1948

Assistant choreographer (with George Martin) to Jack Cole on first Broadway musical, "Magdalena"

1947

Cast by Cole in first Broadway show, Comden and Green's "Bonanza Bound"; show closed in Philadelphia after one week

1942

Film debut in "Presenting Lily Mars"

1940

Musical comedy debut as a dancer in Los Angeles Civic Light Opera Company revival of "Show Boat"

Wrote nightclub reviews for the Hollywood Reporter in the mid-1940s

By age six billed as "The Fastest Tapper in the World" and performed at Loew's State Theater on Broadway

Worked in Hollywood teaching movement to stars such as Lana Turner, Mitzi Gaynor, Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe in the early 1950s

Began appearing with mother in a dance act at age four

After divorce from James Henaghan became assistant to choreographer Jack Cole

Bonus Trivia

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"The amount of physical activity in which this frail-seeming creature indulges is perfectly flabbergasting; spinning, prancing, curvetting, she is seldom out of sight and never out of breath. Yet beneath the athletic ebullience is somthing more rarified--an unfailing delicay of spirit." --Kenneth Tynan in The New Yorker.

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Verdon was on the board of directors to the Postgraduate Center for Mental Health

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