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Bob Fosse: Troubled, Turbulent Icon

A big new biography of Broadway dance king Bob Fosse – of “Chicago,” the film “Cabaret,” “All That Jazz” – opens up a turbulent life.

Bob Fosse, center, leads the cast through an energetic dance number during a rehearsal of his musical "Big Deal" at the Minskoff Rehearsal Studios on Broadway in New York, March 31, 1986. (AP)

Bob Fosse, center, leads the cast through an energetic dance number during a rehearsal of his musical “Big Deal” at the Minskoff Rehearsal Studios on Broadway in New York, March 31, 1986. (AP)

Gustav Flaubert said “be bourgeois in your life and radical in your work.”  Broadway and Hollywood dance king Bob Fosse, says a big new biography, was radical in both.  On stage and screen, Fosse remade the American musical with his unmistakable tilted hat, splayed-fingered, high charge.  His razzle dazzle in “Cabaret” and “Chicago,” “All That Jazz” and more was laced with sex and death and darkness.  Sensual grit.  So was his life.  Dazzling on stage.  Dark and turbulent off.  A terror of failure as he commanded dazzling success.  Up next On Point:  a new life of Bob Fosse.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guest

Sam Wasson, author of “Fosse” and “Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and the Dawn of the Modern Woman.” (@SamWasson)

From Tom’s Reading List

Wall Street Journal: Book Review: ‘Fosse’ by Sam Wasson — “He was blond and slim, with a disarmingly boyish smile and the belief that everything interesting was about sex. And he had perfect timing, becoming one of Broadway’s outstanding choreographers in the mid-1950s, just as the power in the making of musicals had begun shifting from directors to dance masters. Then, too, the musical, an at times bawdy affair, was now turning openly erotic; this gave him the opportunity to experiment with taboo, creating the signature style that would make him famous.”

Vanity Fair: Q&A: Bob Fosse’s Biography: Sex, Death, and Jazz Hands — “I think everyone admires his style. No matter what you say about his movies’ content, you can’t say anything against the style. So anyone who is interested in the medium is going to go crazy for Fosse. I know that George Clooney is a huge fan of ‘All That Jazz.’ What can you say against Fosse as a stylist?”

NPR: Biography Of Director Bob Fosse Razzles, Dazzles And Delights – “‘Fosse’ is filled with the kind of inside detail that comes of substantial research, and vivid descriptions that turn the research into a sort of movie in your head. All the way from little Bobby Fosse’s elementary school disappointment when the spotlight faded on him, right through to the moment when Gwen Verdon, the love of his life, cradled Fosse’s head on her lap on a D.C. sidewalk, just blocks from an audience he was at that very moment razzle-dazzling to beat the band.”

Read An Excerpt Of “Fosse” By Sam Wasson

Playlist

Visit Our Blog For Some Iconic Fosse Routines

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  • fun bobby

    when npr does these infomercials for books plays or movies do they get some sort of a kickback?

    • jefe68

      Ah the small minded memes of an ideologue.
      Don’t you have some guns to clean or something?

      • fun bobby

        my wife was nagging me about the same thing. I will get it cleaned today hun but I have some other chores also

    • lobstahbisque

      You are why we can’t have nice things. Go away….

    • ToyYoda

      I don’t mind these segments. Actually, I like them. But, I do wish that topics of choice were not so driven primarily by what article, book, or movie has just been released.

      That’s not a knock on OnPoint (I love this show), I just wish the show drew on more sources for inspiration.

      • fun bobby

        it seems like shameless advertising that ought not to be a part of public radio.

  • traceywriter

    I danced my whole life. I actually choreographed Pippin in high school and Chicago in college. My drama teachers thought the steps were maybe a bit to provocative, but back then I didn’t know how to explain that this was Fosse! I saw Dancin with Anne Reinking when I was 14…it blew me away. How did that show come to be?

  • AW

    The guest says that Fosse visited Michael Jackson at Neverland to discuss directing Thriller, but Michael Jackson was not yet living at Neverland when Thriller was made. He goes on to disparage Michael Jackson, which seemed rather unnecessary and unfortunate…

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