Wednesday, February 14, 2018

YouTube finds: Part 1

I, like a lot of other people, can wind up wasting a lot of time on YouTube. You probably know the routine.  You just want to quickly look up one thing, and then you notice all the associated clips and it's all over. Hours later you're saying, "Just this one more and then that's it!' But the upside are the discoveries one can make. Recently, after looking at some tap clips, I decided to find clips of famous actors/performers dancing you were not known for doing tap and any related dance forms. Below are some examples. I realize that depending on your age or experience you may not know who some of these folks are, so I'll try and give a brief bio of each person.

First, we have a quintet of an unlikely line up of "tap dancers." Dean Martin was mainly known as a singer, but was a pretty good dancer. Buddy Ebsen became known on TV for his acting, but was a very good dancer and was almost in The Wizard of Oz. Lee J. Cobb was as dramatic an actor as you can get, having originated the role of Willie Loman in Death of a Salesman and not known at all as a dancer. Charles Nelson Reilly acted and also became a popular guest on game shows. Jackie Vernon was a droll comedian and, as you'll see, not a natural dancer. This clip seems to be from the Dean Martin Show from the 1960s



Doris Day (still with us at 95!) started her career as a singer with big bands and then had a movie career as singer and actress. But she was also a really good dancer. Here she is with dancer Gene Nelson from the 1951 film, Lullaby of Broadway.



Old school Hollywood had a roster of actors known for their tough guy/gangster roles. One such actor was Edward G. Robinson. Well, here he is "cuttin' up the rug" with Wendy Barrie in 1938's I Am The Law.



Cary Grant was known as the handsome, suave, sophisticated guy in the Hollywood of yore, an image he developed over the years, although he did have a knack for comedy. Even though not known as a dancer, he was quite agile because in his youth he juggled and did acrobatics with a traveling comedy troupe. Watch him (and Ingrid Bergman) move in a moment from the 1958 film, Indiscreet.



Another handsome, etc., etc., guy was Clark Gable. Well known as Rhett Butler telling Vivian Leigh's Scarlett O'Hara, "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn" at the end of the 1939 film, Gone With The Wind, he is here in a different mood from Idiot's Delight, of the same year.



Jimmy Stewart, who I would call the "Ah, shucks" guy, had quite a film career that spanned a few decades. Just google his name to find out about his films, but to see him in a rare dance moment, check this out from Born To Dance (1936). Others in the clip are Buddy Ebsen, Frances Langford, Eleanor Powell, Sid Silvers and Una Merkel.



The last example is someone who actually is a dancer, having come out of vaudeville, but also known as an actor. His name is Eddie Anderson and became quite famous on the Jack Benny Show as the character "Rochester". He also appeared in many films, including the great 1943 musical Cabin in the Sky, and this clip is from the 1941 Kiss the Boys Goodbye. The singer, Connee Boswell, was inspired by blues singer Mamie Smith and Ella Fitzgerald was inspired by Ms Boswell! Watch Mr. Anderson work the sand...



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