by DFernando Zaremba
After World War II, Fosse and his first wife, Mary-Ann Niles, formed a
dance team and appeared in nightclubs, television and stage musicals.
His Broadway performing debut came in 1950 in a revue called Dance Me a Song, and in 1952
he was Harold Lang's understudy in the title role of a
Pal Joey revival, a role which he later assumed when the show went on
Fosse came to Hollywood in 1953 upon signing a contract with MGM.
There, he danced and sang in three musicals, including
Kiss Me Kate
He also appeared in (and choreographed)
My Sister Eileen
and married his second wife, dancer/performer Joan McCracken, at that time.
When his acting career stalled out, Fosse returned to New York, where
legendary Broadway producer-director George Abbott hired him to work out
the dance numbers for
The Pajama Game.
United with Abbott by a kindred
aesthetic sense, Fosse was to find the show an ideal vehicle for his
brand of dancing.
The Pajama Game was a major
success, and Fosse not only won the Donaldson Award for his work, but his
efforts also netted him his first Tony Award. The following year, he took home
his second for Damn Yankees (he
eventually win ten).
It was while collaborating on Damn Yankees that Fosse first met Gwen
Verdon, who would soon become his third wife. The two danced together
in the film-version, which he also choreographed, in the "Who's Got the
Pain?" number. By 1959, he was directing his first musical for the
Broadway stage, Redhead, starring his
Fosse and Verdon worked together quite a bit...