By Kenneth Jones
17 Sep 2012
The mission of VerdonFosse.com and The Verdon Fosse Estate is "to promote, preserve, and protect the artistic and intellectual property of Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon" and "to foster and educate performers, directors and choreographers, as well as all scholars and students interested in American films and musical theatre."
With the 1987 passing of nine-time Tony winner Fosse (Pippin, The Pajama Game, Damn Yankees, Little Me, Dancin', Sweet Charity, Redhead, Big Deal, plus Chicago) at the age of 60, his estate went to his wife and longtime collaborator Verdon, the red-headed four-time Tony winner (Can-Can, Damn Yankees, New Girl in Town, Redhead, plus Sweet Charity and Chicago). Upon her passing in 2000 at the age of 75, the estate was turned over to Nicole Fosse, herself an actress and dancer.
The new site, which is still a work in progress with many new elements being added, offers video links, biographical information and personal effects and memorabilia from the Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon Collection in the Music Division of the Library of Congress.
Misinformation on other websites was one of the reasons she wanted to create this official site. "There's quite a bit of misinformation, and there's a lot of people who, on different websites, have posted all kinds of perspectives, points-of-view, ideas, which is wonderful," she said. "Everybody who has worked with Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon, they have their personal experiences, which I honor and respect. However, when it comes to people beginning to speak for Bob Fosse — they're trying to represent who Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon were — it becomes slanted. There's no official site that is estate- sanctioned for the public to cross-reference to. When you have two legendary figures, and they both passed away quite a while ago, things get watered down. I feel like it's my job — the job of the estate — to always bring it back to the original seed of where it began. …The true origins and the true facts."
Links to videos are expected to be on the site. One already posted is a video from a 1962 television appearance that shows Fosse and Verdon demonstrating "Whatever Lola Wants," her signature song from Damn Yankees, their first Broadway show together in 1955. He was the choreographer; she was the star. They both won Tony Awards for their work, and she repeated the role in the film version, with Fosse himself dancing with her in the picture's "Who's Got the Pain?" mambo duet.
Fosse was a lean, blond dancer-actor in nightclubs, films and on Broadway before he blossomed as a visionary stage and film choreographer and director; he was Tony-nominated as Best Actor in a Musical in 1964 for playing Joey in Pal Joey, a role he understudied on Broadway in 1952. In one year, 1973, he won the Academy Award for his direction of the film "Cabaret," Tonys for Direction and Choreography of Pippin and Emmys for the Direction and Choreography of the TV special "Liza With a Z." He was later Oscar-nominated for direction of the biopic "Lenny" in 1975 and for the screenplay and direction of "All That Jazz" in 1980. He won his last Tony in 1986 for the choreography of Big Deal.
"If I give a link on the website or if I reference something, the public can be certain that it has been previewed, reviewed by the estate and is sanctioned," Nicole Fosse said. "Let's say on YouTube there's two different versions of somebody dancing something my mother did, right? I may reference one and not the other. 'If you want to see the choreography, if you want to see what it was like, go to this link.' And I'll always keep it on the positive, I won't trash-talk anything bad, but I will link people to a master class workshop being taught, a teacher who is very good, video footage that is estate-sanctioned."Continued...