Tommy Rall, a musical theatre performer known for his work on the Broadway stage and in several movies, died October 6 at the age of 90 due to congestive heart failure.
Born December 27, 1929, in Kansas City, Missouri, Mr. Rall began taking dance lessons, enrolled by his mom, at the age of four and would go on to perform as a child in Seattle vaudeville acts. Incidentally, one of his first Broadway credits was the 1948 musical comedy Look, Ma, I’m Dancin’!, choreographed by Jerome Robbins. (Two years prior, he appeared in the Robbins-choreographed Fancy Free and Interplay as part of a Broadway engagement with Ballet Theatre). His onstage collaboration with Robbins continued into the 1950s with Miss Liberty and Call Me Madam.
Having appeared in a number of bit film roles before heading to Broadway, Mr. Rall returned to the big screen as Bill Calhoun in the 1953 adaptation of Kiss Me, Kate; his performance of “Why Can’t You Behave?” opposite Ann Miller, including a rooftop-set tap sequence, remains a hallmark movie musical moment.
Mr. Hall followed up the movie with more memorable—and agile—turns, as Frank Pontipee in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and dancing alongside Bob Fosse in My Sister Eileen. Never short on notable dance partners, he’d go on to appear in such films as Funny Girl (appearing as a ballet dancer opposite Barbra Streisand’s Fanny Brice) and Pennies From Heaven (tapping with Steve Martin).
He made his return to Broadway in 1959, earning an Outer Critics Circle Award for his performance in the Agnes de Mille-choreographed Juno. He later starred in Milk and Honey and the short-lived Cafe Crown and Cry for Us All.
Mr. Rall is survived by his wife Karel Shimoff (a fellow dancer of the era) and their son Aaron Roll, Lieutenant Colonel. He is preceded in death by son David Rall.