Suggested Reading List
BEFORE THE PARADE PASSES BY: GOWER CHAMPION & THE GLORIOUS AMERICAN MUSICAL
Author: Gilvey, John Anthony
Description: During the Golden Age of the Broadway musical, few director-choreographers could infuse a new musical with dance and movement in quite the way Gower Champion could. From his earliest Broadway success with Bye Bye Birdie to his triumphant and bittersweet valedictory, 42nd Street, musicals directed by Champion filled the proscenium with life. They touched the heart and stirred the soul with a skillful blend of elegance and American showmanship.
He began his career as one-half of Americas Youngest Dance Team with Jeanne Tyler and later teamed with his wife, dance partner, and longtime collaborator, Marge Champion. This romantic ballroom duo danced across America in the smartest clubs and onto the television screen, performing story dances that captivated the country. They ultimately took their talent to Hollywood, where they starred in the 1951 remake of Show Boat, Lovely to Look At, and other films. But Broadway always called to Champion, and in 1959 he was tapped to direct Bye Bye Birdie. The rest is history.
In shows like Birdie, Carnival, Hello, Dolly!, I Do! I Do!, Sugar, and 42nd Street, luminaries such as Chita Rivera, Dick Van Dyke, Carol Channing, Mary Martin, Robert Preston, Tony Roberts, Robert Morse, Tammy Grimes, and Jerry Orbach brought Champions creative vision to life. Working with composers and writers like Jerry Herman, Michael Stewart, Charles Strouse, Lee Adams, and Bob Merrill, he streamlined the musical making it flow effortlessly with song and dance from start to finish.
John Gilvey has spoken with many of the people who worked with Champion, and in Before the Parade Passes By he tells the life story of this most American of Broadway musical director-choreographers from his early days dancing with Marge to his final days spent meticulously honing the visual magic of 42nd Street. Before the Parade Passes By is the life story of one man who personified the glory of the Broadway musical right up until the moment of his untimely death.
DANNY KAYE - KING OF JESTERS
Author: Koenig, David
Description: You remember the red-haired zany from the holiday favorite White Christmas ... the lovable storyteller Hans Christian Andersen ... the daydreamer Walter Mitty ... the tongue-tied Court Jester ... Now step behind the camera during the making of these classic movies.
Packed with never-before-published anecdotes and photos, Danny Kaye: King of Jesters takes the first-ever behind-the-scenes look at the creation of his film, TV, radio and stage work, and at the secret life of the incredible performer behind them.
As the first performer ever to be personally requested by His Highness to headline a Command Performance, Danny Kaye was literally both King of Jesters and Jester of Kings. But his was a life built on much more than buffoonery, for he could conceivably master any discipline he committed himself to singing straight or scat, dancing, comedy, even the culinary arts and humanitarian efforts, indeed anything he put his mind to.
It took years for him to be discovered in show business because he could do too much and proved impossible to classify. So, too, his particular genius required absolute concentration, so absolute that everything and everyone around him usually vanished. Consequently, he ceded management of his career to others, finally hyper-aggressive songstress Sylvia Fine, who would catapult Kaye to stardom and become his lifelong coach, content provider, and wife.
Although he reached princely heights as an entertainer, his six-decade career in show business never resulted in an accurate biography or analysis of his work. Danny Kaye: King of Jesters provides both. Based on decades of research and interviews, the book clears up previous misconceptions about Kaye, right down to his birthday. Even more, it is a fun, backstage look at the making of his greatest roles, recounting the production of all of his films, his weekly TV series, radio series, Broadway roles, and the best of his work off-Broadway, in audio recordings, and TV specials.
GOWER CHAMPION: DANCE AND THE AMERICAN MUSICAL THEATRE
Author: Payne-Carter, David
Description: Gower Champion's career spanned the years during which American musical theatre was transformed from a crude popular entertainment into a sophisticated art form. As the director and choreographer of Hello, Dolly!, 42nd Street, and other Broadway musicals, he was central to that transformation. He came of age during the zenith of American musical theatre production and made his mark on both sides of the curtain. As a dancer, he gained notoriety through his work with Jeanne Tyler and Marjorie Belcher, and his experience as a performer gave him a solid foundation for his later success as an organizer of memorable productions. As a choreographer and director, he became known for spectacular numbers that blended dance, staging, and elaborate scenography. More than anyone else, he seemed to realize that the achievement of a musical depended on those spots where music, dance, lighting, costumes, and staging created a sustained narrative and emotional flow through sound and motion rather than words. This book provides the first extensive treatment of Champion's life and legendary career.
The book falls neatly into two main sections. The first discusses Champion's career as a performer, with chapters on his early Broadway appearances and his work for MGM Special attention is given to how his experiences as a dancer prepared him for the later half of his career. The second examines his work as a choreographer and director and is organized around the musicals with which he was involved. Each chapter consists of a history of one or more of those productions, from original concept to opening night and sometimes beyond, as Champion, ever the perfectionist, sought to improve on what everyone else thought was already perfect.
I REMEMBER ME
Author: Reiner, Carl
Description: "I Remember Me" weaves an American tapestry of colorful tales, beginning with the timid musings of a young boy on the verge of becoming a man in the Jewish section of New York's Bronx neighborhood, and bringing us up to date with the mature insight of a man whose remarkable trajectory has sent him to the top of Hollywood's elite and sparked the careers of dozens of household-name entertainers. Along the way, Reiner treats his loyal readers to everything from the ordinary to the truly unforgettable: a family trip to a nude beach, French lessons with Mel Brooks, a chapter dedicated to Rinnie the dog who unfortunately mistakes a skunk for a cat, a surprise early-morning visit from the McCarthy era FBI, a heart wrenching story of loss describing the day of his wife's passing, and then in a revealing chapter of Reiner's character, he describes "the most theatrically triumphant day" of his young career.
Through his memoir, we meet the man behind the success in roles rarely seen before: son to Romanian immigrant Irving Reiner, husband to fellow Bronx native and renowned singer Estelle Reiner, father to the prolific filmmaker Rob Reiner, Dr. Annie Reiner psychoanalyst & gifted singer, and Lucas Reiner, a globally recognized fine artist.
Written with the same combination of playful jest and modest humility that has garnered the love and respect of fans for generations, "I Remember Me" remembers the creative and inspiring journey of one of the most revered comedic icons of the past hundred years.
IT'S GOOD TO BE THE KING:THE SERIOUSLY FUNNY LIFE OF MEL BROOKS
Author: Parish, James Robert
Description: This book traces the extraordinary life and career of Mel Brooks, who has ridden a wave of show business success perhaps unsurpassed by anyone of his generation. Offering many insights into the wacky world of Brooks and his many collaborators, as well as an intimate look into his successful marriage to the brilliant and beautiful actress Anne Bancroft, It's Good to Be the King might just be the most delightful, engaging, and entertaining biography you'll ever read.
MY ANECDOTAL LIFE: A MEMOIR
Author: Reiner, Carl
Description: More than once, Carl Reiner has had friends say, Hey, Reiner, you ought to write those things down. And at eighty, he finally has.
In this funny and engaging memoir, one of the best raconteurs on the planet recalls his life in show business in short comic takes. Reiner tells of how, after answering an ad for free acting classes on his brother Charlies advice, he forsakes a budding career as a machinist for an acting career. In Sidney Bechet and His Jazz Band Meet Franz Kafka, he captivates the legendary jazz man and his band with an unusual reading of The Metamorphosis, during a thunderstorm at a Catskills resort in 1942.
Reiner also recalls the highlights of the succeeding decades: his first sweaty audition, impersonating a dog impersonating movie stars; his forays into the theater; his work on Your Show of Shows and The Dick Van Dyke Show during TVs golden days; and his long friendship and collaboration with Mel Brooks which gave birth to the Two Thousand Year Old Man.
In A Recipe to Remember, he recites a recipe for cream cheese cookies to a star-studded audience that includes Paul Newman, Leonard Bernstein, and Barbra Streisand. In The Gourmet Eating Club, he gives an insiders take on the now-legendary group that included Mario Puzo, Joseph Heller, Zero Mostel, and other luminaries.
Mary Tyler Moore, Sid Caesar, Mickey Rooney, Johnny Carson, Cary Grant, Dinah Shore, Ann Bancroft, Jean Renoir the list goes on and on also appear in what Reiner calls the literary variety show that captures the highs and lows of his extraordinary life. Through it all, Reiner displays the wit and warmth that have made him one of the most beloved figures in the entertainment business. This charming memoir will delight anyone who wants a behind-the-scenes look at five decades of Hollywood and television history.
SEESAW: A DUAL BIOGRAPHY OF ANNE BANCROFT AND MEL BROOKS
Author: Holtzman, William
Description: Theirs is the rarest of relationships--a marriage of two highly individualistic professionals that survived their widely divergent and successful careers in the uncertain world of show business. This book is a parallel account of how these two grew separately but came together in an at times difficult, if often exemplary, marriage. Will Holtzman has written a delightful "seesaw" portrait of Mel Brooks and Bancroft.
THE SECRET LIFE OF DANNY KAYE
Author: Freedland, Michael