Verdon Va-Va-Voom.Posted: December 19, 2008
Just in time for the holidays, here’s another installment in my Great (Hot) Girl Dancers of the Twentieth Century series. The first YouTube contains a twofer of numbers by the great Gwen Verdon in the film version of Damn Yankees, recreating the Lola she originated on Broadway. In the opener, “A Little Brains, A Little Talent,” notice how little she moves. By which I mean, notice how little she has to move to create an effect. Small movements this well-calbrated are, I imagine, as difficult (if not more) to pull off than large ones. Every little thing she does is magic.
As a bonus, here’s Gwen before she was Gwen. As Gwyneth Verdon, she was a featured dancer in the Danny Kaye comedy On the Riviera. Here she is, alone, at the beginning of “Rhythm of a New Romance,” although her distinctive voice (one of her best features) is dubbed by Veola Vonn* — possibly because Verdon at this point couldn’t pull off the French accent. (Her real voice can be heard uttering one word, “Gesundheit,” later on in the video.) In every tableau in this long production number, just keep looking for the amazing redhead.
*Dubber info courtesy of the stunningly comprehensive Ray Hagen’s Movie Dubbers List.