If "Fosse/Verdon" whet your appetite for the impeccable Gwen Verdon, then Merely Marvelous: The Dancing Genius of Gwen Verdon is the three-course meal you've been craving. The new documentary—available now on Amazon for rental or purchase—dives into the life of the Tony-winning performer and silver-screen star lauded for her charismatic dancing.
Though she's perhaps most well-known today as Bob Fosse's wife and muse, that's not even half of her story. For starters, she'd already won four Tonys beforethey wed, making her far more famous in the public eye than he was at that point in his career. That's just one of many surprising details we learned during last night's U.S. premiere of Merely Marvelous. Believe us: You're gonna love her even more once you get to know her. Here are eight lesser-known tidbits to get you started.
When you're talking about a style as distinct as Fosse, a flick of the wrist or a roll of the hip is never just that. It takes intention, finesse, exactness and, of course, that characteristically smoldering sex appeal.
Now that the finale of "Fosse/Verdon" has aired, FX is taking viewers behind the scenes to reveal how the dancing came together—and it wasn't just a quick reconstruction.
Michelle Williams as Gwen Verdon. Photo by Eric Liebowitz/FX Networks
You can see them in "Fosse/Verdon" episode one. Michelle Williams, playing Gwen Verdon, wears them with a cool, retro, forest-green jumpsuit. Tucked beneath a mop top of tousled Gwen Verdon locks, Williams sports a pair of discreet and tasteful onyx drop-earrings—the dancer's favorites. Verdon wore them all her adult life, according to her daughter Nicole Fosse, a co-executive producer of the FX series that puts a spotlight on a great woman of American dance.
"I have very little memory of my mother wearing other earrings. They were her Gwen Verdon earrings," says Fosse, speaking by phone from her home in Vermont. "She's wearing them in 99 percent of the pictures of her performing."
Michelle Williams as Gwen Verdon and Sam Rockwell as Bob Fosse. Photo by Pari Dukovic, Courtesy FX
To say that we're excited about "Fosse/Verdon" might be understating things a bit. The new limited series charting the romantic and creative partnership of Bob Fosse (played by Sam Rockwell) and Gwen Verdon (Michelle Williams) was announced last summer. And, with Bob and Gwen's daughter Nicole Fosse on board as co-executive producer and creative consultant, alongside most of the Hamilton dream team (with Andy Blankenbuehler on choreography), we've had high hopes for its verisimilitude.
The creative and romantic relationship between Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon is the subject of a new series coming from FX. Photo courtesy DM Archives
The news that Lin-Manuel Miranda, Andy Blankenbuehler and Thomas Kail are working together on a new project is almost too wonderful to handle. But the creative team behind Hamilton isn't reuniting for just any old thing: They're teaming up for a dance-centric television series about Broadway legends Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon, and we cannot contain our excitement.
Apart from having won the Tony Award for best choreography, the dances in Damn Yankees, West Side Story and the 1994 revival of Show Boat have little in common.
Not the choreographers—Bob Fosse, Jerome Robbins and Susan Stroman—or the composers—Richard Adler and Jerry Ross, Leonard Bernstein, and Jerome Kern. Not the dancers, either—the standouts were Gwen Verdon, Chita Rivera and Dorothy Stanley.
The name that repeats in all three Playbills belongs to Harold Prince—a producer of the first two and director of the third.
I have always been extremely dramatic. I think "extremely" might even be an understatement. As a child, I was constantly in costume. Never clothes. Always a costume.
When I was 8 we moved into a new house, and took a home video to send to my dad's family. My siblings were performing a song for the camera. I desperately wanted to join them, but they got annoyed and said no. In the video I run out of the room crying hysterically, and you can hear my dad saying, "It's okay, Sam, you can dance for the camera later."
This is followed by about 45 minutes of me dancing. Music changes, style changes, costume changes, the works. Dance was, and still is, the best way I know how to express myself.