#tbt: The Choreographer Who Helped Launch Marilyn Monroe's Career

January 3, 2018

In the January 1968 issue of Dance Magazine, we had a candid conversation with Jack Cole. Though less well-known than his choreographic successor, Bob Fosse, Cole was arguably the father of theatrical jazz dance. He danced for Ruth St. Denis, Ted Shawn and Doris Humphrey and was well versed in traditional styles from other cultures (such as bharatanatyam and Javanese dance), influences he brought to his work as a choreographer first in nightclub shows and later in Hollywood and on Broadway.

He worked closely with Betty Grable, Rita Hayworth and Marilyn Monroe, perhaps most famously as Monroe’s choreographer and coach in her 1953 breakout film, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

He told us, “Whenever I see a great performance, I change. I come out of the theatre a different person and stay a different person for the rest of my life. That’s what art should do. It should shake you.”