NON FICTION ~ Fosse Fridays

Shirley-MacLaine-and-Bob-Fosse-rehearsing-a-scene-for-Sweet-Charity.-350x447I had a vision that a man all dressed in black walked into my bedroom one night when I was living in Hancock Park, a neighborhood just south of Hollywood. He opened the bedroom door around sunrise, walked in and then closed the door. He stood at the foot of my bed and just looked at me. Then he turned to leave. I jumped out of bed and opened the door, walked down the hall looking for him. He was no where to be found. He vanished as quickly as he had arrived. He meant no harm, but what did he mean?

I was spooked by his appearance for days. I told a friend who seemed to think he represented someone in my life who had just died. No one I knew had just died. But then I remembered Bob Fosse. I convinced myself that Mr. Fosse, whose bio I had just finished, came to pay me a visit. Of course, it was him, it had to be it all made sense. But why?

It became my mission to find out. Shortly after I went to NYC for 6 months and immersed myself into Fosse culture. I found where he lived, where he lunched, where he danced. I took all the dance classes I could, even a week long workshop taught by Ann Reinking who taught a new Fosse number each day. I studied any recorded footage the Lincoln Center Library had to offer. I saw old commercials for Dancin’, poorly recorded videos of the original Pippin and all the movies that Fosse danced in.

About that time I read his widow, Gwen Verdon, had given all of Fosse’s belongings to The Library of Congress in Washington, DC. I wrote to the library and asked if I could continue my research with their archives. I was the first person granted permission to look through Fosse’s personal papers and items at the library.

For two weeks from 9am-5pm daily I’d check out box after box filled with High School year books, date books, black and white composition notebooks. First drafts of All That Jazz, letters from fans, friends, cast members. He saved everything, even carbon copies of reply letters. I searched and searched, taking meticulous notes. I learned everything I could about the man, except why he came to visit me.

On my last day in Washington DC, I found the bench in a park where he had a heart attack, then later died in the arms of Gwen Verdon. He was in Washington DC on a pre Broadway run of Sweet Charity. He died just before the curtain rose on opening night.

On Fridays I’ll post something of Bob Fosse’s that I found in his archives. Maybe this time around, I’ll figure out the purpose of the early morning visit from the man dressed all in black.

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