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Gwen Verdon

Gwen Verdon

After her electrifying performance as "Claudine" in "Can-Can", Broadway critics hailed her as the greatest Broadway "discovery" since Mary Martin sang "My Heart Belongs To Daddy".

Although she and Bob Fosse separated in '71, they remained married until his death in '87.

Although uncredited, Gwen was assistant choreographer in the film version of Sweet Charity (1969), starring Shirley MacLaine.

Before Sweet Charity went to Broadway, something terrible happened to Gwen. Her throat began hurting, but she continued to sing until she was almost completely voiceless. She was hospitalized, and it was discovered that a feather from one of the boas used for costume was wrapped around her vocal chords.

Brother: William F. Verdon

Collected glass perfume bottles.

Dance teacher in Culver City was Clara Reid.

Daughter of British emigrants to the U.S.A., who worked in Hollywood and lived in Culver City, where Gwen Verdon was born.

Did not pursue dancing as a career until 1948.

First married at the age of 17 (to a tabloid reporter).

For Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), Gwen coached stars Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe in both their dance and walk -- Monroe with less sex, Russell with more. It's rumored that at one point in the film, Verdon dubs both Monroe's and Russell's swaying bottoms.

Has flaming red hair.

Mother of Jim Henaghan (b. 1943).

Mother of Nicole Fosse (b. 1963)

Never pulled the diva act and was not overly-possessive about her award-winning stage roles. In fact she gamely coached Shirley MacLaine on the set of Sweet Charity (1969), who was recreating Gwen's title character.

Portrayed "Lola" in the stage version of "Damn Yankees!" and reprised her role in the movie, Damn Yankees! (1958).

Received further ballet training from Ernest Belcher, Marge Champion's father.

She was awarded the American National Medal of the Arts in 1998 by the National Endowment of the Arts in Washington D.C.

Suffered from childhood disease that caused her legs to be badly bent and misshapen; her mother enrolled her in dance to strengthen them.

Taught Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe to dance.