(b Chicago, 23 Jun. 1927; d Washington, DC, 23 Sept. 1987)
US dancer, choreographer, and producer. The son of vaudeville performers he danced in burlesque from the age of 13 and performed as the opening act of striptease shows at 17. In 1940 he formed a night-club team with Charles Gross called the Riff Brothers and began choreographing for amateur productions. He made his debut as a Broadway dancer in 1950 and established himself as a professional choreographer with the musical The Pajama Game (1953, filmed 1957). With his provocative jazzy style, and unsentimental, even acid tone, he became one of the most sought-after choreographers of musicals and films and a profound influence on succeeding generations of theatre choreographers. In his later works he was director and choreographer, including Sweet Charity (1966), Cabaret (the film, 1971), Chicago (1975), and Dancin' (1978). His film All that Jazz (1979) was a frankly autobiographical portrayal of a workaholic Broadway director with a heart problem and it featured his most aggressively erotic dance number Airotica. In 1986 he wrote, staged, and choreographed his final musical, Big Deal. A compilation of his greatest dance numbers was presented in the Broadway show Fosse (dir. Tod Haimes, 1999).
Subjects: Performing arts