Hollywood Flashback: Bob Fosse Met Gwen Verdon on 'Damn Yankees' in 1955

Damn Yankees (1958) -  Bob Fosse, Gwen Verdon- Photofest-H 2019
Courtesy of Warner Bros./Photofest

The famed dancer and director-choreographer will serve as the subjects of the upcoming FX series 'Fosse/Verdon' premiering on April 9.

Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon — the subjects of Fosse/Verdon, premiering April 11 on FX — first met on the 1955 Broadway production of Damn Yankees.

They also worked together on the 1958 Warner Bros. film version, of which The Hollywood Reporter said, "Laughs came thick and fast and the musical numbers went over big." (The Culver City-born Verdon had her own special relationship with THR: In 1942, at age 17, she eloped with Rambling Reporter columnist James Henaghan, with whom she bore her only son. They divorced in 1947.)

Verdon is widely thought to have been the best dancer ever to flicker jazz hands on Broadway. And the same could be said of Fosse as a director-choreographer — though he was always neck and neck with his contemporary, the legendary Jerome Robbins. But only Fosse managed to win the three biggest directing awards in one year: an Oscar for 1972's Cabaret, an Emmy for Liza With a Z and a Tony for Pippin.

The couple, who wed in 1960, went on to work together on Broadway's Cabaret, Chicago and Sweet Charity. And even after their 1971 separation (brought on by his constant philandering), they remained friends and never divorced. Verdon was walking with Fosse on Sept. 23, 1987 — on the way to Washington, D.C.'s National Theatre, where his revival of Sweet Charity was about to open — when he died of a heart attack. He was 60. Verdon died at 75 in 2000 in Woodstock, New York, at the home of their daughter, Nicole.

This story first appeared in the April 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.