April 3RD 2007
(Pictured above with her brother, Buddy Ebsen. See clip of the week and obit below)
MARCH-APRIL 2007 -- FILLED!
RESERVE YOUR SPOT NOW FOR MAY-JUNE MASTER TRACK:
HOLD THESE DATES FOR UPCOMING WORKSHOPS
All workshops are held on selected Sundays throughout the year from 11:00am-1:30pm at Rebekah Hall in El Segundo 90245. Click HERE for details (as they are revealed to us!)
2007 WORKSHOP DATES
THIS IN FROM JESSICA DENSMORE
Dear Swingshift Rhythm Club,
Thank you so much for sharing your talents with us. You guys really lifted the residents' spirits. They were talking about you all week long and are looking forward to your next visit.
Earlwood Care Center
Pretty rare to get a written thank you note from a facility we visit - even more rare to have one signed by an administrator!
Thanks to all who volunteer to bring a little fun to those in extended care facilities.
A Repeat Performance at Earlwood Care Center
Saturday, April 28,'07
Activity Coordinator Joy sure is persuasive! She asked we come back "anytime" and she meant it. We have been asked to come back on
Saturday, April 28, 2007, 2pm - 3pm
Earlwood Care Center
20820 Earl Street
Torrance, CA 90502
Activity Coordinator Joy Jackson
As usual we will do a script program so you won't need to rehearse. Just show up and dance as you normally do - you will be directed as the program continues. Contact me for questions and "yea"s.
And don't forget, Jamie England's mom, Marie is looking forward to seeing you too!
Thanks, JesIF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PARTICIPATE,
Thirties Broadway dancer whose routines with her brother Buddy were rated by No‘l Coward 'sheer bliss'
Vilma Ebsen, dancer: born Bellevue, Illinois 1 February 1911; married 1933 Robert Emmett Dolan (one son; marriage dissolved 1948), 1948 Stanley Briggs (one son; marriage dissolved); died Los Angeles 12 March 2007.
Vilma Ebsen was an agile dancer who performed with her brother Buddy in the MGM musical Broadway Melody of 1936. It was her only film, though she and her brother had a notable career during the Thirties in vaudeville, in supper clubs and on Broadway, where they introduced the song standards, "A Shine on Your Shoes" and "I Like the Likes of You".
The third of five children, Vilma was born in 1911 to Danish-American parents in Belleville, Illinois, but when she was six years old the family moved to Florida (due to her mother's frail health), where her father, a former gymnastics and swimming instructor, opened a dance studio. Buddy, three years her senior, coached Vilma to partner him in an act which they performed for friends and at local functions.
In 1928 Buddy set out for New York and was given a chorus role in the Ziegfeld musical Whoopee, starring Eddie Cantor. With the show a hit, he sent for Vilma, whom he enrolled in the Jack Donohue/Johnny Boyle School of Dancing (Boyle was dance teacher and lifelong friend to James Cagney). Buddy recalled,
Vilma, with her charm, talent and quickness was an immediate sensation at the school, so when Johnny was called upon to doctor the choreography of the Vincent Youmans musical Great Day, which was trying out in Atlantic City, he took with him four of his most promising pupils - Vilma was one of them.
Though Vilma failed to win a part in the show, she was hired to perform a solo dance at a supper club, and, when the long-running Whoopee needed cast replacements, Buddy was able to get her into the show.
During their spare time, the couple put together a complete dancing act and, after Whoopee closed in 1930, they performed it at an Atlantic City night-club, where it was seen by the influential columnist Walter Winchell, who gave them an ecstatic review. They were immediately signed for a vaudeville show, Broadway Stars of Tomorrow (from which Eleanor Powell and Martha Raye had already graduated), and for two years performed in music halls (sometimes doing five shows a day) and night-clubs, culminating in an engagement at New York's Palace Theatre.
Vilma would open the act, then ask the audience "if you'all would like to meet my l'il ole brother". Buddy, 6ft 4in, would enter, getting a laugh, and his gangly frame and uncoordinated movements would make him seem an unlikely dancer. Vilma would then "teach" him, the act ending with a powerhouse display of Charleston and toe-tapping.
Their first Broadway musical was the revue Flying Colors (1932), in which they stopped the show with their routine to the Arthur Schwartz/Howard Dietz number "A Shine on Your Shoes", with Larry Adler accompanying them on the harmonica, and Monette Moore singing. (The number was later revived by Fred Astaire in the 1953 film The Band Wagon.) Winchell wrote, "Ebsens Make the Heart Grow Fonder", and Noel Coward described them as "sheer bliss". The piano player in the "pit" for the show was Robert Emmett Dolan, later a notable composer, conductor and film producer, and he and Vilma were married in 1933. (They had one child, but divorced in 1948.)
Vilma and Buddy appeared in Monte Carlo during the summer of 1933, then returned to Broadway with a featured spot in Ziegfeld Follies of 1934, the show in which Fanny Brice introduced her famed "Baby Snooks" character. The Ebsens danced to Vernon Duke's melody, "I Like the Likes of You", while Brice Hutchins and Vivian Janis as tongue-tied lovers sang the "Yip" Harburg lyrics: "You're looks are pure deluxe . . . looks like I like the likes of you".
MGM then signed them for their lavish musical Broadway Melody of 1936 (1935) and, though it had many bright moments, many critics singled out a number by the Ebsens and Eleanor Powell as a highlight. As three Broadway hopefuls on the roof of a tenement building, they introduced the Arthur Freed/Nacio Herb Brown song "Sing Before Breakfast" - first performed by just the Ebsens, who make imaginative use of a boiling percolator puffing steam on the beat as part of their routine. They are then joined by Powell, whose vivacity and joie de vivre make Vilma's personality a little pale in comparison.
Real life then mirrored so many cliched backstage musicals when MGM told Buddy that they wanted him to stay on - but not his sister. "It was a traumatic time of tears and heartaches," Buddy wrote, but it did prolong Vilma's marriage to Bobby because she went back to New York with him and, like a good wife, helped him become Broadway's pre-eminent pit conductor and later a Hollywood producer.
(Buddy Ebsen, who died in 2003, became best known for his portrayal as the bumpkin millionaire Jed Clampett in The Beverly Hillbillies, and in one episode he and Granny - Irene Ryan - reminisce about seeing "Vilma and Buddy Ebsen".)
On her return to New York, Vilma was offered a featured role in another Howard Dietz/Arthur Schwartz show, Between the Devil (1937), which had Robert Alton staging the dances, Conrad Salinger, soon to become MGM's top arranger, working on orchestrations, and three British stars. Jack Buchanan played an unwitting bigamist, with his wives played by Adele Dixon and Evelyn Laye. Vilma introduced two new songs, "5 O'Clock" and "You Have Everything", but Buchanan introduced the most durable number, "By Myself".
After the three-month run, Vilma Ebsen retired from show business, but in 1943 she and her sister Helga opened a dance school in Pacific Palisades, California. In 1948 she married the tennis player Stanley Briggs (who had a guest spot as a tennis instructor in the 1952 film Pat and Mike), and they had a son.
She and Helga continued to teach dance to youngsters until the mid-1990s. Her elder son Robert said, "It really became her life. She's got adoring students who go back for decades."
NEW PICS UP
Leaders wonder "What the heck????" -- Ron says, "It's a little tricky".
Gio enjoys his tortilla chips & salsa birthday cake! (Thanks to Captain Fun for making it!)
All Scrapbooks! Click HERE
BIG BAND LIBRARY -- This one came in from me very own pa -- Mr. Harrison Frank -- a real Big Band fan. (a pic of him from back in the day when he went out dancing in LA to all the Big Bands). Enjoy browsing around this one!
* Wondering what the heck a "gate"is? This was a phrase popularized by 1940's comedian, Jerry Colonna, who would holler it out every time he was introduced on the Bob Hope radio program. It was a friendly salutation to a swing cat (dancer or swing music enthusiast). Basically, we swing like a gate!
JOIN THE FUN!