Charles WaltersThe Director Who Made Hollywood Dance

Charles WaltersThe Director Who Made Hollywood Dance

Brent Phillips

Print publication date: 2015

ISBN: 9780813147215

Publisher: University Press of Kentucky


During his lifetime, Charles “Chuck” Walters enjoyed a reputation as one of the foremost director-choreographers of Hollywood motion pictures. From his earliest directorial triumphs, Good News, Easter Parade, and The Barkleys of Broadway, to his victorious Lili, High Society, and The Unsinkable Molly Brown, musicals directed by Walters seamlessly fuse movement, storytelling, and song. He was one of Broadway’s most prominent dancers in the 1930s, creating featured roles in Rodgers and Hart’s I Married an Angel and Cole Porter’s Jubilee and Du Barry Was a Lady. He supplied choreography for entertainment on Broadway (Let’s Face It, St. Louis Woman) and at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios in Hollywood (Meet Me in St. Louis, Girl Crazy). Especially renowned for the manner in which he showcased his stars, Walters skilfully guided Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Debbie Reynolds, Doris Day, Cary Grant, Shirley MacLaine, Lucille Ball, Esther Williams, Grace Kelly, and Joan Crawford. He enjoyed a unique rapport with Judy Garland, creating some of her most indelible stage and screen performances. Personally, Walters was one of the few “uncloseted” gay film directors to excel in studio-era Hollywood, living openly with his partner, a top industry talent agent. This detailed study is long overdue. Charles Walters: The Director Who Made Hollywood Dance corrects both the historical oversight and reassesses the career of this Academy Award nominated film director, whose boyhood dream of dance led to a firmly — and now finally — acknowledged position as a major contributor to American popular culture.