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Hermes Pan: The Man Who Danced with Fred Astaire
     

Hermes Pan: The Man Who Danced with Fred Astaire

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by John Franceschina
 

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Armed with an eighth-grade education, an inexhaustible imagination, and an innate talent for dancing, Hermes Pan (1909-1990) was a boy from Tennessee who became the most prolific, popular, and memorable choreographer of the glory days of the Hollywood musical. While he may be most well-known for the Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers musicals which he choreographed at RKO

Overview

Armed with an eighth-grade education, an inexhaustible imagination, and an innate talent for dancing, Hermes Pan (1909-1990) was a boy from Tennessee who became the most prolific, popular, and memorable choreographer of the glory days of the Hollywood musical. While he may be most well-known for the Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers musicals which he choreographed at RKO film studios, he also created dances at Twentieth Century-Fox, M-G-M, Paramount, and later for television, winning both the Oscar and the Emmy for best choreography.

In Hermes Pan: The Man Who Danced with Fred Astaire, Pan emerges as a man in full, an artist inseparable from his works. He was a choreographer deeply interested in his dancers' personalities, and his dances became his way of embracing and understanding the outside world. Though his time in a Trappist monastery proved to him that he was more suited to choreography than to life as a monk, Pan remained a deeply devout Roman Catholic throughout his creative life, a person firmly convinced of the powers of prayer. While he was rarely to be seen without several beautiful women at his side, it was no secret that Pan was homosexual and even had a life partner. As Pan worked at the nexus of the cinema industry's creative circles during the golden age of the film musical, this book traces not only Pan's personal life but also the history of the Hollywood musical itself. It is a study of Pan, who emerges here as a benevolent perfectionist, and equally of the stars, composers, and directors with whom he worked, from Astaire and Rogers to Betty Grable, Rita Hayworth, Elizabeth Taylor, Sammy Davis Jr., Frank Sinatra, Bob Fosse, George Gershwin, Samuel Goldwyn, and countless other luminaries of American popular entertainment.

Author John Franceschina bases his telling of Pan's life on extensive first-hand research into Pan's unpublished correspondence and his own interviews. Pan enjoyed one of the most illustrious careers of any Hollywood dance director, and because his work also spanned across Broadway and television, this book will appeal to readers interested in musical theater history, dance history, and film.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"I always considered Hermes Pan to be my 'other father', and though I knew much of his story, in this wonderfully informative book John Franceschina has filled the gaps." —Ava Astaire McKenzie

"John Franceschina's Hermes Pan: The Man Who Danced with Fred Astaire restores glory to an overlooked dance genius, while also bringing back to life the golden age of Hollywood musicals. I ran out and began renting every Hermes Pan DVD I could find." —Richard Hornby, Professor of Theatre, University of California, Riverside, Theatre Critic, The Hudson Review

"The life and work of one of Hollywood's most prolific dance creators has finally been written. Above and beyond Hermes Pan's iconic partnership with Astaire on nineteen films over a period of 35 years, Franceschina gives us incredible detail on the multiple tasks a Hollywood 'Dance Director' of the 1930s'-1950's performed." —Larry Billman, author of Fred Astaire: A Bio-Bibliography, and Film Choreographers and Dance Directors

"Hermes Pan was a uniquely American choreographer. His stylish dance direction defined not only the style of Hollywood film dancing but also that of American artistic dance as a whole. Anyone interested in the history dance in America should know what is in this fine book." —James Thomas, Professor in the Department of Theatre and Dance, Wayne State University

"Interesting reading." —DC Theatre Scene

"Read this book with YouTube videos by your side." —Dance Magazine

"Hermes Pan: The Man Who Dance with Fred Astaire provides a wealth of factual information about Pan's life and his movies, with the salutary effect of sending the reader back to look again at his films with a heightened sense of the process that brought those films to the screen." —Dance Chronicle

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199754298
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
06/12/2012
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
867,810
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

The author of numerous books on theater history, John Franceschina is also a former professor of theatre at Pennsylvania State University. Off-Broadway he has served as dance arranger and musical director and as accompanist for Angela Lansbury, Elke Sommer, Nell Carter, Jan Peerce, Robert Merrill, Lotte Lenya, Paige O'Hara, Chita Rivera, and Gwen Verdon.

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Hermes Pan: The Man Who Danced with Fred Astaire 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought the book was excellent and highly recommend it. MLAB