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Vaudeville, Mickey & Judy  

Vaudeville, Mickey & Judy Beginning with an exploration of the fascinating world from which two Hollywood legends – Mickey Rooney & Judy Garland emerged – Vaudeville, we will then learn what made them such a memorable duo. Highlights: Rare clips of iconic vaudeville stars, Mickey’s film debut at age 7 and Judy in her family’s vaudeville act at age 6, and the impressive screen test that won her a movie contract at age 12. Plus: captivating musical moments from the films they appeared in together (staged by the wildly inventive Busby Berkeley), and a TV reunion in their 40’s where they playfully mocked those early flicks. Class 1 The Crazy Conglomorate Know As Vaudeville In this session we’ll cover how vaudeville was a patchwork mix of Italian Commedia del arte, British music hall, American burlesque, the circus, the rodeo and the minstrel show. We’ll also take a look at the strange and convoluted history of this racially insensitive form of entertainment and why it lasted in American films well into the 1950’s. Included will be clips of such show biz legends as Al Jolson, Eddie Cantor, Fanny Brice, Ray Bolger, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson and more. Class 2 Babes In Arms You’ll learn about Mickey & Judy’s similar backgrounds as kids from families in vaudeville. You’ll see them each performing as youngsters as well as their first pairing together in the film “Thoroughbreds Don’t Cry”. We’ll then take a look at the first of the four major Busby Berkeley directed musicals they starred in at MGM: 1939’s “Babes in Arms”. It has a combination of Rodgers & Hart songs from the original Broadway production plus new songs written for the film by producer/lyricist Arthur Freed and his composer partner Nacio Herb Brown Class 3 Strike Up The Band And Babes On Broadway With a delightful score by George & Ira Gershwin and special songs by musical director Roger Edens “Strike Up the Band” is a great showcase for Mickey & Judy’s versatility. You’ll see Mickey’s talent as a drummer/percussionist (he could have been a pro) both his and Judy’s ability to move from the dramatic, to satiric and their exquisite comic timing. Great clips from your instructor’s favorite Mickey & Judy film “Babes on Broadway” include a performance of a terrific Academy Award-winning song that best demonstrates the exquisite chemistry between the two young stars. Another remarkable scene shows Mickey faking the extremely complex fingering of a stringed instrument that he could not actually play. (The actual sound was provided by a trained musician, but Mickey had nearly everyone fooled!) Class 4 Girl Crazy and Words & Music “Girl Crazy” with a score by the Gershwin Brothers is the last of their 4 films directed by Busby Berkeley. It’s filled with familiar Gershwin tunes and features the most over-the-top finale in the history of black and white motion pictures. “Words & Music” is the bio-pic about Rodgers & Hart, in which Mickey portrays the legendary lyricist Lorenz Hart. Judy has a cameo as a singer from the 30’s who does two terrific Rodgers & Hart numbers in the film. Class 5 A Walk Down Memory Lane In this class we’ll look back at Judy work in films before teaming up with Mickey. Included will be the captivating screen test that won her a movie contract at age 12 and short clips of some of the films she made shortly thereafter. Home movies and newsreel footage of the duo during the early 40’ will be shown as well as a rare clip of 21 year old Judy performing with pianist Jose Iturbi. We’ll end with a rare TV appearance by Mickey on Judy’s 1963 TV show. Mickey shows his gift as an impersonator and both do a hilarious spoof of those movies they made together in the 1930’s and 40’s. Bonnie Weiss, M.A. is a seasoned theatre educator and professional speaker. She teaches musical theatre appreciation for S.F. State, U.C. Berkeley and Santa Clara University OLL. She has taught at S.F. Conservatory of Music, and has written for The Sondheim Review and Stage Directions. Bonnie holds a B.A. in theatre education and an M.A. in counseling psychology, both from NYU.