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Charles Walters & John Darrow

Charles "Chuck" Walters (November 17, 1911 – August 13, 1982) was a Hollywood director and choreographer most noted for his work in MGM musicals and comedies in from the 1940s to the 1960s. The fact that he was gay and relatively open about it, for the time—sharing a home with his longtime partner John Darrow, a prominent Hollywood agent—didn’t seem to hinder his success. John Darrow’s name was listed for events as Chuck’s plus-one. Darrow was a Hollywood agent, so there would have been another reason for him to be there, but people knew that they were living together in Malibu, and they’d show up as a couple. Walters was discreet, but he wasn’t dishonest. (P: CHARLES WALTERS - INSCRIBED PHOTOGRAPH SIGNED CIRCA 1938 - DOCUMENT 289577)

He was born in Pasadena, California, and educated at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles.

Charles Walters is notable for directing many popular and successful MGM musicals, such as Good News, Easter Parade and High Society, featuring some of the studio's biggest stars, including Judy Garland, Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Peter Lawford, June Allyson and Esther Williams.

Before directing feature films, Walters was one of the leading dance directors at MGM. Among the movies he choreographed are Meet Me in St. Louis, Best Foot Forward and Girl Crazy (in which he partnered Judy Garland on-screen).


Charles Walters with Judy Garland and Gene Kelly, circa 1949. COURTESY OF THE JOHN FRICKE COLLECTION
Charles Walters was a Hollywood director and choreographer most noted for his work in MGM musicals and comedies in from the 1940s to the 1960s. The fact that he was gay and relatively open about it, for the time—sharing a home with his longtime partner John Darrow—didn’t seem to hinder his success. John Darrow’s name was listed for events as Walters' plus-one. Darrow was a Hollywood agent, so there would have been another reason for him to be there, but people knew that they were living together in Malibu, and they’d show up as a couple.

He received a Best Director Oscar nomination for the 1953 film Lili starring Leslie Caron, for which Caron was also Oscar nominated. He also directed Debbie Reynolds to her only Oscar nomination in the film version of The Unsinkable Molly Brown.

Walters directed the last pairing of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, The Barkleys of Broadway (1949), as well as Cary Grant in the actor's last film Walk, Don't Run, a 1966 remake of The More the Merrier. He also directed Doris Day in her last musical, Billy Rose's Jumbo.

He concluded his career in the mid-1970s, directing Lucille Ball in two made-for-television movies, and the TV series Here's Lucy.

Brent Phillips' book 'Charles Walters: The Director Who Made Hollywood Dance, illuminates Walters' private life as a gay man. Walters died from lung cancer at the age of 70. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6402 Hollywood Blvd.

Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Walters

John Darrow, born Harry Simpson, was an American actor of the late silent and early talking film eras. Born in Leonia, New Jersey in 1907, he began acting in theater with a stock company, right after graduating high school. Shortly after, he would begin his film career with a featured role in the 1927 silent film, High School Hero. After several films with featured roles, he was cast as the lead in 1931's The Lady Refuses, which co-stars Betty Compson and was directed by George Archainbaud. He would spend the next five years in leading man or featured roles, before retiring from acting in 1935. He would appear in five films that year, although four of them were produced in 1934. His final screen appearance would be in a supporting role in Annapolis Farewell. Although he retired from acting, he did not leave the film industry, becoming a very successful agent.

Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Darrow

Further Readings:

Charles Walters: The Director Who Made Hollywood Dance (Screen Classics) by Brent Phillips
Series: Screen Classics
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: University Press of Kentucky (November 12, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0813147212
ISBN-13: 978-0813147215
Amazon: Charles Walters: The Director Who Made Hollywood Dance
Amazon Kindle: Charles Walters: The Director Who Made Hollywood Dance

From the trolley scene in Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) to Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers's last dance on the silver screen (The Barkleys of Broadway, 1949) to Judy Garland's timeless, tuxedo-clad performance of "Get Happy" (Summer Stock, 1950), Charles Walters staged the iconic musical sequences of Hollywood's golden age. During his career, this Academy Award–nominated director and choreographer showcased the talents of stars such as Gene Kelly, Doris Day, Debbie Reynolds, and Frank Sinatra. However, despite his many critical and commercial triumphs, Walters's name often goes unrecognized today.

In the first full-length biography of Walters, Brent Phillips chronicles the artist's career, from his days as a featured Broadway performer and protégé of theater legend Robert Alton to his successes at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. He takes readers behind the scenes of many of the studio's most beloved musicals, including Easter Parade (1948), Lili (1953), High Society (1956), and The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964). In addition, Phillips recounts Walters's associations with Lucille Ball, Joan Crawford, and Gloria Swanson, examines the director's uncredited work on several films, including the blockbuster Gigi (1958), and discusses his contributions to musical theater and American popular culture.

This revealing book also considers Walters's personal life and explores how he navigated the industry as an openly gay man. Drawing on unpublished oral histories, correspondence, and new interviews, this biography offers an entertaining and important new look at an exciting era in Hollywood history.

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