Good Old Days Newsletter
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A Little Song & Dance
-- On June 22, 1955: Walt Disney's Lady and the Tramp was released in theaters around the United States.
Centered on a female American cocker spaniel named Lady who lives with a refined upper-middle-class family, and a male stray mutt called Tramp, this was the 15th animated film in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series. It was the first animated feature filmed in the CinemaScope widescreen film process, garnering it a lot of praise and attention.
At the time of its release, Lady and the Tramp took in more money than any other Disney animated feature film since the first one -- Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs -- earning an estimated $7.5 million in the North American box office. Released on VHS and Laserdisc in 1987 and 1998, and on DVD in 1999 in a limited-edition series, it was remastered and restored for DVD in 2006 and finally came out on Blu-ray in 2012. Lady and the Tramp remains a mainstay in homes all around the world.
-- On June 23, 1927: American actor, dancer, choreographer, director and screenwriter Bob Fosse was born in Chicago, Ill.
When he was a young man, Bob teamed up with Charles Grass, another young dancer, and they began to collaborate under the name "The Riff Brothers," touring theaters throughout the Chicago area. After touring for some time with the variety show Tough Situation, Bob moved to New York with the ambition of becoming the new Fred Astaire. His very first appearance with his first wife and dance partner Mary Ann Niles in Call Me Mister brought him to the attention of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. This led to Bob and Mary Ann getting a stint on the Colgate Comedy Hour. Soon after, in 1953, Bob signed a contract with MGM.
Throughout the 1950s, Bob made appearances in movies like Kiss Me Kate and Give a Girl a Break, and then he dove back into theater by choreographing musicals like The Pajama Game and Damn Yankees. By 1951, Bob and Mary Ann were divorced, and he married Joan McCracken in 1952. They divorced in 1959, and Bob then married Gwen Verdon, fellow dancer and star of many of his biggest Broadway hits.
In the late 1960s and early '70s, Bob began directing movies. His biggest hit was Cabaret starring Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey, a movie for which he won the Best Director Academy Award over Francis Ford Coppola for The Godfather.
Best known for his turned-in knees and sideways shuffling style of dancing, along with props and a prolific use of "jazz hands," Bob died on Sept. 23, 1987, from a heart attack while the revival of his play Sweet Charity was opening at a nearby theater. His dancing style and innovative choreography continues to inspire dancers, actors and playwrights to this day.
-- On June 23, 1929: June Carter Cash (born Valerie June Carter) was born in Maces Spring, Va., to Maybelle and Ezra Carter, a country music-performing family.
At age 10, June began performing with the rest of her family, known simply as the Carter Family, until they stopped recording in 1944. June's mother then decided to form the group Mother Maybelle & the Carter Sisters, first performing on the radio in Richmond, Va. June became known for her comedic talent, with her "Aunt Polly" routine becoming a highlight at all of her family's shows.
For many years, June's father refused offers from the Grand Ole Opry because it wouldn't permit their long-time guitarist, Chet Atkins, on stage with them. In 1950, Opry management finally relented, and The Carter Family (along with Atkins) became part of the Opry company. It was there June and her family met and befriended Hank Williams Sr., Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash.
Married three times, June had three children -- one with each of her husbands; each child went on to have a successful career in music. When Johnny proposed to June live on stage in 1968, June and her whole family had known him for many years. The couple received two Grammy Awards together; June received three more in 2000 and 2004. June died of complications following heart surgery on May 15, 2003. Johnny passed away in September 2003.
-- Compiled by Allison Butler