If you lived in La Land, or the Valley, in the 60’s and 70’s, then Dick Shawn and Barrie Chases’ dance scene nails the essence of the place. Whom ever you visited, one was on the lookout for folks to get half-naked after smoking some pot, and get you out of your chair. This was the big cultural divide that Herb Caen pointed out in his SF column. I can’t believe my generation is exiting, stage left, without honoring Herb in some manner.
I danced the Bolero for Marilyn, with no shirt on, in 1962 for her fifteenth birthday. I used to dance in front of a mirror before and after I went to school. I choregraphed my moves. This is why I think the dance scene in MMW, is one of the best to come out of Hollywood. I think someone should take ‘It’s a Mad Mad World’ to Broadway.
I am trying to find an explination to Shawn’s masterful routine. He was not a pro. I suspect he improvised after watching Barrie do her take on a Wanton Beatnik Babe. If so, we are looking at genius. I suspect Jonathan Winters helped with improvisation. How many takes in the phone toss? There is a cut scene where Barrie dances to strobe lights.
Barrie became Fred Astaire’s dance partner. They dated. He saw how fluid and relaxed she was. She was his Last Muse……..His Last Hurrah!
We need a 24-7 Dance Station that we can turn to when Don ‘The Liar’ opens his lying mouth. There is no lying in dancing!
She danced on such live TV programs as The Colgate Comedy Hour and The Chrysler Shower of Stars. It was while she was working as Jack Cole’s assistant choreographer at MGM that Fred Astaire asked her to be his dancing partner on An Evening with Fred Astaire. She made four television appearances as Astaire’s partner in his television specials between 1958 and 1968. The two danced on Hollywood Palace in 1966. During this period, she dated Astaire, a widower.
On April 17, 1987, during a performance at University of California, San Diego‘s Mandeville Hall—including his portrayal of a politician reciting such campaign clichés as “If elected, I will not lay down on the job”—Shawn suffered a fatal heart attack and collapsed face-down on the stage. The audience initially assumed that it was part of his act; but after he had remained motionless on the stage for several minutes, a stage hand examined him and asked if a physician was present.
After CPR had been initiated, the audience was asked to leave the auditorium, but most remained, still assuming that it was all part of Shawn’s act. Many began leaving—still unsure of what they had witnessed—only after paramedics arrived. A notice in the following day’s San Diego Union newspaper clarified that Shawn had indeed died during the performance. Dick Shawn was 63. He is interred at Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery, a Jewish cemetery, in Culver City, California.