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Ann Miller

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Easter Parade (1948)

Ann's foray into life as a housewife was short-lived however, and when MGM's resident dance dynamo Cyd Charisse broke her leg, Ann auditioned for and won the second female lead in EASTER PARADE (1948) alongside Fred Astaire, Judy Garland and Peter Lawford. Wearing ballet slippers so she wouldn't appear taller than her partner, Ann performed "It Only Happens When I Dance With You" with Astaire but made her biggest impression with a rousing tap routine to Irving Berlin's "Shakin' the Blues Away."

Click here"Shakin' the Blues Away" (clip) (a .MP3 file courtesy Rhino Records).

On the Town (1949)

Her success in EASTER PARADE won Ann the third long-term contract of her Hollywood career, and she quickly became a regular member of producer Arthur Freed's prestigious musical unit at MGM.  After performing a specialty number with Charisse in THE KISSING BANDIT (1948), Ann was assigned to one of the best film projects of her career, Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen's musical ON THE TOWN (1949).

Featuring Vera-Ellen, Gene Kelly, Ann, Jules Munshin, Frank Sinatra and Betty Garrett (all above), ON THE TOWN (1949) was the first musical to take a significant leave of absence from MGM's Hollywood soundstages and film scenes on location in New York City.  Its lively story, open setting and energetic performances make for a fun film, and Ann is given ample opportunity to strut her stuff, tap dancing in the Museum of Anthropological History and singing "Prehistoric Man."

Music Clip from ON THE TOWN (1949):

Click here"Prehistoric Man" (clip) (a .MP3 file courtesy Rhino Records).

(For help opening any of the multimedia files, visit the plug-ins page.)

Small Town Girl (1953)

Ann's second-lead roles for MGM (which frequently featured her in some kind of 'show girl' part) continued in the early 1950s with WATCH THE BIRDIE (1950) behind Arlene Dahl, TEXAS CARNIVAL (1951) behind Esther Williams, TWO TICKETS TO BROADWAY (1951) behind Janet Leigh, LOVELY TO LOOK AT (1952) behind Kathryn Grayson, and SMALL TOWN GIRL (1953) behind Jane Powell.

SMALL TOWN GIRL showcased another of Ann's most memorable dance solos, "I Gotta Hear that Beat," in which she tapped and twirled around a soundstage full of disembodied instruments (at left).  The athleticism of Ann's tap-dancing was unparalleled among other female dancers of her era, and it was widely reported that she could record more than 500 taps per minute.

Kiss Me Kate (1953)

Ann followed SMALL TOWN GIRL with the best all-around role of her career, that of Kathryn Grayson's rival Lois Lane in KISS ME KATE (1953), a Cole Porter musical adaptation of William Shakespeare's "Taming of the Shrew."  In addition to her tap solo "It's Too Darn Hot" and duets with Tommy Rall, Ann danced "Tom, Dick and Harry" with Rall, Bob Fosse and Bobby Van.

Music Clips from KISS ME KATE (1953):

Click here"Always True to You in My Fashion" (clip) sung with Tommy Rall (a .MP3 file courtesy Rhino Records).
Click here"It's Too Darn Hot" (clip) (a .MP3 file courtesy Rhino Records).

(For help opening any of the multimedia files, visit the plug-ins page.)

Hit the Deck (1955)

The musical unit at MGM held out nobly, but by the mid-1950s, the studio system that had supported it was on the verge of collapse.  As a result, the expense of movie musicals and the growing audience taste for more realistic film entertainment combined to bring about the demise of the medium in which Ann had finally found her niche.  In 1955, Ann played a show girl named Ginger in HIT THE DECK (1955), alongside Jane Powell and Debbie Reynolds, and the following year, appeared in her last movie musical THE OPPOSITE SEX (1956) with June Allyson.

Music Clips from HIT THE DECK:

Click here"Keepin' Myself for You" (clip) (a .MP2 file courtesy Rhino Records).
Click here"Why Oh Why (reprise)" (clip) sung with Jane Powell and Debbie Reynolds (a .MP3 file courtesy Rhino Records).

Never out of the spotlight for long, when her musical career at MGM ended, Ann turned her attention to television, making numerous appearances on variety shows during the 1950s and '60s.  She spent much of the '70s and '80s on stage, including leading roles in the Broadway productions of "Mame" and "Sugar Babies" which co-starred Mickey Rooney.

In 2001, after a 45-year absence, Ann returned to the big screen and made her final film appearance as the eccentric manager of a Hollywood apartment complex in David Lynch's mystery thriller MULHOLLAND DRIVE (2001) starring Naomi Watts (with Ann at left).

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Filmography | Bibliography | Article | News | Downloads | Links | Image Credits


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Last updated: March 10, 2011.
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