Speaker When I first met Jerry Rice, I was in one touch of Venus with A.T.M. and a couple of us went over to audition for Jerry Robbins because he had done fancy free, which I had seen. And I saw him in a lot of things. But we went and auditioned and he took me and people said, how come he took you? I don’t know. I guess he likes bangs. And people laughed a lot. And I was 16, 17. I didn’t know what they were talking about. Anyway, I went I was there and we went to the labor stage, which was downtown on 30 something street. And we had the studio and we were all there, terrified, of course, with admiration and all that and fear. And he came in and he said, OK, my name is Jerry, not Mr. Robbins. I can be late. You can’t. And I said that to Jerry once. Much later, I said, you know what you first said? The first thing you ever said is, no, I don’t want to hear it. But anyway, then we did we started doing a thing about the subway. We were in a line just eight girls, maybe in a line with our backs to the audience. And we did a kind of a sashay kind of thing that was to be the movement of the subway. And that was my first. Time with him, and then I was in on the town and he he liked me, he gave me all kinds of little extra things to do. And once he said, oh, well, and if there are only two of you, he got over that later. Anyway, that was a wonderful experience. And I was with, you know, Betty and Adolph and Lenny Bernstein then came in with his cap over his shoulder and just threw us all into a tizzy. We were in love. Both of them. All of us were in love with both of them.

Speaker Do you remember your audition at all? That was who was auditioning for Jerry Brown.

Speaker I was trying to think about that. My want my audition was like it was, of course, ballet. It was, I think, a preparation and do a couple of pirouettes. And I, I don’t really remember.

Speaker OK, um, you mentioned the creative team impression. That was quite an amazing creative team, but they were very young.

Speaker The creative team was extraordinary. It was all 26 year olds, actually. I think Adolph was maybe twenty seven, but Jerry was twenty six. Lenny was twenty six. And I don’t know about Oliver Smith. Um, he might have been twenty six too. It was kind of. No you don’t think so. Maybe anyway, it was it was such an amazing thing to fall into that group. They were so smart and they were so funny and they were so wonderful and we were all just awed and in love with all of them, actually.

Speaker How do they relate to each other?

Speaker How did they relate to each other? They related. As far as we knew, they were fine now later in on the town when I left, I replaced Sono. When she left was the star and played mistranslations for Jones and then I married Adolph or he married me. And so I. I saw a lot of relationships. I think they were all fine. I guess if they didn’t get on, they didn’t show it to us. I mean, in the beginning I was in the chorus. You didn’t know much. You just followed along and tried to do your best, that’s all.

Speaker Tell me about Albert. Who was he? What was his job on the show and what was your impression of George?

Speaker Albert was the director. He was very tall, rather good looking man with bright blue eyes and grey hair and quite stern. We thought, oh, no, I don’t remember him very much in in on the town. Oh, I do remember when when they gave me the part of the song as part. Then I asked for a certain amount of money, which I thought was fair, maybe it was what she got and he said, young lady, when you can bring the audience into the theater, that’s when you’ll get more money we’re giving you. And he named a thrice. And I said, OK, thank you, Mr Abbott. I don’t remember him there very much. I worked with him later in. Where’s Charlie? And that was different.

Speaker So mostly you worked with Jerry as opposed to have it?

Speaker Yes, I mostly worked with Jerry because I was a dancer and we had all kinds of dancing. We had different dances and I had little bits in and all of them.

Speaker Do you have any sense of how Abbott and Jerry work together?

Speaker I have no idea how Jerry and Abbott worked together or got along. I’m sure that Jerry was very respectful of Mr Abbott because everybody was in those days since he was so young.

Speaker What was Jerry like in.

Speaker Jerry.

Speaker Was 26, and he was a wonderful dancer and he was very demanding in rehearsal, he really wanted what he wanted and he would show you and you would say, oh, and then you would try, if you were a dancer, to be him. You tried to get as close to what he was doing and feeling and being as you could. You sort of imitated. That’s what dancers do, actors know, but dancers do that. And he was wonderful to imitate because he was great. He was funny. He was a beautiful dancer, musical. He was so musical, which was something, you know, I remember a time on the train going to Boston in LA. I was still in the chorus and we sang Fancy Free Jerry and a couple of us and me, and we just sang the whole ballet because we knew it. But he was he was a genius. He was a genius.

Speaker Excuse me, since you’re talking about it. What was he like socially, socially?

Speaker I think he was he was great fun. I remember going to a party at his house and there was a lot of talk was there. And it was kind of he was giggling a lot. You know, he giggled a lot. He laughed. He was funny. So he was very sweet, socially and funny. I know I didn’t see much of the bad side of Jerry, which I know there there was. And I didn’t see it except in Miss Liberty. Well, that was a different story and it wasn’t terrible.

Speaker What kind of atmosphere did he create versus.

Speaker I don’t know what kind of atmosphere he made. He was stern and his way and funny, and you never knew what was going to happen, but you really paid attention because he wanted you to be very, very strong and good. He wasn’t going to let you get away with anything.

Speaker How big was it in those days? This was nineteen forty four when you did on the forty five.

Speaker Forty four. Was it 40 at the end of forty expansive. It was also forty four. Yes. Earlier that year. Yeah. So, so quick that the show came together. That’s right.

Speaker Is that different. You much more recently you participated in Jerome Robbins Broadway. How were those days different in terms of putting a musical on than they are now.

Speaker I how I don’t know how that how it’s different now, I didn’t I wasn’t even in the Broadway I went to try to remember Mr. Mallott, but I was well, for example, did Jerry show in Jerome Robbins Broadway?

Speaker He had, oh, I don’t know, four, six assistants or something. How did he function in on the town? Did he where the resistance was there a.

Speaker Staff or was it just Jerry or I’m trying to think whether he had an assistant in on the town? I don’t think he did. No, I don’t think so. Just Jerry. And it was enough.

Speaker What do you what did you observe? I don’t know if you did, but what did you observe about his relationship with Lennie at the time?

Speaker Oh, what was his relationship with Lenny? I really I think there were parties sometimes that Lenny Styles and Jerry was there and Nancy Walker was very funny and all that. Everybody had a very good time. I don’t know what their professional relationship was, if they were fighting over numbers or what should happen or music or. But I think they appreciated each other because they were all so funny and smart. I think they had a great time together.

Speaker You’ve worked in your career with some great choreographers, right? You worked Balanchine at the mill. How would you say that Jerry compares to them in terms of what it’s like to what it was like to work with him and what he demanded of you?

Speaker Oh, my. It’s a difficult question. Um, if you want to know the difference between Jerry and Balanchine and Bob Fosi and. And Agnes, how is he different? I don’t know that I don’t know how he was different. I don’t know that he was different. They were all very, very demanding. And they made you do it over and over until it was right. Not Balanchine. Balanchine. Well, it was in wears Charlie with Bolgar and me, and he was just as sweet as pie. He was so sweet and easy. And Jerry could be sweet, but he he was really after what he was after. It seems to me. And Balanchine just was relaxed and kind of Russian, you know, he was very sweet. I met him in the elevator once of my building and he was going up to see another Russian lady at the top of the elevator. And I I gave him a hug and I said, oh, George, you still smell so good.

Speaker And he went because there was somebody else in the elevator.

Speaker And I thought, oh, yeah, but he did. He had a very particular cologne that I just thought was wonderful. He was a darling, George. I did call him George. I called him George. It seemed to be OK. Wow. Yeah, fresh kid, I don’t know, it seemed all right.

Speaker Um, OK. He would never have I mean, he would never have corrected you, but it’s just so shocking.

Speaker I know. Yeah, no. Well, I know why. I know why I called him George. I called him George because I was married to Adolf and I was you know, he called him George and everybody called him George backstage. And the the group that was the producers, you know. So I called them George. What I know that was his name.

Speaker So just getting back to on the town. Yeah. There wasn’t I don’t know if you remember this, but I think that there was a time late in the rehearsal process when things apparently were not going so well and Jerry left the show.

Speaker Do you remember that?

Speaker Oh, and another choreographer was actually brought.

Speaker No, I don’t remember that he eventually came back. He wasn’t going to.

Speaker Did he go to see his analyst? That was I think he did. That was Jack Cole that did that. And another show, I think Jerry. Was it Jerry? I don’t remember.

Speaker Yeah. Um, tell me about that. Tell me about New York. New York. You, Jerry, is very good at opening numbers. Tell me about that one.

Speaker Oh, New York, New York, the opening. Where there’s a man singing about having to leave his bed and his his lady and yawning and just sort of waking up and then suddenly, boom, these three sailors came down the gangplank and made it into heaven. Yeah. And then they sang this wonderful song. I don’t know how it happened. You know, you’re asking me.

Speaker Were you. No. No, you weren’t. No. No.

Speaker Now, this I know you’re now. So no one had a voice coach, Madam Dile, and tell me the story of Madam, and then she created something of a challenge for people, right. Tell me about.

Speaker You want me to tell you about Madam Dilli and how it relates to Jeremy?

Speaker Oh, and his response was.

Speaker Well, I don’t know. I remember her. Not arriving for a matinee and people trying to find her.

Speaker Tell me where she was. You want her name? She was of voice coach.

Speaker No, she was you mean Madam Dilli was her voice coach in the show, but she was her voice coach, really?

Speaker I don’t think so. I don’t know. I don’t think what she I thought I thought she was. I don’t know that she was, but she was she was found in the gutter drunk.

Speaker And they brought her into the I shouldn’t tell you this story, should I say she was drunk and they brought her into the theater and they were trying to sober up with coffee and this and that. And Nancy Walker said, no, no, no. I know how you sober her up. I know. But no, it wasn’t Nancy Walker. It was Nancy Walker’s dresser who said I can fill her up. And she went to her husband, who was one of the carpenters or something in the show, stagehand, and had him up and in a ball, in a glass. And they made her drink it and she sobered up. Didn’t know that magic, did you? I didn’t either. I don’t know whether it’s true. Well, it’s true. That’s what happened because I have no idea. I don’t think he was there.

Speaker Now, at some point in the show’s run, you replace Sonor with Mr. Stiles, right?

Speaker Work with you on the part I don’t recall him working on when I replaced. Oh, no, I don’t recall. He must have. But I don’t remember, it is not funny. I knew the part, of course I knew, you know, when you were a kid, you know, everybody else’s part, and I certainly knew someone else.

Speaker How would you describe the importance of.

Speaker Well, the importance of oil in the town is that it was one of the first shows to have blacks and whites dance together, and we never thought anything of it, of course, but most people did because it wasn’t done and it was just automatic. I mean, it was nothing even much said about it. Just he put the dancers together and one was black and one was white or not necessarily. Then there were whites and whites and blacks and blacks, but it was all mixed up and. It seemed right for the labor station, it was very progressive. But I think that’s the first one where that happened. Also, the integration of songs and book happened with Oklahoma. So Agnes started that, but they continued it because it didn’t stop. Like, I don’t know most of the shows and musicals of that time, they’d stop the book and stop the story, which was usually not very interesting anyway. And then they’d sing a song. No, these songs and these dances as well furthered the plot. And I think that maybe that was one of the most important, even more than Oklahoma. It really furthered the poor, the plot.

Speaker And I was new, whose idea was it to use an integrated?

Speaker Whose idea to use a unintegrated cast? I have no idea. I don’t know, I should know that because Adolf wrote it, but I don’t know.

Speaker Um, I think the other thing I wonder if you could address before we leave on the town is that how did it portray women in a slightly, perhaps stronger way than had been done in musical theater previously?

Speaker About women. Betty, of course, was an anthropologist, and so she was a professional woman and she did her own thing and the.

Speaker I don’t know it there was a little old lady that kept going by with an umbrella and in one with strobe lights on her, and she was a recurring character, the little. Well, I don’t know how they use it for something else, but the little old lady was there. I don’t know.

Speaker I don’t know whether it had a social context or not about women.

Speaker The women were all they were all had careers, I think, of one sort or another. Right. And they were pretty intelligent.

Speaker Yes, that’s true, Nancy Walker had a taxi. They were aggressive, actually, they were all after the man. I don’t know about Miss Turnstyles, so she wasn’t necessarily aggressive. Well, she had aspirations where she was all things to all people. What was she could do anything. She was a fading flower and a bear, and she was good at but, you know, she was. There was a whole number about that.

Speaker What was the audience? And the critical reception to the show.

Speaker The audience adored the show they carried on, it was a big, big hit. I remember the stage, the company manager said, if you need tickets, go to the box office and say you in the show and they’ll let you buy tickets.

Speaker So I went around to the front and there was a box office man. His name was Al Hildreth. I happened to remember and I said, I’m in the show. And he said, How nice for you.

Speaker I said, I want to buy tickets. And he said he was kind of cool about it. He just sort of blew me off with how nice for you. And so I ran around backstage and I talked to company manager and he had to get the tickets.

Speaker And I was very timid in those days, you know, but it was a huge, huge hit. Adolph was so pleased that it was hit that he suddenly, suddenly thought, I have money now. And he ran down to Steinway Hall on 50 some street.

Speaker And he went in looking, as he usually did with his collar turned down and kind of disheveled. And so I looked and they sat down at one of the pianos and he started to bang on it. And he couldn’t play the piano at that point. And a man came over and said, Can I help you? And he said, Yes, I’ll take this one. They did. He he learned to play the piano much later. Years later, I think after we were married, even after we were divorced, we were no longer married. He learned to play the piano, but he was a genius. Adolph was a musical genius. And he and Jerry used to sing stuff and Mark Blitzstein. There was all kinds of fun and games with music, they were all just so brilliant. I was agog.

Speaker There’s there’s some wonderful footage from the reconstruction of Jerome Robbins Broadway of, um, uh, you got me.

Speaker Yes, you got me, gabey, the liberal bumper. Yeah.

Speaker There’s there’s a reconstruction of it where on film there’s some wonderful footage of Adolf Betty, Jerry, Chris Alexander all trying to put this number together. Really? Yes. And Adolf is. Dancing around. Oh, yeah, his heels.

Speaker He used to leap into the air all the time and then he could sing you whole symphonies, orchestrations, Lenny ousters, you know, what shall I play next concert, you know, and Adolf Hitler. They were great, great buddies.

Speaker Yeah. Is there anything else you’d like to say about the town? Um.

Speaker Oh, let’s see. Is there anything else about on the town? Well, when I when I went into the Miss Turnstiles for June thing, that was that was amazing. And we went on tour. And I think we closed in Chicago. As we were at a theater that didn’t have marquee and nobody knew that we were there, which seemed odd.

Speaker Anyway, that was, uh. And then I think I told him I got engaged then during that time, that’s.

Speaker That’s OK, so Miss Liberty, Irving Berlin, Mosshart, Statue of Liberty, Jerry, yeah, all these geniuses get along together.

Speaker Miss Libretti, their world. They were all geniuses, right? Irving Berlin, MOSSHART. Robert E. Sherwood. Oliver Smith. Jerry Robbins. And they and they were so my theory is because it wasn’t very good, but my theory was that they were all so busy complimenting one another, saying, oh, you’re the very best, blah, blah, blah, you know, you’re the best. And they did all that. And they didn’t do the work. They didn’t do the work they thought they couldn’t miss. So it wasn’t very good, and Robert Sherwood, who was adorable and sang The Red Red Robin all the time to me, kissing my foot sort of thing, he’d always be down on his knees and take my foot and kiss it and and sing The Red Red Robin comes from above the law. And he was very drunk most of the time. And evidently, Mosshart kept trying to get him to fix the book, which was lugubrious at best, and he wouldn’t most said by my my meetings with him went like this, Bob, I don’t like the scene. And Bob would say, I do. And that was the end of it. So he said he washed his hands in Philadelphia. Well, the rest of us were out there on a bobbing sea with no help because Moss wasn’t directing. And he said, well, I’m just going to direct traffic for a while, but I’ll get to the rest. You know, just let’s just do this. Just move here. Move there. And I, I, you know, he never did. So it was it was very sad. And it was it was it leads me to to my little thing with Jerry, because Moss, I said to Moss one day, Moss, God, I smile somewhere because I always bad things were happening to me, to this poor, poor, whatever my name was. What was my name is Liberty. I can’t remember my name. Was the French name Monique, Monique Dupo and poor Monique was having this problem and that problem, I said, could I smile? So he said, Oh yes, dear, do that. I said, where? So that is what you’ve got this big number. And actually, you know, and don’t you worry about your little head about anything. And I said about the number inact to. Which was supposed to be my number. He was setting it on Marussia, Maria Kaniva. I was, of course, busy, I was they were rehearsing the book then I was rehearsing the songs and I’m out of it. And I guess Jerry said I’d better put this on Maria because I you know, I can’t get her. I hope that’s the reason. Anyway, I, I saw this and I said to my maybe you better look at it. So he did. And he said, Jerry, this is the girl over here and this is Miss Liberty or you know, that’s nice. But this is the girl and he we’ve sort of sloughed it off. So I some I don’t know what Mo said to me, but I suddenly decided that I would call Jerry because Jerry was a friend of mine. I love Jerry and he loved me. I thought so I call him and I said, Jerry, what’s happened? What’s what’s the matter? He said, Well, I don’t know, Elhanan, you know, I’ve changed. And you change. People change. And I don’t know. You just you just take the starch out of me. I said what you said, yeah, I always feel you’re criticizing. So I said, well, I’m not criticizing, I’m trying my best to do there was another number in Lamplighters Serenade or something with Tommy Roll and me, and it wasn’t working very well. And I said, I’m really trying, but I’m not doing very well. What you want me to do in I mean, I’m not criticizing you. How could I criticize? So then I don’t know how it worked out, but it did. And then he then he did Mr. Monotony with Tommy Roll and Bill Bradley and me. And it was a hit. It was a show stopper. It was very hard. Jerry wants one rehearsal. He said I had just done it. And at the end I was exhausted hero. And he said, do it again now. Full out.

Speaker So we did go full out and evidently I really looked exhausted, he said, now that’s how I want you to look after in this number, which I think he thought was sexy.

Speaker You know, it was incredible.

Speaker So so anyway, it worked out and then it was great.

Speaker And then Rodgers and Hammerstein came to Philadelphia and said, you have to cut out this shows the one showstopper because it’s bad for the girls character. Well, how come she’s so sexy? I mean, this is right and I said I don’t have a character, so how can it be bad for it? And Jerry agreed with me. Now, I read something else that that Kitty Carlisle had said that Moss said, I’m going to tell him. And I told and she said and Jerry didn’t say a word. He said, no, are OK. And then went on, but I don’t remember it that way. I think he was mad. But then we did the policemen’s ball, which was a kind of a raucous little, you know, kick up your heels saying it’s OK. But monotony was a wonderful, wonderful number. That’s the one he wanted me to remember for Broadway. And I happened to be in New York because I was doing the days and nights of Molly Dodd in series. So I was in New York. I said, well, I’m here, OK, I’ll come over. And we looked at each other and he played, you know, they played the music. He had sent me the cassette and I listened to it. And it was my little bum, bum, bum, bum, bum, bum, over and over and over and over. It was nothing much. So I. I remember the entrance, I came in sideways and I did a little turn and there was nothing, and he said, And you remember anything more? I said, No, he said, I don’t either.

Speaker I giggled.

Speaker And then Bill Bradley was there and me role was not real. I don’t know where he was and Bill was there. He said, I don’t remember either. So this big, long, hard number that was such a success. God, we couldn’t remember. So then he did another version. He just did it over and it was OK, but it wasn’t it.

Speaker Wasn’t it go back to something you said before, that story about him saying and you just took the starch out, you take the starch out of me and you’re like, you’re criticizing me. You know, he was the he was very accomplished by that time, or at least he was certainly very well respected as an up and coming person.

Speaker Um, to what do you attribute that kind of you know, why would it bother him?

Speaker But the mystery about why why my seeming to criticize him, which I wasn’t doing, but what he was interpreting it that way. I found out later by reading a couple of the bios of him that he had no self-esteem. He was always afraid that he wasn’t good enough. And he, you know, I feel always felt that way, too. So I understand that. But he how could he a genius feel that way? Well, he did. So it wasn’t either of our faults. It was just one of those things. And we got over it. And then I went into ballet theater and did the, you know, the fancy free. And we flew around Paris together with Nora.

Speaker And I’m going to ask you about all those all those things that second, um.

Speaker Is there anything else before we move beyond the celebrity that you wanted to share about that?

Speaker Was there anything more about this liberty? Uh. What was the reception to Jerry’s work in the.

Speaker You said the show wasn’t very successful, but what was the result?

Speaker Oh, Jerry’s work was wonderful in the show, but the book was terrible. It was terrible. And the songs were not up to Irving Berlin Standard. They were OK, but they weren’t great. And I know well, I don’t know whether you want to. Irving met Adolf backstage one day and said, What do you think of the songs? And he said, Well, you know, you’ll do fine if it’s anything as good as what was. The thing they just done was coming out of nowhere. And he said, no, no, no. Every song on this show is going to be on the hit parade. Well, of course, none of them were. They just didn’t do the right kind of work. They were busy being geniuses. It was odd all the time. And they were geniuses, too. But they did the work because they didn’t think they were so hot.

Speaker Different. Yeah, yeah, and also there’s no formula for anything. No, no. At some point, the magic has to have.

Speaker You know, it’s hard work shrouded in those days. How did the typical Broadway dancer see Robins? I mean, there were a lot of choreographers working in and I was Jerry’s. What was Jerry’s reputation on Broadway?

Speaker Jerry’s reputation among all the gypsies in the in the world. There were different, depending on what their experience was, because he did pick on people. And if you picked on you, you were you know, you hated life. It was just too terrible. Everybody worshipped him as a genius and as a choreographer. I think everybody thought he was certainly the best one around and wanted to please him. And if they don’t please him, that was you know, they want to kill themselves. But the in general, the scuttlebutt around town was that he was just so evil, just so mean and so terrible. A lot of people said that all the time. And then there were others who he was nice to that thought he was great. You know, I was lucky. He was nice to me most. It was even nice to me and a celebrity. But he just had given up on me somehow. Or he was substituting someone else for me because I took the starch out. Misunderstandings.

Speaker You know, if he it seems like even those people who had a hard time with him still wanted to work for him and still wanted to please him, why was that?

Speaker I think no matter what what he did to you, you still wanted to work with him because he was the best and whatever you were doing was great. And that’s satisfying, you know, when you’re doing good stuff. And if you have to fight for it a little and suffer, you know, artists must suffer. So you suffered for Jerry.

Speaker Um, I read, um.

Speaker Well, we ask you this, you had by the time this liberty, you had worked with him or there was a second time you’d worked with him. Did you have a sense at that time that he might become a director? Did you see his artistry growing?

Speaker Um, when did I.

Speaker I’m chronology is is difficult for me.

Speaker So you did with him Miss Liberty?

Speaker Yes. I don’t think he was. He might have been thinking about it, but I didn’t see signs that he was directing.

Speaker Um, let’s talk a little bit about ballet theatre. Um, tell me, when you joined up and when you went.

Speaker We’re ballet theatre, and I was a guest artist and I was asked by Agnes after Miss Liberty had finished, the phone rang, it was Agnes and she said, Well, Elhanan, would you like to go to Europe? I said, yes. She said, Well, Ballet Theatre wants Rodale. I won’t give it to them unless I can pick the girl. So come to the studio and let’s see if it could be I. Agostinho So I did that and she said yes. And then I don’t know how I got fancy free to. I don’t remember. But those were the two ballets that I did on a tour that was four months and seven countries. It was wonderful.

Speaker Yeah, it was very different being in ballet theatre then than it is now. Can you kind of give me a picture of what it was like to tour with American with Ballet Theatre then?

Speaker What was it like to tour? Well, it was like one night stand, not to not too many one night stands, but it was difficult. It was during just after the war in Europe. And there was a lot of, um, there were some hotels that were had no heat. And there was we went we went in a plane. We were under the auspices of the State Department and the U.S. Air Force. So our first stop was visible in Germany and. We danced there, Nora and I roomed together, and then we would shop, she’s a she was such a shopper and and Ruthanne Coskun and and Izzy Isabel Brown, we would go shopping all the time because Nora really loved to shop. And then we went to Scotland, to the Edinburgh Festival, and we did fancy free. They didn’t like it. They didn’t like fancy free. And, you know, the Scots are very, very blunt. And I’m a Scot. So say you ask a question, get an answer. And we went we were invited to the Edinburgh Festival Club, come and have a drink. So we went and they sat us down at the table and there were some men and there and they said, well, we call your show. And I didn’t think much of it was fancy.

Speaker I said, What?

Speaker Well, they didn’t seem to like the militarism. They didn’t like the sailors that it was, you know, the Navy. And we didn’t understand that at all. But anyway, we had a good time touring with a ballet company is is a little different from other kind of touring because you’re always washing your tights and fixing your toe shoes, sewing the tips and the ribbons. And Norrick was always washing her clothes just the night before we had to take an early train and she would pack wet clothes in her suitcase. She had plastic bags or some kind of waterproof bag so she could pack those because everything was wet. I said, Nora, why didn’t you wash them yesterday? Why don’t you wait till you get. No, no, she had to do it when she did it and she put them in a bag. And you know, what was wonderful about traveling like that is that I had a huge trunk, the old kind of steamer trunk that opened with hangers and drawers and keys, secret drawers and so on.

Speaker And the the truck would come, I guess, and take your trunk and everybody else’s trunk. And they would take it and it would be in the theater or in your hotel room when you got there. And that was very different. Now you lug everything on your back. You know, it’s horrible. And I don’t know that the being in Europe right after the war was incredible. We went. We danced. What did we dance? I don’t remember. Whether it was Roday or fancy free, those are the only two ballots I did in Berlin at the Opera House, which was still standing, and the rest of it was was crumbled. It was I think it was in East Berlin, the Opera House.

Speaker And we flew in we flew into that place that you saw on television when they did the airlift. I don’t remember the name of that that airport, famous airport. And we flew in and I got myself into the cockpit with the guys to fly through. And I saw it all through the big window. We flew in through apartment buildings and things. It was a very, very tricky landing and got to that was at Tempelhof. Yeah.

Speaker And then we were then we went to the the the Opera House and we did one performance and then we flew out again. But looking at Berlin, which was rubble, East Berlin especially was just rubble was kind of an interesting thing to do. I don’t remember about the audience. I think they liked it. I think I don’t remember which ballet like we did, though, during the tour with you.

Speaker Right.

Speaker He came to Paris. He only came to Paris.

Speaker Jerry to me about Jerry, a dancer at Ballet Theatre. What roles do you remember? What was he like?

Speaker Jerry was magical. I saw him in fancy free. Of course, that was it. I also saw him, I think, in Romeo and Juliet. I saw him in the Three Virgins and a Devil with Agnes. And he was a wonderful technician. I mean, he was a beautiful dancer. I’m very good in classical things. But he was so funny, impish, and I did all kinds of different characters. So he was he was amazing. And I’m trying to think if I saw him in anything other than that before.

Speaker No, tell me what he was like in fancy free.

Speaker Oh, he was he was wonderful and fancy free. He was a kind of the Latin American one with a snap snap and downtown think the pump. He was just adorable. He was adorable. They were all wonderful. Johnny Critser. And who’s who’s the other one? Carol Lang. Yeah, they were wonderful in her language, of course, athletic and jumping and legs and so on. Johnny Critser was lyrical and just smooth and beautiful. We used to just stand in the wings and watch him. He was velvet, you know, liquid velvet. And Jerry was sharp and. Precise and funny and.

Speaker Wonderful. They were wonderful. They were. That was those were the days, you know.

Speaker What do you remember about Geryon? Three virgins in.

Speaker Three virgins and a devil. He was funny and I even puckish and I don’t remember, you know, what he did, but he had a funny costume on and he was just funny. He was the devil he was for. It was a wonderful actor, character actor. Which is part of dancing, you know, or depends on the ballet, but you have to be an actor.

Speaker Tell me about your roommate on the tour and what was what was remarkable about her?

Speaker My roommate on the tour most of the time was that was Nora, OK? And she was wonderful. She was a funny girl. She was so she was such a beautiful dancer. She did Fall River Legend and a very difficult part to do with you, which the Black Swan part. And I think it was there another big ballet she did. I don’t know. And then I just wrote through was Nora.

Speaker In what way did she.

Speaker So she was a wonderful technician. She was strong as a horse and beautiful. And then she was musical and, uh, she had a big soul and she was just wonderful on stage, great stage presence and, uh.

Speaker But strong, she could do anything in what kinds of courts on not OK in kinds of parts did not excel.

Speaker Um, Nora was good at everything, actually, she could do the classical ballets, although she wasn’t physically made for that. She was stronger, more Stuckey’s not. But she could do she could do that. But then with in in acting, she was a she was a drama person. She was we used to say, if Nora has to stop dancing, she’s such a great actress that she was a great actress in ballets by Tudor and Agnes. And she was always different because she was playing characters. But they used to say, if Nora doesn’t, it can’t dance anymore, she’ll be a great actress. But then they heard her voice.

Speaker Because you talk like that, you know, she called me once and said, Oh, man, I said, hi, Nora. She said, How did you recognize my voice?

Speaker And she had such a Brooklyn accent. And she was but she you know, they thought, oh, well, maybe not. But she was a great actress and a great dancer. And I loved her. She was funny. She did like to shop. She liked tchotchkes.

Speaker And she was funny. You know, at some point Nora told you there was going to be a change in the rooming arrangements.

Speaker So tell me about in Paris. Jerry was there and suddenly Nora or we were going to Paris and Nora said, oh, we’re not going to Rome together this time. I’m going to Rome with Jerry. I said, what? And she said, we’re getting married. And she looked at me and I said, oh, and she said, don’t say anything.

Speaker I said, OK, so I was in the garret upstairs at the Cafe Voltaire and they were in the third floor with with the wonderful windows, the French windows onto the sand, looking, looking.

Speaker I love what the big wear the gargoyles are. And the big church. Yes, that one. Notre Dame. Yes. And so. That was OK and that was fine, I mean, Norah and I didn’t always room together every night and I was like, oh, let’s be alone this time. But this was Gerry and I and she were going to get married. And then I wasn’t dancing very much that for several days I had other friends in Paris and I was going around and I went into the theater one night and I went down the hall and I went into Nora’s room and I said, So how’s it going? And she looked up. She was making herself up. And she said, very difficult, very difficult. And I said, OK. And I left. She was getting ready to go on. And then I heard it’s not going to happen. But I we the three of us roamed around a little bit.

Speaker One second, brush your hair like there’s a fly on it. There’s a fly on my hair. Did it hit the microphone or did I fly? I heard. You did OK? Well, my bazooka would have been good, it would have been very yes. You know, you’ve got to have one. Anyway, we went we went around Paris a few times.

Speaker We went to the ball. They well, Jerry was enchanted. He got up and danced with all those ladies. And then there were Haitians or Jamaicans. It was all very exotic and wonderful and full of drums. And he got up. And I don’t remember whether Norah did. I didn’t because I was shy. But that was one night. And then we went to Walmart and we got to a little club where there was someone called Zinoviev with hair down to her knees. And she had the boyfriend who was the guitarist, and they were together. And he he would play the guitar and she would sing. And we looked at each other. We said, boy, she’s good. This girl is really good. And we thought we had discovered her. And in a way we did, because next thing you knew in New York the next year, she was a big star.

Speaker So we got up and dance. What kind of a social dance?

Speaker He got up and danced with with the the bell of People I. I never saw him do ballroom. I don’t know. I’m sure he was he could do anything on Jerry.

Speaker If it was movement, you said before we were talking about Nora discussing her engagement with you, that she said to you, don’t say anything.

Speaker Well, it was Nora said, don’t say anything because the natural reaction was, are you crazy or are you kidding or something? Of course, Jerry did have girlfriends, but he was also had boyfriends, and so he was not somebody that you really wanted to marry, you wouldn’t think, but they loved each other. They were really close. But I think for marriage, it wasn’t a good good night. You know, I just didn’t want to she she didn’t want me to say anything because she was afraid of what I would say.

Speaker What were they like together? They were laughing, laughing, laughing.

Speaker I remember going to a rehearsal of the cage. Somehow I was in New York and Jerry asked me to come and see, so I watched them together working, and they were they were great together because they had they didn’t have to speak. You know, they they knew each other so well. And, uh. It just came came along, you know.

Speaker What was the response to the cage?

Speaker I never saw actually the cage onstage because I guess I went back to California. I don’t know, I didn’t see it. I understand that there were that it was very well received, except that they thought they had differences about her character. Some. But I read a very good review that I think was probably right with that said, she just wasn’t insect. And they don’t have human feelings, they are, and she she was a good actress, she was became something else.

Speaker Um.

Speaker You said something, I just want to go back and ask you about. I read this in one of the biographies. It was the great Lawrence biography, um, that you said Jerry was not as good with actors, not as good as a director of actors as he was.

Speaker Jerry started to try to direct actors, but the the difference between directing actors and directing dancers is very, very it’s a wide gap because dancers, as I said before, do what you tell them and they try to imitate you and just give you the result, whereas the acting good acting is the indirect method. So when Jerry wanted to do, oh, dad, poor dad and or mother courage, which I did see, which was not good. He had Bill Daniels. As his assistant. And he dealt with the actors because Jerry realized that he didn’t really know how to get to get actors to do what he wanted because he would tell them what he wanted and that’s not what you do. So it’s a different technique also. He had Jerry Friedman, who helped him with the acting in West Side Story, and actually Jerry was the one who put me into West Side Story mainly. And I think Peter Gennaro came and did some of that because he did America. So I don’t remember Jerry doing I remember Jerry coming backstage in Baltimore when I was doing West Side and I was terrified and he was there, oh my God. So he came back and he came into the dressing room and he gave me a hug. And then he kind of giggled and I said, yes and well.

Speaker And he said, oh, I think you have a little too much shadow under the cheek. I was proud of you. So that’s, you know, that’s worth everything because from him.

Speaker It meant something because he’s his he’s a genius, as I said.

Speaker It was your only participation in Geras Broadway having to do with the monotony? No. Were you involved in all the town as well?

Speaker No, in Broadway, I was only there to see if I could remember monotony. And I couldn’t. You couldn’t? OK, yeah. I didn’t have anything to do with the rest. I did see the show.

Speaker Performers say, and some don’t, but some performers say that Jerry brought out the best in them. Do you think that was true of you? And if so, why?

Speaker Well, I am.

Speaker Did Jerry bring out the best in me, as others have said, I don’t know because I don’t know what the best is, you know, I know I just loved working for him and doing whatever he said and it felt good. So who knows? Maybe it was the best. I don’t know.

Speaker What did I learn from Jerry?

Speaker I don’t really know, I learned how I learned to. Work hard and.

Speaker Do.

Speaker I don’t know. I don’t know that I learned anything.

Speaker Is there anything that you would like to say about that?

Speaker Gosh.

Speaker I just wanted to tell you about the time when he was very, very ill, I was with a couple of other people who had been with Agnes in in one touch of Venus. And we were trying to remember for some university in Minnesota that wanted it, trying to remember the choreography. And there were a lot of us there. Jumpseat the lab was there, Bob Pageant. And they had worked with Jerry. And we were sitting there one day and Bushmiller came in who we had all worked with, and he said, Jerry is not doing well. And that was one day and then a couple of days later, he came in and he knelt on the ground and held on to our knees and he said, Jerry died a half hour ago. Oh, we were so all distraught. I’m very sad that he died like that because he he lost his body, you know. And even his mind, he got Parkinson’s and AIDS and it was so sad. Better to just, you know, go to sleep and wake up, not die like that. But Buzzy Miller was there. He was always there, even though they had a falling out. They got back together. And he was he was taken care of. He was there at the end with some other people and his sister, Sonia, whom I only met once or twice. But that was a sad I’m still sad. I’m so sad that I learned to die. It’s awful. But, you know, when you fulfill their town, they didn’t think so, they didn’t think so, Lanita wanted to be accepted for his serious work and they all wanted us here. We can’t lead in West Side. But he was he was wonderful. He was just. But he smoked himself to that, you know. But Jerry did do that. He took care of himself and even so, well, I to really. I don’t recall him smoking. Everybody was smoking, I guess, and I never did, so I but I didn’t notice.

Allyn Ann McLerie
Judy Kinberg
Interview Date:
American Archive of Public Broadcasting GUID:
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"Allyn Ann McLerie , Jerome Robbins: Something to Dance About" American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). July 12, 2007 ,
(1 , 1). Allyn Ann McLerie , Jerome Robbins: Something to Dance About [Video]. American Masters Digital Archive (WNET).
"Allyn Ann McLerie , Jerome Robbins: Something to Dance About" American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). July 12, 2007 . Accessed March 31, 2023


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