HAPPY FEET: An Interview with the Dancer’s Dancer, FRED CURT … But First …

Stir, never shake ...

Editor: R.T. Jordan


At BRUISES THE GIN we live to foment debate and insurrection and mildly indecent or inappropriate social behavior. Our office shrink blames the lack of tact represented in this Ezine/blog on poor potty training and/or breast-feeding that lasted far later in life than Dr. Oz  recommends.

Thanks, for the mammary ...

We’re thinkin’ the root cause of our inability to play well with others is probably the parental ridicule and punishment received while going through the anal stage in our psychosexual development (talk to Freud). Retentive? Expulsive? It’s  two, two, two mints in one!

BTG is a lot of things about A LOT of trifles––mostly anything that departs from an accepted social standard (which is actually the definition of aberrant!). So of course we went nutsy-cuckoo for the lovely and talented Neil Patrick Harris performing Adam Schlesinger and David Javerbaum’s tasty special material, Not Just for Gays Anymore, as the opening production number on this year’s Tony® Awards show. (See it here on YouTube.) Yeah, old news, but bear with us, it ties in with everything we stand for.

Who's the adorable puppy? You are! You are!

The sophisticated and campy lyrics are reminiscent of  legendary Billy Barnes’ best special material extravaganzas for the Academy Awards® telecasts in the 1970s. The Schlesinger/Javerbaum song/performance obviously scrunched up Brooke Shields’  Victoria’s Secret panties, and we’re hoping it did the same for millions of others watching.

Unable (and not really trying) to get the song (or Mr. Harris) out of our collective thoughts, we at BRUISES THE GIN are reminded that there has always been a guesstimated gazillion freakishly talented and primarily anonymous peeps out there who contribute as much as any so-called “star” to the success/flop of musicals on Broadway and in Hollywood or even church basement productions of Tits a Wonderful Life. (The exception being the Westboro Baptist Community Church with their bake and hate sale, demon roasting contest and Christian Kids Say the Most Malevolent Things Protest Sign Painting workshop, run buy the FDA rejected piece of horse meat who goes by the name of Fred Phelps.)

Ed. Note: Cick here for substantiated proof that some religions are like Raid on roaches.

Think of the anonymous tuxed-out dudes surrounding Marilyn Monroe in the Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend number from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Of course MM is lickably sensuous, but really, with the exception of shakin’ her impressive lady parts, her coterie of beaus are doing ALL the heavy lifting.

Another thought. Glee. Ya know that ubiquitous guy who never speaks but just happens to be at the piano in the McKinley High School glee club rehearsal room ready to accompany the kids whenever they want to emote with a song about the satisfaction of sticky sex and the hay ride of teen pregnancy and the transcendence of boys sniffing other boys, and whose real name is Brad Ellis? Well, he’s a hugely talented but relatively unheralded (except among his peers here in Hollywood) composer, musical director, orchestrator and jazz pianist. He’s crawling out of anonymity and it’s about time! (Also see Ron Abel at his piano on Fran Drescher’s actually sorta kinda funny new sitcom, Happily Divorced.)

Keepin' it cool, Brad Ellis.

Therefore, in this edition of BRUISES THE GIN, as much as we value our Gaga and Beyoncé and Katy Perry and Bieber (Ed. note: Totally jerking your joint about the Bieb), we’re calling attention to one of the great “Who’s that guy?” talents you’ve seen in every old movie musical (if you’re of an age) but never knew who the super talented stud was. Our guest interviewee for this edition of BTG is the dancer’s dancer and choreographer (and sweetheart of a talented guy), MR. FRED CURT.


by R.T. Jordan

“Dancing with the feet is one thing,
but dancing with the heart is another.”


You’ve seen Fred Curt in a gazillion feature films, including  Hello, Dolly!, Bye, Bye, Birdie, Gypsy, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, The Pajama Game, Paint Your Wagon, Carousel, Mame and Lost Horizon, to name only a fraction of his movie creds. How ‘bout B’way and national tours: Call Me Madam, Guys and Dolls and Pardon Our French. We can only begin to get into his television work because it’s so extensive, but we’ll mention The Ed Sullivan Show, The Mitzi Gaynor Hour

Brilliant and beautiful Mitzi Gaynor

(Ed note: we love our Mitzi and want her to play sleuth Polly Pepper in the television series adaptation of the popular Polly Pepper mystery novels!), Carol Channing Specials, Bob Hope specials, etc. Way too much for this limited space.

♠ ♣ ♦

So, let’s talk to Fred Curt. (Perhaps we’ll find out why almost everyone still says that Jerome Robbins was a dick to work for.)

A New England Yankee, transplanted at an early age from Massachusetts to Newark, New Jersey, Fred says he started dancing “After I made the fatal mistake of going with my mother to a cousin’s dance recital. I watched and thought, that might be fun. I could do all the gymnastic things on my own. So I said, instead of becoming a doctor, I’d like to try dance.”

All was well and good with Fred’s mom, but  dad was a different pair of toe shoes. “I said to my mother that I’d like to go to dancing school. She said, ‘I don’t know about your father.'”

As expected the senior Mr. Curt had what we now call a meltdown. Fred says, “He screamed and ranted, ‘I don’t want any flame …’ In the ’20s and ’30s, when he was around, ‘flame’ meant a gay person. But my mother knew how to take care of it. She pointed out, ‘Is Fred Astaire a flame?’ My father lost that one.”

Our Fred began his study by taking tap and acrobatic dance. After a few months of diligence and proving his talent and dedication, his teacher suggested that he also take ballet classes. Round two with Fred’s dad was again lost when the now tried and true, “Is Fred Astaire a flame?” retort was invoked. “I took ballet one hour a week for like three months,” Fred says. “Then the teacher said to my mother that I should come to New York on Saturdays to take her class with professionals.”

Fred in Walt Disney's feature film "Pete's Dragon"

Fred went to NYC, and although he says it was tough, he kept up with the professionals in class. Then, one day the dancers were talking about an open call audition for a Broadway show. Newbee to the theater that teenager Fred was, he asked, “What’s an open call?” The so-called “kids” explained, then suggested he go with them, if only to hang out.

“I remember it was summer,” Fred says. “I was wearing a striped shirt, and we went to the theater. I stayed out of the way watching from backstage. Near the end of the day, the people I was with didn’t get picked, so they waved for me to leave with them. As I walked across the stage, a female voice from the audience said, ‘Does the young man in the striped shirt dance?’

“Ninety people looked down at their chest and I was the only one with a striped shirt, so I pointed at myself and the voice said, ‘Yes.’ And I said, I dance a little.”

Fred reminds us that this was his first time on a theater stage and the light shining from the house made it impossible for him to see who was in the audience. “The voice said, ‘Would you dance for me?’ I didn’t want to be impolite so I said, Okay. She told me what to do and I did a few jetés. Then she asked if I could do acrobatics. I said, yes. And then she wanted to know if I could do a cartwheel. I said, One hand or two?  She asked, ‘Can you do them without hands?’ I said yes. I did the cartwheels and she said, ‘Thank you very much.’ Then I left the stage.

“As I was exiting with my friends the stage manager came over and said, ‘You. Striped shirt. Go stand at the end of that line.’ He pointed to where seven guys were on stage. I took my place and the woman’s voice asked, ‘The young man with the striped shirt. What’s your name?’ I said, Fred Curt. With a C. I stood back and waited a moment then raised my hand and lead forward. She said, ‘Yes?’ And  asked, What’s your name?

“The whole line gasped! And without a beat or hesitation she said, ‘Agnes de Mille. With a D.’ She hired me.”

Agnes de Mille

And thus began Fred Curt’s life as a professional dancer. The show was the national tour of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s musical, Allegro. After working in that production, Mr. Curt almost immediately went into another national touring company, the musical revue Inside U.S.A., by Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz, and starring the legendary Bea Lillie.

Bea Lillie

With a weekly paycheck of $85.00, and having to pay for his own accommodations on the road, Curt and his austerity-conscious fellow dancers ghosted hotel rooms to save on their dough. As he explains, “Ghosting was when one person signed for a room, and four of us would live in the room to split the costs. It worked out just fine, as long as we were all out before the maid came in!”


FC: Barbra. She was smaller than I thought she would be. Shorter. I couldn’t wait to work with her. She was wonderful to us on Hello, Dolly! She really was. I loved her, and had every album by then. I loved working with her and she was just so professional. So right on.


FC: Natalie Wood was the sweetest … she was just so real. She was the nicest person and she was one of the most beautiful women in the world. Gorgeous, sweet, so petite. I was afraid to pick her up for fear I’d break her. I cried for days after I found she had died.


FC: Roz Russell was the only reason I wanted to do Gypsy. Jerry (Robbins) called and asked me to do the role of Caroline (the cow). I (jokingly) said, I don’t do animals. Then I said I’d do the front end. I remember standing on set one day and a voice said to me, ‘Isn’t it hot in there?’ I said, Yes, Miss Russell. She was a lovely lady. I just fell in love with her. She was very arthritic and at the end of each take she had what looked like a little square silver box or bag that she’d put in between her hands, which were very crippled. It was a heater for her hands. But the minute they would say, ‘We’re ready,’ her hands would straighten out. Roz was a true professional, and so nice to everyone. A brilliant actress.


FC: Strange man. I met Bob Fosse when I was dancing on The Jackie Gleason Show, before Bob was Bob Fosse. He was very nice to me. We did Pajama Game and Damn Yankees together. In fact, I was supposed to do six weeks of work on Sweet Charity with him. He found out that Michael Kidd had offered me a year of work on Hello, Dolly! But I’m the kind of guy who if I said yes to a shorter job and a longer one comes along, I’ll go with the first. Bob was really nice. He called Michael and said, ‘Freddy’s going to come to work for you.’ I didn’t know about that until an assistant told me the story.

Bob was brilliant in what he did, but that comes from Jack Cole and from being with Gwen Verdon. If there was no Jack Cole, there’d be no Gwen Verdon, and if there wasn’t Gwen Verdon, there’d be no Bob Fosse. Bobby was good, but the Gwen Verdon touch on Bobby came from Jack Cole, all the hats and fingers, that’s Jack. Most choreographers are very nice. It’s the insecure ones that are terrible


FC: No. I don’t think Jerome Robbins was insecure. I think he didn’t know what he wanted out of life. Being gay I think scared him a lot. I don’t know. One day on Peter Pan he yelled at us all day long. Then after it was over, he called out, ‘Hey Fred!’ I was afraid to answer. He asked what I was doing for dinner. I thought oh, my god I’m getting fired. So we went out to dinner and he was very charming. But he said, ‘You know what really turns me off? When people yell at other people so much.’ I nearly fell off my chair!

But Jerome Robbins was brilliant. There was no one more brilliant as a choreographer. He could go from musical comedy to ballet to anything else. I think maybe his brilliance was the problem. But he could have yelled at me all day and I’d still work for him. It would be an honor to work for him.


FC: Oh Chita! She’s like my kid sister. We were both teenagers and first dance partners when we started. We can go for a long time without hearing from each other but then pick right up as if no time has passed. For example, I hadn’t seen her in a long time and she came to Pasadena to do Kiss of the Spider Woman. I was working wardrobe and she came walking in. I’m in the wings and she was coming in from the bright sun to the darkend theater, so she couldn’t see me. I didn’t move. Then, when she got near me I cleared my throat and said, ‘Oh, the famous diva!’ She adjusted her eyes, looked at me, and yelled, ‘Freddy!’ She  grabbed me and pulled me on stage and began telling everyone that I was her first dance partner. She went on and on and told great stories about us.


FC: I love Tommy. He’s very nice. When he came in to do Hello, Dolly! the movie, that’s when I met him. Very talented and very sweet.

¤ ¤ ¤

When one spends time with Fred Curt, it becomes obvious why he’s adored not only by his wide coterie of friends, co-workers and of course, dancers. He exudes a love for people, as well as his life and his accomplishments in the arts. We asked, What has been the highlight of your life? Without a moment’s hesitation he said, “Residuals!”

However, after a quick laugh Mr. Curt added, “I got to do what made me happy. I got to meet so many wonderful people. Dancing came from my heart. It was fulfilling. It was freedom. Even when you fell down, you picked yourself up, you laughed about it and kept going. Sometimes I was on the most glamorous movie sets. Hello, Dolly! was certainly the most glamorous I’d ever been on. Dancers who are dancers from the heart all have something in common: camaraderie. If you ever watch So You Think You Can Dance you’ll see it. The minute that someone gets picked the others are hugging them.”

Mr. Curt continues to work in the theater, although these days it’s backstage at the Pantages Theater in Hollywood, where he has been a costumer since 1985. When we indelicately asked the stupid question, When did you decide to hang up your tap shoes? Mr. Curt replied, “I haven’t, yet! I just don’t make my living as a dancer anymore.” He further explained, “One day I was somewhere with Chita, and someone asked me ‘What do you do?’ I said, Oh, I used to be a dancer. Chita said, ‘STOP!’ She looked at me and chewed me out. She said, ‘Don’t you ever say that again! Once a dancer, always a dancer!’

“Mentally you never stop. Physically, you have to. But I’ve been very lucky,” Mr. Curt concludes. “I’ve danced longer than anybody I know. Age is a state of mind. If you move to the wrong state, you’re dead,” he says with a sardonic grin.

THANK YOU, MR. CURT. It was enormous fun spending time with you.

(Ed. Note: Be sure to click on the above referenced links to see some of Fred Curt’s amazing work in Hollywood motion pictures.)

† † †


For a swell time, text The Beast at 6666666

The August 1 edition of BRUISES THE GIN elicited some curious (or perhaps not so curious) expressions of disapproval by several groups of religious servants (which was sorta/kinda the point of the piece in the first place). However, at BTG, we only truly enjoy throwing kerosene on conflagrations that are likely to further augment the flames of apocryphal rumors such as the richly satisfying and smoothly digestible one about slattern Ann Coulter contracting a STD after a slumber party at the Stonewall Democratic Club or Rick Santorum being exposed by airport security body scans as wearing alligator clips on his #2 pencil eraser-size nips or anything that reeks of political or sexual hypocrisy in Washington or your local rectory or a Hollywood celebrity colon irrigation spa.

Therefore, although the Internet is jammed with multi-gigabytes of corroborating texts tattling on The Watchtower Society for their supposed more than a century of pleasuring their biddables with a soul-scratching seven different dates for the downbeat to the Armageddon Symphony, we’ll play along and borrow a line from the lyric to the Gershwin Bros. song, It Ain’t Necessarily So.


As our Jehovah’s Witness friends remind us:

(Source: Awake! 3/22/93 pg. 4)

Armageddon, or the set of any Michael Bay movie.

With those sage words to keep us moist, we at BTG would like to acknowledge that just because a few Eeyores have assiduously chronicled the many End Times predictions faux pas from among a ton o’ so-called “prophets” throughout the past couple thousand years, we don’t wish to imply that any “true religion” has a patent on holy book(s) misinterpretations. When it comes to scripture, ya gotta take it all with a grain of what’s left of that pillar of Ruth.

Post Rapture yard work. "Daddy. Did Jesus kill Timmy because he was a homo?"

Just as we don’t know the exact moment when/if the research monkeys that are strapped to gurneys in the lab down here in the basement where we rent our office space are going to rip off the electrodes pasted to their shaved skulls and rush to disembowel the staff and snack on our respective pancreases and livers and brains, and genitals and such, the time of the end of the world as we know it is just as uncertain, and as random (and as intensely icky) as playing spin the bottle and having said bottle point to Newt Gingrich. We’re just sayin’.


In the last edition of BRUISES THE GIN, a few celebs offered up their lists of ten things they wouldn’t want to be on the planet without in a post-rapture/apocalypse world. We asked our readers to submit their own lists. A cool prize (Laura Levine’s latest funny murder mystery, PAMPERED TO DEATH, was offered for the best top 10 list.

Our winning entry was easy to select, mainly because we only received three.  But here it is. Sent by Paul Raskin, from New York, New York.


1. Lithium. Although it’s possible that what made me bi-polar in the first place is all the other people who used to be on the planet with me.
2. The Kingda Ka roller coaster at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey, mainly because I love throwing up hot dogs and coke and pizza and nachos in public places.
3. Cameron Diaz movies. She makes me laugh. And makes me think that her pits smell like jasmine.
4. Disneyland. Although I would personally dismantle the “It’s A Small World” ride. That too, may be the cause for my need for lithium.
5. Books, of course. Since there won’t be any new ones printed, I might catch up on the classics. However, if the only book left on the planet is Silas Marner, I’ll kill myself before having to relive high school lit class all over again.
6. Condoms won’t be necessary. But porn will definitely prove useful.
7. Wine! Who needs any other source of hydration?
8. Metamucil. With all the crap I’ll be eating, since there won’t any pizza places or deli’s, I’ll need the extra push in the bathroom.
9. Nail clippers. Even though I’m alone, therefore no will care about the length of my toe nails, personal grooming will still be important.
10. Classical music. Wagner will suit the first few days of carnage. After that, I’ll need Ravel and Debussy and Doris Day and The Mamas and the Pappas and The Beatles and Air Supply.

Ed. Note: We wish Paul success with his bi-polar issues. We agree that Silas Marner is a killer. Therefore, Paul wins the prize: an autographed copy of Laura Levine’s laugh-out-loud murder mystery, PAMPERED TO DEATH. BTW, we couldn’t wait for the official release of this latest work in Levine’s Jaine Austen mystery series, so if the dust jacket appears a little smudged, it’s because it’s been read and circulated around the office. Everyone at BTG, without exception, highly recommends this novel. However, we now have to wait a full year for another book from Levine. Pooh!

We’ll be back on September 1 with the next edition of BRUISES THE GIN. Our editorial staff intern will circulate a general warning in advance as a heads up to anyone freaking out about our next societal plight  to  lambaste: Interior design, for the home and the homeless.

Contact us at www.Bruisesthegin.com, or www.Rtjordan.com

"AMERICAN IDOL meets GLEE in this fast-paced showbiz whodunit."



  1. R, you are amazing;y borderline – intellectual. You could write an encylopedia that would have people in stitches (not surgical, of course). I have just laughed off the two pounds I gained last month. — Julia

  2. That semi-colon should be an “l.”

  3. Francene LaDue says:

    Delightful way to start my week. Thank you Richard.

  4. Laura Levine says:

    Wonderful Q&A with Fred Curt!!!
    Loved it!

  5. Dan Maddalena says:

    Hey Richard,
    I’m on fire after reading your wonderful interview with Fred Curt. Very juicy reading.

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