Celebrity bio the way it should be done--brilliantly paced and shaped; by the author of Jed Harris: The Curse of Genius...


ALL HIS JAZZ: The Life and Death of Bob Fosse

Celebrity bio the way it should be done--brilliantly paced and shaped; by the author of Jed Harris: The Curse of Genius (1984), etc. Gottfried's Fosse compares favorably with Kevin Grubb's Razzle Dazzle: The Life and Work of Bob Fosse (1989), which was thorough and satisfying, particularly about dance, while not getting any inside dope from Fosse's still-grieving daughter Nicole and wife Gwen Verdon. Gottfried, a chief drama critic for Women's Wear Daily, The New York Post, and Saturday Review, doesn't get to Nicole or Verdon either, but that's little loss set beside the pluses. Gottfried sees Fosse as ""a modern man of shadow, texture, and energy to contribute to the human pool. . .a man not always certain of his manliness. . .and. . .convinced of his own fraudulence."" A child prodigy as a dancer, Fosse worked in sleaze joints, a virgin among stark naked women who often sat on his lap and taunted him. This lent his later productions as a choreographer and film director a heated eroticism and sleaze--he saw all his dancing (and even nonmusical shows such as Star 80)--as semiautobiographical and felt he could not honestly avoid the rich sleaze that made him most alive. As Gottfried shows, this vice carried over into Fosse's love life: he was endlessly unfaithful, saw himself as incapable of lasting sexual love for any woman, often carried on several affairs at once while married to Verdon. His deepest love was for Nicole. Infidelity coupled with drugs, booze, and a sense that he had stolen many of his best stage effects at last made him mean-spirited and often terrifying to his coworkers. His tireless attack on work, however, produced on film the best performances ever given by Liza Minnelli (Cabaret), Roy Schelder (All That Jazz), and Eric Roberts (Star 80), and won him the triple crown: an Oscar, Emmy and Tony all in one season. Nonetheless, Gottfried demonstrates, Fosse remained death-haunted and even filmed his own death as the main theme of his autobiographical masterpiece, All That Jazz. A fabulous life, profoundly revealed.

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 1990


Page Count: -

Publisher: Bantam

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1990