Fred Astaire was 58 when he made this movie. Mamoulian was 60. Cyd Charisse was ageless.
Here’s “Red Blues,” choreographed by Balanchine-trained Eugene Loring on my YT channel, from the 1957 MGM musical, Silk Stockings, directed by Rouben Mamoulian. Mamoulian hadn’t directed a picture since 1946; after the Cleopatra debacle in the early 1960s, Silk Stockings turned out to be his last completed work in Hollywood.
In winter 1979, Charisse and her husband, singer Tony Martin (“Temptation”) lived in a house up the hill from The Old Man on Schuyler Road in Beverly Hills in tranquil retirement. However, at the top of the hill also lived the Shah of Iran’s 86 year-old mother, and came the revolution Iranian students from all over the Southland marched up Schuyler Road to demonstrate outside her house, indulging in a little vandalism on the way. Mamoulian was, of course, furious, and his lovely wife Zayde, who never left her bedroom, buzzed me on the intercom to fume over the “criminals” (her word) who toppled their sovereign letter receptacle. The Old Man’s second concern—after his own mailbox, of course—was the mailbox of his good friend and former leading lady, and I was dispatched to phone them at once. Happily, the protesters had missed theirs.
- “The Story So Far, with Conductor John Wilson”
- “The Story So Far; Or, Conductor John Wilson—His Limits”
- Read my comic novel of Hollywood COLD OPEN here
- Find my album JOHN WILSON: AN ENGLISH CONDUCTOR here