You just never know who is going to walk into the studio on any given day. Yesterday it was a delightful young lady of 84 who just wanted a DVD of one of her tap dancing performances to be copied. But this was not just any transfer of an old performance of years gone by. This was a recording of a recent show. As a matter of fact, at 84, she is still teaching tap to anyone who would like to learn.
I had to ask, since I’ve been an admirer of tap dancers for some time, who her favorite all time tap dancer was. I was expecting the usual suspects. Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Ann Miller, etc… Her reply was instant and a bit of a surprise. Without missing a beat she blurted out, Dan Dailey.
In my age group, Dailey was not all that well known as a tap dancer… to be frank, he probably wasn’t all that well known at all. I remember seeing him in a 60s sitcom called The Governor and JJ in which he starred with Julie Sommars. It only lasted a few seasons. But, as it turns out, he was quite a hoofer in his younger days.
After bouncing about MGM in a few modest parts, his big break came after he returned from WWII and was allowed to sign a contract with 20th Century Fox. They paired him with their biggest female star, Betty Grable, in the musical Mother Wore Tights. He would eventually co-star with her in two other films. He had another big hit with Give My Regards to Broadway which boasted an all-star lineup. He then had a string of semi-successful films but the film I remember him in most was a sports biopic where he played Dizzy Dean in The Pride of St Louis.
If you still can’t quite place him, here’s a snippet of a musical number from It’s Always Fair Weather with Dailey, Gene Kelly and Michael Kidd as soldiers returning home from the war. (Dailey is the tall lanky fellow.)
Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.