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Busby Berkeley

Berkeley, Busby (bŭzˈbē bûrˈklē) [key], 1895–1975, American film director and choreographer, b. Los Angeles as William Berkeley Enos. Self-taught, he choreographed several Broadway revues before moving (1930) to Hollywood, where he achieved his greatest successes at Warner Bros. (1933–39). Berkeley became famous for staging elaborate dance numbers in which lines of showgirls performed synchronized movements which, photographed from innovative angles, particularly from above, created kaleidoscopic, often surreal patterns of moving figures. The height of his style was reached in the 1930s in such films as 42nd Street (1933), Dames (1934), and a series of Gold Diggers movies, for which he directed either the dance sequences or the entire production. Although his kind of spectacular became passé, he continued to direct other musicals during the 1940s, notably his first color movie, The Gang's All Here (1943); staged musical numbers for a few films into the 1960s; and returned to Broadway to direct a revival of No, No Nanette (1970).

See T. Thomas and J. Terry, The Busby Berkeley Book (1973), M. Rubin, Showstoppers (1993).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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