Phillips will discuss his new book Charles Walters: The Director Who Made Hollywood Dance

Cropped image of the front cover of 'The Directors Who Made Hollywood Dance.'

New York University’s Fales Library and Special Collections presents a conversation with Brent Phillips, author of a new biography, Charles Walters: The Director Who Made Hollywood Dance and John Fricke, author of seven books about Judy Garland and The Wizard of Oz.

Phillips and Fricke will be discussing the life and work of Academy-Award nominated director-choreographer Charles Walters, one of the least heralded but most accomplished of the behind-the-scenes talents responsible for the great MGM musicals.

  • WHO: Brent Phillips, author and media archivist, in conversation with John Fricke, author and historian.
  • WHAT: Conversation about Phillips’s new biography Charles Walters: The Director Who Made Hollywood Dance, published by University Press of Kentucky. The talk will include film clips.
  • WHERE & WHEN: The conversation will take place Thursday, February 12, at 6:00pm, at Fales Library, 3rd floor, Elmer Holmes Bobst Library, 70 Washington Square South, (at LaGuardia Place). [Subways A,C,E, B,D,M to West 4th Street; 6 line to Astor Place; R train to 8th Street.]. Space is limited; the public should please, specifying the event.

“Walters put his friend Judy Garland through her paces in the trolley scene of Meet Me in St. Louis (1944), the boisterous "tramp" routine with Fred Astaire in Easter Parade (1948) and her definitive, tuxedo-clad "Get Happy" number from Summer Stock (1950),” said Phillips. “He gave Astaire and Ginger Rogers their final fling in The Barkleys of Broadway (1949), staged some of Esther Williams' splashiest swim numbers including those in Dangerous When Wet (1953), and directed Doris Day's last big musical, Billy Rose's Jumbo (1962).”

Phillips also notes Walters provided career highlights for Leslie Caron (Lili, 1953), Joan Crawford (Torch Song, 1953), Frank Sinatra (High Society, 1956) and Debbie Reynolds (The Unsinkable Molly Brown, 1964). Prior to working in Hollywood, Walters was a preeminent dancer on Broadway, originating featured roles in Jubilee (1935), I Married an Angel (1938), and Du Barry was a Lady (1939).

About Brent Phillips:  Brent Phillips is a former Joffrey Ballet soloist and a 2003 graduate of the L. Jeffrey Selznick School of Film Preservation at the George Eastman House. He holds a BA in English from Hunter College (CUNY) and has taught American History and English at the Harvey Milk High School in New York City. Phillips has worked as the Media Archivist at Fales Library since November 2003, where he safeguards the nearly 90,000 audiovisual holdings from various theater, dance, music, television, and cinema collections.

About John Fricke:  John Fricke is an Emmy Award-winning documentarian, a Grammy-nominated journalist, and an author who is widely-regarded as the preeminent Judy Garland and Wizard of Oz historian. His seven books about Garland and Oz (both the MGM film and greater Oz legend) have been augmented by Fricke's contributions to dozens of compact disc and DVD features about those topics.

About Fales Library and Special Collections:  The Fales Library, comprising nearly 355,000 volumes and over 10,000 linear feet of archive and manuscript materials, houses the Fales Collection of rare books and manuscripts in English and American literature, the Downtown Collection, the Marion Nestle Food Studies Collection and the general special collections of the NYU Libraries. The Fales Collection was given to NYU in 1957 by DeCoursey Fales in memory of his father, Haliburton Fales. It is especially strong in English literature from the middle of the 18th century to the present, documenting developments in the novel. The Downtown Collection documents the downtown New York art, performance, and literary scenes from 1975 to the present and is extremely rich in archival holdings, including extensive film and video. The Marion Nestle Collection is a vast collection of books and manuscripts documenting food and foodways with particular emphasis on New York City. Other strengths of the collection include the Berol Collection of Lewis Carroll Materials, the Robert Frost Library, the Kaplan and Rosenthal Collections of Judaica and Hebraica and the manuscript collections of Elizabeth Robins and Erich Maria Remarque. The Fales Library preserves manuscripts and original editions of books that are rare or important not only because of their texts, but also because of their value as artifacts.

The NYU Division of Libraries comprises five libraries in Manhattan and one each in Brooklyn, Abu Dhabi and Shanghai. Its flagship, the Elmer Holmes Bobst Library on Washington Square, houses more than four million volumes and receives 2.6 million visits annually. Around the world the Libraries offers access to more than 1.2 million electronic journals, books, and databases. Please visit the NYU Libraries' website for more information.

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