Today, on the birthday of Busby Berkeley, it’s important to remember that the great director of kaleidescopic musical dance numbers started out as a child star at the age of five back in 1900, acting with his family’s troupe. He was a seasoned choreographer on Broadway before he made his memorable Gold Diggers series of musicals (recalled here in this lulling but dramatic YouTube clip featuring The Shadow Waltz and neon violins).
Here are five things you might not have known about Busby Berkeley.
1) He had six wives and various tempestuous relationships throughout his directing career.
2) He was charged with murder after a fatal car accident. But he beat the rap.
3) He had well-publicized feuds with Judy Garland, one which resulted in his being removed from the director’s chair in Girl Crazy.
4) When he was 75, he returned to Broadway to oversee No, No Nanette starring Ruby Keeler.
5) He made his famous dance movies because, "In an era of breadlines, depression and wars, I tried to help people
get away from all the misery…to turn their minds to something else. I
wanted to make people happy, if only for an hour."