Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Ten Tapping Troubadours??

Okay, first thing I have to do is discuss the poll results: Fred Astaire's hat rack won the contest on better inanimate dance partner with 9 votes (69%). Gene Kelly's mop had 4 votes (30%) (which doesn't seem to add up - I don't understand). Thank you everyone for voting!!

So, you know how in January I said I wanted to make a list every month of various things? Well, I was preparing a post of my 15 favorite male dancers to make that my focus for March. Then, as I was making this list, I realized that I should have videos linked to each one - after all, it's all fine and good to say, "He's such a wonderful dancer" and it's another thing entirely to show what a good dancer he is. So, then I linked videos and then I thought, "People may not want to watch 15+ videos of various dancers." So, then I realized that I should just do a post for each dancer, embed the video and maybe talk a bit about each one. So, that's my plan. In which case, I may end up doing a post a day for a little while. Would that be all right? My later lists won't all be like this, with the exception of a couple more. I kind of like the normal list format. Anyway, I'll do this the proper way, unlike my 100 movies list, and start from the end of the list.

15. Bert May

I have to explain this one a bit. Here's the deal. When I was in high school and watching Guys and Dolls, I noticed a particularly good-looking dancer in the background. Then, I noticed him in The Band Wagon too. Then I saw that he made appearances in Music Man, Hello Dolly!, Summer Stock, and Mary Poppins. It became a real Where's Waldo search for this guy! He's a really good dancer and often gets little bit solos. But it wasn't until a friend showed me The Merry Andrew that I finally discovered his name: Bert May. His filmography on IMDb is very limited. It's a very sad predicament from the Hollywood era. Those background dancers really did not get the credit they deserve. And they really made a huge difference to the musical productions. Just imagine Busby Berkeley's crazy kaleidoscopes without the background dancers. Or Singin' in the Rain without the girls in the colorful flapper dresses. Or, well, any musical. They just wouldn't exist without these talented dancers. And the sad thing is these dancers never got screen credit. They may have been just as good as the leads, or almost as good, but no one knows who they are.

All this to say, Bert May is on the list because I think he is one of many who should have had his name in the credits. #15 is for him, in particular, and for all the dancers like him.

Favorite dance: "Get Happy" from Summer Stock. He's the guy who does the crazy cool leg thing next to Judy at 1:59.

If you want to join me in the "Where's Waldo" search, here are a few of his other scenes. See if you can find him!

"New York Folks"
"Girl Hunt Ballet" (part of it)
"Marian the Librarian"
"Step in Time."
"Hello Dolly!"

Oh, and because I'm a nerd, I made a video of him. Just to prove how much he pops up in movies! I'm not posting it now because I think that might be information overload, which would totally defeat the purpose of separating the list this way. However, if you're interested, let me know, and I'll post it up later.



  1. Oo...I will have to look for him the next time I watch any of those movies. I know what you mean about the background dancers. Sometimes they were just as good (or better!) than the leads. It's great when they get some credit!

  2. How funny are you?! I love that you made a video for this unknown dancer! I'm on my way to YouTube to look it up.

  3. I have never run across your blog, before, but I noticed Bert May, much as you did - first in "Summer Stock, and also in "Guys and Dolls". I learned his name when Liza Minelli mentioned him in her commentary track (along with Michael Feinstein) for "The Band Wagon" DVD. I would love to see your Bert May highlights video. I hope you're still keeping up with this, and can post it here, or send me a link to it at

    1. Hi,
      Glad to see you all remember my cousin Bert. I just found this site. He was my mom's 1st cousin.
      My grandma and Bert's dad were brother and sister. He's a great guy and still doing good. At his 80th birthday in Las Vegas 2004, he danced for our family. One of my thrills, was when I was a teen in 1968 of dancing with Bert myself at another cousin's wedding. He lives in South Dakota. We keep wanting him to move back to California. I'm so glad people appreciate all his talent over all those years. I talked to him not too long ago and will call and tell him about his many fans. His first role was as a young sailor in The Thin Man Comes Home with William Powell and Myrna Loy, who he jitterbugged with. Many roles in Movies and Television followed. He was a regular dancer later on the Andy Williams Show. He was in Judy Garland's stage shows which i went to see as a child at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles. He played the upside down man on the Dick Van Dyke Show which can be viewed on the internet. He was on the Fred Astaire Specials on T.V. Anyway, I could go on and on. He's been in so many things too numerous to mention. Thanks for remembering our beloved cousin Bert who I've known all my life and glad that he brought so much joy to all of you as he has to our family.

  4. Saw Bert dancing in "Lil Abner," tonight.

    When I was shown the Postings associated with my name, I was pleasantly surprised. Glowing words from loving relatives and close friends might be expected; but the heartwarming, kind comments by movie super-sleuths like you who masterfully tracked me down was overwhelming. Sally - I shall wear the number Fifteen as a Badge Of Honor and with Pride. Nowadays however, like Waldo, I am happy to remain in the "background" and out of the spotlight.

    1. Mr. May,
      Oh my goodness! I cannot tell you how thrilled I am that you not only read but responded to my blog post! I am, as you can probably tell, a huge fan of yours! I know you said you're happy to stay out of the spotlight these days but I would love to talk to you about your experience in Hollywood. Would you, by any chance, be available to do an interview with me?
      Thank you again so very, very much for your comment! I now feel like I see a friend every time I watch my favorite movies!

  6. Just saw Bert in the background -not dancing - during Virginia O'Brien's number in "Two Girls and a Sailor" one of the soldiers in the canteen but face featured behind O'Brien while she finishes her number.

  7. Bert May was such a marvelous dancer in Ziegfeld Follies, Till The Clouds Roll By, The Pirate, Easter Parade, Words and Music, On the Town, Summer Stock and The Band Wagon. He also did a couple of "walk-ons" in The Clock and A Date With Judy. In those days MGM had a pool of stock performers from which it could draw for bits, dancers, background, etc...Bert May just happened to be in the pool, and he was a great dancer.

  8. I see that Bert May responded to your blog in June of 2014. As of this date is he still with us? Bless his heart if he still is.

  9. I am a big fan of Bert May as well and discovered him in "Guys and Dolls" at first. I have also spotted him in Finian's Rainbow, The One and Only Genuine Original Family Band and It's Always Fair Weather. He had a long career as dancers go. Would love to know who some of the other dancers are who appear repeatedly in the great musicals of the past. They just don't get the credit they should.

  10. I'm a Bert May, as Waldo, watcher and have spotted him in "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" which doesn't seem to be on any of the Bert May movie lists, that I've seen on the Internet. Bert appears, briefly, but clearly, in the "Is There Anyone Here For Love?" number. Just before Jane Russell tumbles into the swimming pool, she sits on a bench, facing the pool. Bert and another dancer slide in, on their backs, on either side of Miss Russell. A plus - the guys are shirtless. Bert is on the left.


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