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Courtney Thorne-Smith (born November 8, 1967) is an American actress. She was born in San Francisco, California.
Her most notable television credit was playing Alison Parker on the nighttime drama Melrose Place (1992-1997). Other notable TV roles included Georgia Thomas on Ally McBeal (1997-2000) and, currently, wife Cheryl on According to Jim.
Courtney made her first movie appearance in the 1986 feature film drama, Lucas. She has also starred in movies such as Summer School (1987), Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise (1987), and Side Out (1990).
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She was born in San Francisco, California. In 1999, Verdon served as artistic advisor and consultant on the stage biography of her late husband's life in theatre, the current stage musical Fosse, and her daughter, Nicole, was credited with "special thanks." The show received the Tony for best musical. Courtney Thorne-Smith (born November 8, 1967) is an American actress. Verdon appeared as the mother of Alice in the movie Alice (1990) and as Ruth in Marvin's Room (1996). She continued to instruct dance and musical theatre and to act, including receiving three Emmy Award nominations for appearances on Magnum PI (1988), Dream On (1993) and Homicide (1993). Verdon was accompanying Fosse to the 1987 revival of Sweet Charity in Washington and held him in her arms when he suffered a fatal heart attack on the walk outside the theatre.
She played character parts in such movies as The Cotton Club (1984), Cocoon (1985) and Cocoon: The Return (1988). After playing Roxie Hart in Chicago, Verdon concentrated on straight acting. She developed a close working relationship with Fosse's domestic companion, actress Ann Reinking, and even instructed for Reinking's musical theatre classes. They remained close friends and were collaborators and co-workers on projects like Chicago (1975), her last major Broadway role in which she played murderess Roxie Hart, and the musical Dancin' (1978), as well as his autobiographical movie, All That Jazz (1979).
In 1971, Verdon filed a legal separation from Fosse because of his open extramarital affairs, but they never divorced. The show became a Broadway cult classic and was followed by a movie version starring a younger redheaded dancer, Shirley MacLaine, which Verdon helped choreograph. In 1966, she returned to the stage in the role of Charity in Sweet Charity, which like many of her earlier Broadway triumphs was choreographed by her longtime husband, Bob Fosse. After the birth of her daughter, Verdon took time off.
She and Henaghan had one son, Jim Henaghan (born 1943); she and Fosse had a daughter, Nicole Fosse (born 1963). Verdon had two husbands, tabloid reporter James Henaghan (married 1942-divorced 1947) and Bob Fosse (married 1960-his death 1987). She also won a Grammy Award for the cast recording of Redhead. She received a total of four Tonys; for Can-Can (1953), Damn Yankees (1955), New Girl in Town (1957) and Redhead (1959), a murder-mystery musical.
She won another Tony and went to Hollywood to repeat her role in the movie version, Damn Yankees (1958). The musical ran for 1,019 performances. Verdon played the Devil's disciple who entices a baseball aficionado to sell his soul to play for the Washington Senators. She would forever be identified with her role as the vampish Lola in Bob Fosse's Damn Yankees (1955), which is based on the novel The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant.
With flaming red hair and a sassy, ill-mannered attitude, Verdon was considered the best dancer on Broadway in the 1950s and 1960s. Gwen Verdon received a pay raise and her first Tony Award for her triumphant performance. The audience thundered her name until the startled actress was brought out of her dressing room in her bathrobe to take a curtain call. But on opening night her Garden of Eden number stopped the show.
With her role reduced to barely more than an ensemble part, Verdon threatened to walk out of Can-Can, formally announcing her intention to leave by the time the show premiered on Broadway. Lilo was displeased with all the attention Verdon received and demanded her role be cut to only two featured dance numbers. Out-of-town reviewers hailed Verdon's interpretation of Eve in the Garden of Eden ballet and said it outshone the show's star. Her breakthrough role came when she was cast by choreographer Michael Kidd as the second female lead in Cole Porter's musical Can-Can (1953), which starred French prima donna Lilo.
Verdon started out on Broadway as a "gypsy," going from one chorus line to another. During her five-year employment with Cole, she took small roles in movie musicals as a "specialty dancer." She also gave dance instruction, with trainees including such big name stars as Jane Russell, Lana Turner, Betty Grable and Marilyn Monroe. Her quest for work led to a job as assistant to choreographer Jack Cole, whose work was respected by both Broadway and top Hollywood movie studios. After her divorce, she intrusted her young son, Jimmy, to the care of her parents.
In 1945, she appeared as a dancer in the movie musical The Blonde From Brooklyn. Verdon then shocked her parents and instructors when she abandoned her budding career to elope with her first husband. While in high school, she was cast in a revival of Show Boat. She attended Hamilton High School in Los Angeles and also studied under the renowned ballet master Ernest Belcher.
Gwen was a solo ballerina. At age eleven, she appeared in the musical/romance movie The King Steps Out (1936), which was directed by Josef von Sternberg and starred Grace Moore and Franchot Tone. She went on to study multiple dance forms, from tap, jazz, ballroom and flamenco, to Balinese and juggling. By the age of six, feisty redheaded Gwen was performing on stage as a tap dancer.
Little did Gwen or her mother know she would one day become a famous Broadway star. Gertrude Verdon placed Gwen in dance classes at the age of three and ballet began strengthening her legs and improving her carriage. As a child, Gwen was afflicted with rickets, which left her legs so badly bent and misshapen she was called "Gimpy" by other children and spent her early years in orthopedic boots and stiff braces. They were also "show people," Joseph being an electrician at MGM Studios and Gertrude a former member of the Denishawn dance troupe and a veteran of Vaudeville.
Gwen's parents were English immigrants by way of Canada. Her brother was William Farrell Verdon (August 1, 1923-June 10, 1991). She was born Gwyneth Evelyn Verdon in Culver City, California, the second child of Joseph William Verdon (December 31, 1896-June 23, 1978) and Gertrude Lilian Standring (October 24, 1896-October 16, 1956). Gwen Verdon (January 13, 1925 - October 18, 2000) was an acclaimed Tony Award winning American dancer and actress.