Friday, July 18, 2014

Piano dance Tom Hanks and James Cagney

Piano Dance: Fun with James Cagney, Tom Hanks, Liberace

Big Tom Hanks Robert Loggia
classic dancing on piano scene
James Cagney did it in 1937. Tom Hanks in 1988. Wild and Crazy Mr. Hanks has had a hankering to do it again and again. He did it with Sandra Bullock on TV in 2013. 

You can do it in the privacy of your own home. Honey Boo Boo & Mama June did it just this year. Bet you know what it is.

Can you believe how long it's been since we first saw the movie, Big? There's a 25th Anniversary Edition DVD set. It wasn't the first movie that Tom Hanks made, but it was the first one that brought him a nomination for an Academy Award. 

Tom Hanks and Robert Loggia are dancing out the song, Heart and Soul. The music by is Hoagy Carmichael and lyrics by Frank Loesser. 

Sometimes the song is identified as The Celebrated Chop Waltz, better known simply as Chopsticks. Do you play these on your piano? By yourself or with a partner, solo or duet?  In 1877 Chopsticks was written by composer Euphemia Allen under the pseudonym Arthur de Lulli. 
Liberace at his home the piano shaped pool

"Please Mr. Music, will you play?" (A little allusion to the ending of A Bit of Fry and Laurie. Hugh Laurie would play piano while Stephen Fry would make and shake his cocktail alongside.)

Liberace had a respect for the classics, including the song, Chopsticks. Unlike the amazing Jerry Lee Lewis, Liberace doesn't get his feet onto the keyboard in this performance. .... But what about Cagney?

"Johnny Boyle was, if anyone can be so credited the creator of the Cagney dancing style at once highly eclectic and uniquely street Cagney, a mix of George M.Cohan (whom Boyle had worked for), semi-ballet and down-to-earth vaudeville hoofing.

"Dancing much more than acting was in those years Jim's greatest creative joy. As he points out In Cagney by Cagey he says he considered dancing 'a primal urge to life at the first moment we need to express joy. 

"'Among the pre-language aboriginals possessing no music and the most primitive rhythm, I suspect dancing became their first expression of excitement. And an extension of that idea is embedded in my belief, quite applicable to myself that once a song-and-dance man always a song-and-dance man.'

James Cagney once said, "I have had highlights in my career like any performer, but inevitably there are some higher than others, and I am pretty sure that there is almost no greater moment for me personally than in the middle of Something to Sing About when I had the great honor, the real privilege of doing that number with Johnny Boyle and Harland Dixon."
-- Cagney by John McCabe

Ruby Keeler, Lee Dixon Ready Willing and Able 1937 dancing on a typewriter keyboard

"My mother told me I was dancing before I was born. She could feel my toes tapping wildly inside her for months."
-- Ginger Rogers

"Mother says I was a dancer before I could walk..." 
-- From the 1977 ABBA song, Thank you for the music, Featured in Mamma Mia

The 1937 film, Something to Sing About, included a routine with giant piano moment for Cagney.

Jimmy Cagney played George M. Cohan in his Oscar winning role in 1942's Yankee Doodle Dandy. 

When people think about actors who danced, the great dancers of the golden age of Hollywood, some names aren't mentioned as often as others. James
Rita Hayworth piano dance
Cagney isn't remembered as often as I think he should be. George Raft was also a dancer. We too rarely gave credit to the influence and contribution of the African American dancers in front of and behind the cameras. And of course, we should never list only male names.... But I digress, which is one of my specialties.

On a 2013 episode of the Jonathon Ross show Tom Hanks, was surprised with the giant piano. He got to do the dance with Sandra Bullock! 

Is it the biggest toy piano there is? Would you paint the floor of your hall like this? Need painted stair ideas? Black and white is a way to go.

Are there other movies where they did a dance like this? Chickens tapping out on a toy piano is really something kind of different. :-)

Links to Books, Related Pages of Interest:

The popular Winfun Step To Play Giant Piano Mat allows you and your kids to play, get exercise, have fun and make music at home.

Cagney by John Mccabe 

James Cagney the making of Yankee Doodle Dandy, George M. Cohan's life story

Remember Bosom Buddies, Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari 

In 1975, Elton John was the Pinball Wizard in the movie version of the rock opera Tommy. He wore some big boots and played a big keyboard

We have taken broken, discarded pianos, recycled and re-purposed these old instruments

Tour FAO Schwarz: A Walk-through

The oldest toy store in the United States

Cameo appearances by the Giant Piano
Lego Statue of Liberty and Batman, Saying Hi to Hello Kitty

Dressing Male Stars in Old Hollywood; Provide Your Own Clothes; Hollywood actors rebel against high wardrobe costs, The Internal Revenue Service, Tricky Tax Deductions in the 1930s ...

Wedding dolls: Mattel Princess Grace Kelly, Prince William and Kate {being revised}
Some FAO Schwarz History and favorites:
The Old Sales ledger

The big teddy bear
Pferd the Horse, the Duck

Barney Google and his horse Spark Plug
Nutcrackers, Wizard of Oz
Tonner Hollywood Dolls

What's your favorite thing at FAO Schwarz?

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