Saturday, October 16, 2021

Before Astaire Danced on the Ceiling

 In the late 1980s, I was a veejay and talk show host seen daily on the VH1 music channel. Those were three of the happiest, most fulfilling years of my TV career. When I'd introduce Lionel Richie's popular "Dancing on the Ceiling" music video, a video in which Richie dance -- sort of -- on the ceiling, I loved telling viewers that Fred Astaire did it first in a 1951 musical from MGM called ROYAL WEDDING. Astaire, as a man so much in love that he defied gravity sang "You're All the World to Me" before he went into his dance. Stanley Donen, a dancer and film director, directed ROYAL WEDDING. He also directed the Lionel Richie music video.

The ROYAL WEDDING songs had music by Burton Lane and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner. One song had music that folks had heard before in a movie. The lyrics were different, however. They were sung by a dancer who, like Fred Astaire, wore a classy tuxedo.

The singer/dancer was young Harold Nicholas of the Nicholas Brothers. With lyrics by Harold Adamson, the young Nicholas brother sang "I Want to Be a Minstrel Man" in the 1934 musical called KID MILLIONS. It starred Eddie Cantor, Ann Sothern and Ethel Merman. Take a look.

Now here's the number with Fred Astaire and a new set of lyrics.

There you have it -- a little classic movie musical trivia for you. By the way, Astaire was in his early 50s when he performed that number. I couldn't dance that well when I was in my early 20s.

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