Robert Louis “Bob” Fosse (June 23, 1927 – September 23, 1987) was an American actor, dancer, musical theater choreographer, director, screenwriter, film editor and film director. He won an unprecedented eight Tony Awards for choreography, as well as one for direction. He was nominated for an Academy Award four times, winning for his direction of Cabaret (beating Francis Ford Coppola for The Godfather). He was closely identified with his third wife, Broadway dancing star Gwen Verdon. She was both the dancer/collaborator/muse upon whom he choreographed much of his work and, together with dancer/choreographer Ann Reinking, a significant guardian of the Fosse legacy after his death.
Fosse was born in Chicago, Illinois, to a Norwegian father and Irish mother, the second youngest of six children. He teamed up with Charles Grass, another young dancer, and began a collaboration under the name The Riff Brothers. They toured theatres throughout the Chicago area. Eventually Fosse was hired for Tough Situation, which toured military and naval bases in the Pacific.
Fosse moved to New York with the ambition of being the next Fred Astaire. His appearance with his first wife and dance partner Mary Ann Niles (1923–1987) in Call Me Mister brought him to the attention of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. Fosse and Niles were regular performers on Your Hit Parade during its 1950-51 season, and during this season Martin and Lewis caught their act in New York's Pierre Hotel and scheduled them to appear on the Colgate Comedy Hour. His early screen appearances included Give A Girl A Break, The Affairs of Dobie Gillis and Kiss Me Kate, all released in 1953. A short sequence that he choreographed in the latter (and danced with Carol Haney) brought him to the attention of Broadway producers.