How Bob Fosse Productions Transformed Beauty, From Directional Eyes to Liberated Bobs

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Tonight, Pamela Anderson will make her Broadway debut as Roxie Hart in Chicago at the Ambassador Theatre in New York City. “I love Bob Fosse,” the Baywatch star and activist told Vogue last month, speaking of the legendary dancer, choreographer, and director who created the legendary Jazz Age musical. From his distinct style of dance (Finger snaps! Hip thrusting! Shoulder rolling!) to his ability to bring fantasies to life down to every last detail, Fosse changed the face of American theater with his dazzling musicals. One of the most striking common threads through his productions? Directional beauty that dazzled both onstage and on screen. 

In fact, backstage at Rodarte a few seasons ago, makeup artist James Kaliardos name-checked Fosse while pressing glitter on top of fuchsia eyes and lips. “[Bob] didn’t just choreograph,” explains Kaliardos, who, as a young boy, was heavily influenced by Fosse’s 1979 American musical drama All That Jazz, which found the visionary telling his own story of working on projects including Chicago through a semi-autobiographical fantasy. “He was all about creating these expressive, hyper-individual characters,” said Kaliardos. “And always with this extra-ness in the hair and makeup that communicated glamour. That showbiz feeling, you know?”

In honor of Anderson’s big night on the Great White Way, we’re looking back on the beauty motifs that Fosse and his genre-defining productions thrust into the zeitgeist, from Swinging Sixties eyes to impossibly chiseled limbs.

The Liberated Bob

Renée Zellweger as Roxie Hart in Chicago, 2002.Photo: Courtesy of Miramax

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