Fosse/Verdon premieres tonight on FX; the mini-series focuses on the romantic and creative partnership of legendary director and choreographer Bob Fosse and his muse Gwen Verdon, said to be the greatest Broadway dancer ever.
Early in Fosse’s career, before he met Gwen Verdon, he performed with and married his first wife, Mary Ann Niles. Here’s what you need to know about her:
1. She Was Fosse’s First Dance Partner
Pop Sugar reports that Fosse and Niles made their New York theater debut together in Call Me Mister and that Mary Ann was the first of Bob Fosse’s dance partners.
According to VerdonFosse.com, Fosse made his Broadway debut with Niles in Dance Me a Song on January 20, 1950; the musical song and dance revue closed after only 35 performances. Gwen Verdon made her debut just three days earlier, in Alive and Kicking.
According to IMDB, she and Fosse also appeared on television together, on shows including The Morey Amsterdam Show and Your Hit Parade.
2. They Divorced Right Before Fosse’s Career Took Off
Niles was only married to Fosse for two years, from 1949 until 1951, and while their partnership was a formative part of his dancing and choreographing career, his first job as a Broadway choreographer came in 1954 when he choreographed The Pajama Game. He choreographed Damn Yankees the following year.
Fosse married twice after Niles: he was married to Joan McCracken from 1952-1959, leaving McCracken for Gwen Verdon, whom he was married to from 1960 until 1971. Some of his best-known and most iconic work today, including Sweet Charity and Chicago, starred Verdon.
3. Niles Is not Portrayed in the FX Mini-Series
Since Fosse/Verdon focuses on the professional and personal relationship of Gwen Verdon and Bob Fosse, it is not surprising that Niles seems to be absent from the story. According to the show’s IMDB page, there are no actors credited as playing “Mary Ann Niles,” meaning that even flashbacks to Fosse’s time with Niles are unlikely to occur.
The character of Fosse’s second wife, Joan McCracken, is credited as appearing in all 8 episodes; she will be played by Susan Misner. Michelle Williams is playing Gwen Verdon, and Sam Rockwell is Bob Fosse.
4. She Continued Acting & Choreographing Theater After Her Relationship With Fosse
Although the name Mary Ann Niles is not famous the way that Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon are, she continued performing and choreographing on Broadway long after her divorce from Fosse. According to Playbill.com, some of her theater credits are as a dancer in the original cast of Shangri-La in 1956 and Flora, the Red Manace in 1965, and she played Gladys Zuwicki in the original cast of Carnival! in 1956.
Her last theater credit on Playbill.com is for Ballroom, which opened on December 14, 1978.
5. She Died on October 3, 1987
Mary Ann Miles was born in New York City on Mary 23Bob Fosse passed away just a few weeks earlier, on September 23, 1987; he was in Washington D.C. at the time and collapsed on the street from a heart attack.
In the comments section of a Youtube video about Fosse and Niles, user FosJeanie C wrote “I was lucky enough to take tap with Mary Ann Niles at New Dance Group in NYC in the late ‘70’s early 80’s. She was so funny ! I went to her apartment a couple times. She had a photo of Bob Fosse on her coffee table & I believed loved him until they both passed away within a couple weeks of each other!”