Ok, he wasn’t an actor or even solely a director. Why then is he a fit subject for our Monday Quiz?
Well, as mentioned yesterday, William Berkeley Enos was born in the 19th century (1896) but lived and prospered in Hollywood well into the 20th (until 1962, 14 years before his death).
His CV consisting of 32 directoral credits includes a host of memorable classics making Busby Berkeley the foremost director-choreographer of American movie musicals. He is famous for his production numbers and overhead shots such as the one above. He is certainly worth knowing a bit more about, and that is the objective of the quiz.
To review Quiz questions, just scroll down to Monday’s blog. Today we have the answers, and some may surprise you. So, please, read on.
1) Answer: a) True. Berkeley cut his early teeth on the Broadway stage. His mother was an actress, and he was brought up in the theater. I was a performer on Broadway seven years, and I directed twenty-one opening nights before coming to Hollywood.
2) Answer: a) Eddie Cantor, who wanted Berkeley to direct all the musical numbers in 1930’s Whoopee. Said Berkeley: I started showing sequences of close-ups of pretty girls with ‘Whoopee.’ It had never been done before.
3) Answer: a) The shooting of Gold Diggers of 1933 was rudely interrupted by an earthquake, which shook the walls of the Warner Brothers studio. Recalled Berkeley: At the time it hit I had fifty beautiful girls up thirty-five high on a platform. I shrieked and hollered to them not to jump. They didn’t and filming resumed when the tremors ended.
4) Answer: c) Judy Garland was a mere 15 when she worked with Berkeley, making 1939’s Babes In Arms with Mickey Rooney. She called me Uncle and always wanted me right there when the camera was photographing her, Berkeley recalled.
5) Answer: a) True. Berkeley boasted that people loved those musicals and flocked to see them. It’s a matter of history that my pictures brought Warner Brothers out of the red and into the black during the thirties. It was all due to the musical numbers.
6) Answer: d) Theresa Wright did NOT start her career as Busby Berkeley chorine.
7) Answer: Sorry. Trick question. All four choices are correct since all of them worked with Berkeley at one time or another. He particularly admired Cagney, Del Rio and Esther Williams.
8) Answer: a) 1949’s Take Me Out To The Ballgame costarring Williams, Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly. According to Williams, (Producer) Arthur Freed tapped Busby Berkeley to direct, but Kelly and (Stanley) Donen were fully in charge of the musical numbers , not Buzz, even though Berkeley’s name remained on the credits as director.
9) Answer: a) Jackie Gleason, whose variety tv program hosted the June Taylor dancers. Gleason had a keen eye for inventive ensemble choreography, and much admired Berkeley’s work.
10) Answer: Berkeley did not limit himself to musicals. He did a fine job directing John Garfield in his first starring role in 1939’s They Made Me A Criminal costarring Claude Rains and the Dead End Kids.