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The Girl Who Fell Down
A Biography of Joan McCracken
by Lisa Jo Sagolla
About The Book
Dancer and actress Joan McCracken (1917-1961), commanded a pioneering career that influenced some of the greatest artists on Broadway and in Hollywood. An overnight sensation for her 1943 comedic role as The Girl Who Falls Down in the groundbreaking musical Oklahoma!, McCracken established the prototype dancer-comedienne, headlining in ballet, stage, film, and television productions before her life was tragically cut short by complications from diabetes. Critic-writer Lisa Jo Sagolla paints a complex portrait of the petite entertainer as a beautiful, worldly woman who retained a childlike quality onstage. McCracken’s comic exuberance and athleticism also epitomized a new ballet form that melded the European ideas of aristocratic grace and movement with an American spirit. This biography chronicles her training at Balanchine’s School of American Ballet, her blossoming as a ravishing talent in Bloomer Girl and Me & Juliet, along with her marriages to choreographer Bob Fosse and novelist Jack Dunphy before his involvement with Truman Capote. Touching yet inspiring, Sagolla’s account describes McCracken’s dramatic coaching of Shirley MacLaine, and her inspiration for the many dancer-comediennes that followed — Gwen Verdon, Carol Haney and Sandy Duncan.
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