THE FABULOUS NICHOLAS BROTHERS presented by Bruce Goldstein
Tuesday, September 27
The Nicholas Brothers, Fayard (1914-2006) and Harold (1921- 2000), rank at the very top of the 20th century’s greatest dancers. Despite racial hurdles, the self-taught performers became headliners at Harlem’s famed Cotton Club and stars of vaudeville and Broadway — with their show-stopping numbers in Hollywood movies making them internationally famous. Known for effortless balletic moves, elegant tap dancing, and jaw-dropping leaps, flips, and splits — along with a sly sense of humor — the Olympian brothers are in the end impossible to categorize. The dancer’s dancers, their fans have included Gene Kelly, Bob Fosse, Gregory and Maurice Hines, George Balanchine, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Donald O’Connor, Michael and Janet Jackson, and Fred Astaire, who called their Stormy Weather “staircase number” the greatest musical sequence of all time.
The tribute will be presented by Film Forum Repertory Director Bruce Goldstein, a friend of the brothers and writer and co-producer of an award-winning 1991 documentary on the team. Goldstein presented his first Nicholas Brothers tribute at Film Forum in 1988. His current talk, using film clips, recordings and vintage photographs, was first presented at the TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood, which ended with the audience of 500 spontaneously rising in a standing ovation.
The Nicholas Brothers saga began in the early 1920s, when Fayard started imitating the dance acts he saw at the Philadelphia vaudeville house where his parents were musicians. He soon started teaching his toddler brother Harold. By the late 1920s, they were a professional act known as The Nicholas Kids. In 1932, they were booked into Harlem’s world famous Cotton Club, headlining with Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway and Ethel Waters. They made their first film that same year. In 1940, they appeared in their first of five films for 20th Century-Fox. Their breathtaking, daredevil numbers in those movies (including the all-black Stormy Weather, with Lena Horne, Bill Robinson, and Fats Waller) made them internationally famous.
The Brothers continued performing together up until Harold’s death in 2000 - an extraordinary 75-year career. A highlight of their later years came in 1991 when they received The Kennedy Center Honors, the nation’s highest award for the performing arts.
Approx. 105 min.