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We see Bob Fosse’s legacy everywhere—from Broadway to “Billy Jean” to Beyoncé’s moves in the “Single Ladies” video. Yet in spite of Fosse’s deep cultural significance, no biography has ever brought him fully to life, unveiling the man behind the bowler hat and the swaggering sex appeal. Now acclaimed cultural historian Sam Wasson traces Fosse’s numberless reinventions of himself over a career that would spawn The Pajama Game, Cabaret, Pippin, Chicago, All That Jazz, and other iconic works of art and earn him Tonys, Emmys, and an Oscar.

Wasson traces not only Fosse’s prodigious professional life but his intense relationships with everyone from Liza Minnelli, Fred Astaire, and Neil Simon to Shirley MacLaine, Jessica Lange, and Dustin Hoffman. Through extensive interviews with collaborators and lovers and unprecedented access to Fosse’s archives, Wasson also reveals the deep wounds that propelled his subject’s excessive appetites—for spotlights, women, and life itself. In Fosse, Wasson’s stylish, effervescent prose proves the ideal vehicle for reanimating Bob Fosse as he truly was—after hours, close up, and in vibrant color.

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200822

Quotes & Awards

  • “Mr. Wasson is a smart and savvy reporter, and his book abounds with colorful firsthand tales…Required reading for anyone eager to understand [Fosse’s] brand of—to use a term that appears here constantly, and can’t be outdone—razzle-dazzle. And to see through his darkness.”

    New York Times

  • “Bob Fosse, the legendary Broadway choreographer and director…is the glittering, neurotic soul of showbiz in this scintillating biography…Embedded within this exhilarating, appalling portrait is a revealing account of Fosse’s dance innovations…There’s an enormous amount of scholarship here, yet the story never drags, so adroitly does [Wasson] blend his material into a fluent narrative around evocative scenes where character emerges novelistically.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “Wasson takes readers on a wild ride through the life of Bob Fosse…The author interviewed more than three hundred of the artist’s friends, relatives, and competitors for this book, and his hard work is evident in the intricate depiction of a complicated, brilliant man. A thoroughly researched and fascinating look at Fosse, viewed through the relationships and work that defined him. Highly recommended for theater or movie aficionados, aspiring performers, and fans of engrossing biography.”

    Library Journal (starred review)

  • “Here’s something you can’t say about many celebrity biographies: at nearly 750 pages, it feels like it ends too soon. Wasson is such a lively, engaging writer that, as he takes us through the life and career of the multi-award-winning choreographer and director Bob Fosse, we scarcely notice we’re turning the pages—until there are no more to turn…Combining keen analysis of Fosse’s stage and screen works with a compassionate look at Fosse’s often-tumultuous personal life, the book is everything you could want in a celebrity bio, without any of the gossipy, trashy, third-handrumory rubbish that makes too many biographies so painful to read. This one’s a pure joy to read, cover to cover; you read it not merely for Fosse’s story but also for Wasson’s inventive way of telling it. If this book doesn’t turn up on some literary-awards lists, it’ll be a serious crime.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “The lushly researched life of celebrated dancer, choreographer, and director (stage, films, TV) Bob Fosse. Film critic and biographer Wasson has amassed a mountain of data about Fosse but has sculpted it into something moving and memorable…Graceful prose creates a richly detailed and poignant portrait.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • A 2013 Entertainment Weekly Best Book for Nonfiction
  • A Los Angeles Times Bestseller
  • A 2013 NPR Best Book
  • A 2013 Chicago Tribune Noteworthy Book
  • A Publishers Weekly Pick of the Week, November 2013
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About the Author

Sam Wasson is the author of the New York Times bestseller Fifth Avenue, 5 a.m.: Audrey Hepburn, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” and the Dawn of the Modern Woman and two works of film criticism. He is a visiting professor of film at Wesleyan University.