|The Early Stage Days
UPDATE 09-18-06: Hopefully, this is the first of many pics and info of Lizanne. IMDb poster
doroberts-1 rummaged through his ephemera and unearthed this nugget from a souvenir
program issued by Agnes De Mille's dance troupe. He joins the pantheon of demi-gods
populated by ruby-red22 and justoldbill, who also made major contributions to The Quest.
|This solid bit of info gives us a glimpse of her earlier work, which primed her for "Oklahoma!",
and I think, puts to bed the nagging question of her having connections
in getting that choice part.
She not only had the experience and standing in the dance community,
she was a member of the de Mille group -- thus everything falls into place.
The picture has a charming 1900s quality about it and nicely captures Lizanne's winsome beauty.
Searching for information on this elusive lovely sometimes takes on a Sherlockian tone, with
tantalizing small bits of info as well as false or empty leads . The latest in that last category
was a question as to whether she was related to Ernest Truex, who had a nice career as a
Dr. John A. Horner, Missouri Valley Special Collections, Kansas City Public Library, did
some extensive digging and could not find any connection between the two, nor could he
find any information on the "Kansas City Guild of Arts". I had a sudden inspiration that
maybe there was a Kansas City, Kansas connection, but that request also brought a "not
found" reply from their librarian.
Another photo from the De Mille program, courtesy doroberts-1. The dancers aren't identified,
but it sure looks like Lizanne in the lower left, before her stunning transformation into a
UPDATE 01-27-09: So much for my eyesight. In a conversation with Lizanne, she said that
actually, she is the left-hand girl in the second row. The scene is from "Paint Your Wagon".
|The same De Mille program
showed up on eBay
in October 2006 and was spotted
by a good friend,
who has also developed a crush on our pixie.
He graciously forwarded it,
AND an undiscovered copy
of a Chicago Opera program where the de
Mille group performed.
Yikes! An unexpected bonus,
which keeps my hopes alive that now some
unknown post-"Oklahoma!" data will surface.
Three performances were given,
Friday and Saturday evenings
and a Sunday matinee.
"Oklahoma!" started casting and filming
soon after these performances.
|Ms. de Mille modified existing dances from two stage plays.
It would have been interesting to see her version,
but this was the pre-VCR days, so none of these performances, as far as I know, exist.
Note some familiar names, which showed up in "Oklahoma!" --
James Mitchell, Evelyn Taylor, and Lizanne.
UPDATE 07-05-08: Liz said that the dancers HATED the bumblebee routine as they had to
bend over with their arms outstretched and vigorously shake their heads as buzzing bees while
running about the stage. "When Agnes said 'Shake your head', she really meat SHAKE your
head, and when we stopped, our eyes were so out of focus, we always worried about returning
to our marks."
|This dance was a modified version taken from "Paint Your Wagon".
There's a pic from "Many A New Day",
which shows a buff (according to my granddaughter) Lizanne,
so she must have been a natural for "Hysteria Nibbs, the child weight lifter".
You have to wonder if Ms. De Mille got the idea to use Lizanne
as one of the Goon Girls in "Oklahoma!" from this peformance.
She was a perfect "teen" for the part because of her diminutive size.
UPDATE 02-21-07: A similar program showed up, this one from performances in New York
City. The seller stated that while it was undated, it was a scarce one and appeared to be from
1947. For confirmation he used (and enclosed) a New York Times article describing a benefit
performance for the Spanish Republican veterans (Spanish Civil War) that had a similar
The early date threw me off as I doubted Lizanne was THAT old. I bought the program and
discovered that while the programs content was similar, it was a far better match for the
above 1954 Chicago appearance, since, among all other performances, it had one I would
have loved to have seen, for the "Histerea Nibbs" title alone. In any event, our little pixie
sure got around (see next page).
UPDATE 05-12-07: In a telephone interview with Larry Billman, Liz said that she received a
call from Agnes DeMille to do a part in "Kansas City" (how's THAT for a bona fide?). When
director Fred Zinneman saw how well Liz and Jane worked together, he used them throughout
the rest of the movie. So, I believe that answers the question as to why the "Goon Girls" were
created. Fred, besides being a fine director, evidently also had a damn good eye for talent and
I suspect that is why Liz was highlighted as often as she was.
|THE AGNES DE MILLE DANCE TROUPE