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biography . . .
|Chapter 1: The Early Years||Chapter 4: More Film Work|
|Chapter 2: Broadway|
|Chapter 5: Back to Broadway|
|Chapter 6: Beyond Broadway|
|Chapter 3: MGM|
|Chapter 6: Beyond Broadway|
|It is unclear when Tommy and Amundsen parted ways, but in 1967, Tommy married his current wife, ballerina Karel Shimoff (seen briefly in a funny cameo as the exhausted Russian ballerina in the film version of Bye Bye, Birdie). With Tommy’s Broadway career at an end, they moved to his childhood home of Seattle in the early 1970’s to raise their family. Tommy became a member of the dance faculty of the University of Washington and taught there for six years.
Between the late 1960s and 1980s, Tommy worked sporadically in films directed by former American Ballet Theatre choreographer, Herbert Ross. His first appearance was a great cameo in Barbra Streisand’s Funny Girl as her confused dance partner in a spoof of Swan Lake (Ross directed only the dance sequences in Funny Girl; William Wyler was the film’s primary director). In 1981, Tommy danced in a vaudeville-style tap number to “It’s a Girl” with Steve Martin and Robert Fitch in Ross’ Pennies From Heaven. Tommy’s solo included an aerial cartwheel, similar to those he did nearly 40 years prior in Private Buckaroo, Kiss Me Kate and Invitation to the Dance. He also appeared as Mikhail Baryshnikov’s former ballet colleague, Patrick, in 1987’s Dancers.
Tommy also appeared as Klotsky the Clown in Mel Brooks’ 1983 remake of To Be or Not to Be. With the exception of a black and white street scene, his face was obscured by clown makeup throughout the film. Oddly, his name was not listed in the film's credits. He was also in full makeup in a microscopic part as “the werewolf” in the truly awful Saturday the 14th Strikes Back in 1988.
As if consummate acting, dancing and singing seem a veritable wealth of abilities, Tommy Rall is also an accomplished visual artist. He began drawing and painting as a child and first studied formally with Sueo Serisawa in Los Angeles. He also studied drawing under Herbert Jepson at the Chouinard Art Institute for two years and at the Art Students League in New York. A small sampling of his paintings may be viewed in Actors as Artists by Jim McMullan and Dick Gautier.
What is Tommy Rall up to now? According to a 2003 article written by David Chierichetti in "Classic Images Magazine," Tommy works at a bank and continues his painting projects. He and Ms. Shimoff live in a suburb of Los Angeles.
Donald O’Connor stated in a 1979 interview in Willamette Week that, as an overall dancer, Tommy Rall is one of the “greatest dancers living...above Astaire and Kelly.” Great praise from a wonderful dancer in his own right. But, as his rich career clearly shows, Tommy Rall is much more than that. Dancer, singer, actor, choreographer, acrobat, artist, this under appreciated performer who has left a wonderful legacy in the worlds of film, theatre and art...and we are extremely fortunate for it.
|Tommy, Steve Martin, Robert Fitch|