John Brascia

John F. Brascia (May 11, 1932 – February 19, 2013) was an American actor and dancer, best known for his dancing partnerships on film with Vera-Ellen in White Christmas (1954)[1] and with Cyd Charisse and Liliane Montevecchi in Meet Me in Las Vegas (1956).

John Brascia
Born(1932-05-11)May 11, 1932
DiedFebruary 19, 2013(2013-02-19) (aged 80)
Years active1950-1980
Spouse(s)Tybee Arfa
(divorced)
Sondra Scott (m. December 1970, divorced) Jordan Michaels
(m. 1986)
Children2
FamilyCade McNown (son-in-law)

Early lifeEdit

John Frank Brascia was born on May 11, 1932 in California, to Italian immigrants Gaetano Brascia and Caterina Napolitano. The Brascia clan including grandparents Mike and Consetta Brascia moved from Brooklyn, New York, before John Frank was born. He had two siblings, Cecilia and Vincent.

Brascia was a high-school basketball player beginning in his sophomore year at Colton High School as co-captain. At 5’11" he took the position of guard in his junior year; he was a starter for the Colton Yellowjackets. He played for Colton on the football squad as the starting quarterback in his junior and senior years.

CareerEdit

FilmEdit

Brascia was a featured dancer with Vera-Ellen in White Christmas (1954)[1] and with Cyd Charisse and Liliane Montevecchi in Meet Me in Las Vegas (1956). With dancer and wife, Tybee Arfa (1932–1982), he formed the dance team Brascia and Tybee, which, beginning in 1957, began appearing as the opening act for artists like Frank Sinatra, Lena Horne, Tony Martin and George Burns, among others.[2] Married in 1958,[3] the duo appeared frequently on television's The Ed Sullivan Show (1958–66) and on The Hollywood Palace (1967).

Brascia began acting in non-dancing film roles beginning in 1967, culminating in The Baltimore Bullet (1980), which he produced and was credited with the film's story and screenplay.[4]

BroadwayEdit

Brascia made his Broadway debut on February 11, 1953 in the musical version of the film "Nothing Sacred," titled Hazel Flagg, which featured a score by Jule Styne and Bob Hilliard.[5][6] The production was supervised and choreographed by Robert Alton (who choreographed the film White Christmas, featuring Brascia, a year later). Brascia won a Donaldson Award for his performance in the musical.[7][8]

NightclubsEdit

John Brascia was a featured dancer in The Magic Carpet Revue, New York - Paris - Paradise, which opened at the Dunes Hotel in Las Vegas on May 23, 1955 and starred Vera-Ellen with a cast of 60.

"... the entire evening was built around Vera-Ellen, who tapped and did ballet and sang, happily undubbed, and wore gorgeous costumes by Hollywood's famed designer Howard Shoup. ... Her routines were based on those developed for her by Robert Alton. She did partnered dances with friend John Brascia, who was also given solo dancing opportunities."[9]

ReviewsEdit

Meet Me in Las Vegas " ... the best thing, by far, is the finale — a gaudy, satiric ballet, done to the old "Frankie and Johnny" ballad, as arranged by Johnny Green. Miss Charisse is accompanied in this one by Liliane Montevecchi as "the other dame" and John Brascia as the luckless Johnny, and the ballad, with modern bebop lyrics, by Sammy Cahn, is sung by the off-screen voice of Sammy Davis Jr. It's crazy, man! And cool!" -- Bosley Crowther, New York Times[10]

Personal lifeEdit

Brascia was married 3 times. He married his dance partner, Tybee Arfa, in 1958.[11]

His second marriage was to actress and model Sondra Scott, with whom he had a daughter. That marriage also ended in divorce.[12]

He married actress and model Jordan Michaels in 1986. The couple had a daughter.[12]

DeathEdit

Brascia died in 2013, aged 80, and was survived by Jordan Michaels Brascia, his two daughters, and extended family. His son-in-law (by his older daughter) was football player Cade McNown.[12]

FilmographyEdit

Year Title Role Notes
1950 Summer Stock Dancer Uncredited
1953 Call Me Madam Dancer in 'The Ocarina' Number Uncredited
1953 Torch Song Dancer Uncredited
1954 White Christmas John
1956 Meet Me in Las Vegas Specialty Dancer
1967 The Ambushers Rocco
1969 The Wrecking Crew Karl
1973 Walking Tall Prentiss Parley
1973 Executive Action Rifleman - Team B
1974 Pray for the Wildcats Captain Guiterrez TV movie
1975 S.W.A.T. Tom TV Series, 2 episodes
1976 Joe and Sons Piggy TV Series, 1 episode
1980 The Baltimore Bullet Poker Player, New Orleans (final film role)

NotesEdit

  1. ^ a b "Bingle All The Way - Crosby And Kaye Celebrate An Early 'White Christmas'". Life. 1954-10-11. Retrieved 2018-02-02. (photo and caption) Vera-Ellen and John Brascia in "Abraham" dance
  2. ^ Powell (2007), pp. 169-71.
  3. ^ Powell (2007), pg. 251.
  4. ^ "The Baltimore Bullet (1980)". IMDb.com. Retrieved 16 April 2018.
  5. ^ "Hazel Flagg". IBDb.com. Retrieved 16 April 2018.
  6. ^ Bloom and Vlastnik (2004), pg. 312. Color photo of Brascia with Helen Gallagher.
  7. ^ Suskin (1990), pg. 294.
  8. ^ Powell (2007), pg. 170. Powell incorrectly reports that John Brascia won a Tony Award; she must have confused this with the Donaldson Award.
  9. ^ Soren (2003), pp. 159-60.
  10. ^ Crowther, Bosley (1956-03-14). "Review: 'Meet me in Las Vegas'". The New York Times.
  11. ^ Palumbo, Michael (2013-02-22). "Dancer John Brascia dies at 80". Variety. Retrieved 2018-02-02.
  12. ^ a b c Barnes, Mike (2013-02-21). "'White Christmas' Dancer John Brascia Dies at 80". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2018-02-02.

ReferencesEdit

  • Bloom, Ken and Vlastnik, Frank. Broadway Musicals - The 101 Greatest Shows Of All Time. New York: Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, 2004. ISBN 1-57912-390-2.
  • Powell, Josephine. Tito Puente: When The Drums Are Dreaming. Bloomington, IN: Author House, 2007. ISBN 978-1-4259-8158-7 (hard cover). ISBN 978-1-4259-8157-0 (soft cover).
  • Soren, David, with Banasiak, Meredith and Johnston, Bob. Vera-Ellen - The Magic and the Mystery. Baltimore, MD: Luminary Press, 2003. ISBN 1-887664-48-3.
  • Suskin, Steven. Opening Night On Broadway - A Critical Quotebook of the Golden Era of the Musical Theatre, Oklahoma! (1943) to Fiddler on the Roof (1964). New York: Schirmer Books, 1990. ISBN 0-02-872625-1.

External linksEdit