'Fosse/Verdon': The true story behind Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon's epic and tumultuous relationship

FX's upcoming series 'Fosse/Verdon' will explore the complicated relationship between Broadway legends Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon played by Sam Rockwell and Michelle Williams


                            'Fosse/Verdon': The true story behind Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon's epic and tumultuous relationship

Broadway legends Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon — the iconic Tony Award winners who changed the face of American entertainment forever — are at the centre of FX's upcoming limited series 'Fosse/Verdon' slated to premiere on April 9.

The show will explore the complicated relationship between the two with Sam Rockwell and Michelle Williams taking the center stage as Fosse and Verdon, respectively. Is it just us or does Michelle Williams actually look exactly like Gwen Verdon?

The show is determined to portray the lives of the dance greats as accurate as it can with Fosse and Verdon's daughter, Nicole Fosse, serving as the co-executive producer of the limited series.

The show is primarily based on Sam Wasson’s 2013 biography 'Fosse' and has been tailored for TV by Steven Levenson, Thomas Kail, and Lin-Manuel Miranda. The book sprawls over 700 pages and explores various aspects of Fosse's personal and professional life. However, the series will focus on the latter and, in particular, explore Fosse's romantic and tumultuous relationship with Verdon.

Before getting completely immersed in the FX Broadway series, here's a look at the true story behind the upcoming show.

How did they meet?

Actress Gwen Verdon (1925 - 2000) and husband, choreographer Bob Fosse (1927 - 1987), in their apartment in New York, New York, March 24, 1966. (Photo by Martha Holmes/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)
Actress Gwen Verdon (1925 - 2000) and husband, choreographer Bob Fosse (1927 - 1987), in their apartment in New York, New York, March 24, 1966. (Photo by Martha Holmes/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)

In the early 1950s, Gwen Verdon and Bob Fosse had heard of each other since they were in the same industry but they were yet to cross paths. In the spring of 1955, that changed as the celebrated producer Hal Prince and director George Abbott of the Broadway musical 'Damn Yankees' suggested to the newly hired choreographer, Bob Fosse, the idea of casting Gwen Verdon for the lead female role 'Lola.'

Fosse was hesitant at first but finally agreed to meet Verdon with the condition that he would get to spend a few days in a rehearsal hall to see her work. What followed after the meeting is etched in history as they went on to become the most accomplished creative couple of the American Broadway musicals, collaborating on stage and film for the next three decades.

Their professional relationship:

After the success of 'Damn Yankees,' Fosse and Verdon collaborated on the 1960 Broadway musical 'Redhead' which Fosse directed and Verdon starred in. Earning six Tony Awards, they soon became a powerhouse and continued their successful collaboration with 'Candy Charity' and 'Chicago.' 

Fosse gained eight Tony awards all through his profession as a choreographer. He additionally gained an Oscar for steering the movie adaptation of the musical 'Cabaret.' Verdon was one of the most celebrated dancers on Broadway with four Tony awards all through her profession. Despite their rocky marriage, they continued their professional partnership.

Their romantic relationship:

Because of their on-stage chemistry, they were immediately linked during their rehearsals of 'Damn Yankees.' After meeting in 1955, the eventually married in 1960 and welcomed a daughter in 1963. However, their marriage wasn't the epic fairytale one would imagine. Their relationship was plagued by infidelity, drug use, and alcohol abuse.

Fosse’s affairs with young dancers were not unknown to the world and the power couple separated in 1971 but legally remained married till Fosse's death in 1987. It was rumored that Fosse's affair with Jessica Lange was the last straw for Verdon. 

Despite their tumultuous relationship and romance coming to an end, they continued to publicly support each other and kept mum about their personal troubles. Fosse once said that the happiest instance he ever had with Verdon was when "we had been working collectively." Before his death, when Fosse suffered a heart attack, he collapsed in Verdon's arms. After his demise, she carried on his legacy by supervising the Broadway revival of Chicago.