Most famous as the director-choreographer of over-the-top dance numbers in 1930's Hollywood musicals. Even if you've never seen his movies, most people are familiar with the aerial shots of women forming geometric patterns, diving into swimming pools, &c.

William Berkeley Enos was born on November 29, 1895 in Los Angeles, California. He became seriously involved in theatre when he got out of the army after serving in WWI. He quickly became one of Broadway's top musical directors, despite having no formal training, and was the first person to both direct and choreograph a Broadway show.

In 1930, he was invited by Samuel Goldwyn to choreograph the film version of "Whoopee!" starring Eddie Cantor (whom Berkeley had worked with in stage production). He worked on a handful of movies for MGM, but then switched to Warner Bros. It was here that Berkeley really took off, starting with "42nd Street" in 1933. His scenes required elaborate sets, involving tiers, revolving stages, mirrors, swimming pools, and other props. In addition to choregraphing the scenes, Berkeley took over direction of them, drilling holes in the ceiling and putting the cameras on monorails to create the images he wanted. The dances were huge, kaleidoscopic, psychedelic, and often sexually suggestive. Audiences, seeking distraction from the Depression, loved it.

As the 1940's came, though, the popularity of Berkeley's brand of musical waned. He switched gears, taking on a full directorial role of some non-musicals for Warner Bros. He did some more musicals for other studios, including Gene Kelly's first film, "For Me and My Girl" (1942). In "The Gang's All Here" (1943) he used Technicolor for the first time. This film also featured Carmen Miranda, "The Lady in the Tutti-Fruitti Hat". Berkeley continued to make films through the 1950's, although his role became more and more minor. In 1970 he directed a revival of the Broadway show "No No Nanette", which was a huge success.

Berkeley was married and divorced 3 times. He always lived with his mother. Alcohol was a problem for him, and he was involved in a drunk-driving accident that killed 2 people. (I haven't been able to find the year that this happened). After his mother died, he attempted suicide, by slitting his wrists and taking sleeping pills. Although he survived, he never really recovered. He died on March 14, 1976

For an extensive filmography, see http://us.imdb.com/Name?Berkeley,+Busby

Log in or registerto write something here or to contact authors.