Wednesday December 16, 2020
Ann Reinking (1949-2020)
Embodying everything Fosse in “All That Jazz.”
I wrote this in June 2008 when Cyd Charisse died:
A few months ago Patricia and I were watching All That Jazz when that great “Everything Old is New Again” dance number came on, with Ann Reinking and little Erzsebet Foldi performing for Roy Scheider. I was stunned all over again by the effortless, long-legged grace of Ms. Reinking, who, unfortunately, came of age at a time when the movies were no longer interested in effortless, long-legged grace. “She could've been another Cyd Charisse,” I thought.
She could've been. Should've been. What we missed.
Here's how much she was born at the wrong time. She only has eight acting credits listed on IMDb. Eight. For Ann Reinking. And three of those are TV episodes: “Ellery Queen,” something called “The Andros Targets” and “The Cosby Show.” So just five movies—one of which is a TV movie.
Here's more of how much she was born at the wrong time. Of those five movies, three are set in the 1930s: “Movie Movie,” “Annie” and “A Night on the Town.” So even when they hired her, they didn't keep her contemporary. I can't help but think of what she could've done with Busby Berkeley in the '30s, or opposite Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly in the '40s and '50s. If we'd truly transported her back to the '30s—the conceit of “Night on the Town”—she would've given Jospeh Breen a heart attack.
She loomed large for me even though I never saw her on the stage and barely in the movies. I recently tried watching “Movie Movie” but even with my current predilection for '30s films I couldn't make it through it. I've only seen “Annie” on stage. “Micki and Maude”? '80s Dudley Moore. Nah. “All That Jazz,” though, I've seen at least a half dozen times. And the “Everything Old” number? Dozens and dozens. That moment at 1:10 when she does that show-horse step? Wow. Throughout, really. Wow.
She was from Seattle—i didn't know that—and died close by, in Woodinville, visiting her brother. She died in her sleep. The way to go. A tribute in The New York Times describes her as playful, refined and with legs for days.