Seymour Felix: Oscar Winning Choreographer

Here’s a story about an unjustly forgotten vaudeville veteran who made good — all the way to the Oscars. Seymour Felix (Seymour Simon, 1892-1961) started out in vaudeville as a hoofer at age 15. His first Broadway credit came within the year, when he played George M. Cohan in The Mimic World (1908).

In 1923 Felix returned to Broadway as a choreographer, staging dances for 15 shows over the next decade, including The Passing Show of 1924, Artists and Models (1924), Big Boy with Al Jolson (1925),  Gay Paree (1926), Hit the Deck (1927), Rosalie with Marilyn Miller (1928), Whoopee! with Eddie Cantor (1928 — he also directed this show), Simple Simon with Ed Wynn (1930), and Strike Me Pink (1933) with Jimmy Durante.

By now talkies were in full swing. Felix had earlier staged dances for Sunny Side Up (1929) with Janet Gaynor, and then, curiously directed two non-musical films Girls Demand Excitement (1931) with Virginia Cherrill, John Wayne and Marguerite Churchill; and Stepping Sisters (1932), with Marie Dressler, Jobyna Howland and William Collier Sr. In 1933 he returned as a choreographer full time, staging dances for three dozen pictures, including The Great Ziegfeld (1936, for which he won an Oscar), After the Thin Man (1936), On the Avenue (1937), Alexander’s Ragtime Band (1938), Rose of Washington Square (1939), Lillian Russell (1940), Tin Pan Alley (1940), Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942), Cover Girl (1944), Atlantic City (1944), The Dolly Sisters (1945), Oh You Beautiful Doll (1949), and The I Don’t Care Girl (1953). Read about many of these films in my series on musical bio-pics, which begins here.  Felix’s last credit was a 1955 episode of Our Miss Brooks

To learn more about vaudeville, please see No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous.