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Lay for the Day 25th September

1936: the dancer and actress Juliet Prowse is born in Bombay. She was raised in South Africa and trained as a ballerina, but grew to be too tall (nearly six feet). She became a nightclub dancer and was spotted by the choreographer Hermés Pan who brought her to Hollywood.
The highlight of her cinema career was playing the role of Claudine, the soubrette (laundress) and dancing girl, in the film of Cole Porter’s musical Can-Can (1960), starring Frank Sinatra, Shirley Maclaine, Louis Jourdan and Maurice Chevalier. Prowse’s role would have been bigger if it had followed the book of the show, but Maclaine wanted the two female leads combined into one part.
Halliwell calls it “a flat film of a dull musical”, but it does include a memorable Garden of Eden ballet sequence in which Prowse dances the role of the Serpent delectably. She should have had – i.e. her character had in the original show – the role of Eve in the ballet, as well as Maclaine’s other big solo number, the Apache Dance.
The shooting of the film led to a brief romance with Sinatra, to whom she was engaged for five months. Sinatra’s best number in the film, ‘It’s Alright With Me’ – “You can't know how happy I am that we met / I’m strangely attracted to you / There’s someone I’m trying so hard to forget / Don’t you want to forget someone too?” – is sung to her, in vintage Only the Lonely style.
The movie garnered huge publicity when the set was visited by Nikita Khrushchev, the leader of the Soviet Union. He met the cast and was treated to the full can-can routine by the chorus. He was, or affected to be, shocked by this demonstration of capitalistic decadence.
Juliet Prowse died on 14th September 1996 in Los Angeles.

Juliette

I thought I might marry
This girl from gay Paree.
She kissed me in French,
Making love in the perfect tense.
Now my eyes fly the red, white and blue
After crying for you,
Juliette – Juliette.

How could I tell when I met you
I wouldn’t get to forget you,
Juliette – Juliette?

You wasted no time
In coming where I am
To make us connect.
Some things just lead to the next.
One day I’m wanted – in two
I’m haunted by you,
Juliette – Juliette.

I loved you before there was after,
I loved your looks and your laughter,
Juliette – Juliette.
I know there are times, there are places,
There are buttons and zippers and laces,
Juliettte – Juliette.

I’ll take that train-ride
To walk by the Seine side
With you, madamoiselle,
And sit near the Sainte-Chapelle.
Where the red, brown and golden leaves flow,
I’ll love you till you know,
Juliette – Juliette.

 

Words and music by The Children
 

 

The Lay Reader: an archive of the poetic calendar