Tommy Rall

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Tommy Rall
Thomas Edward Rall

(1929-12-27)December 27, 1929
DiedOctober 6, 2020(2020-10-06) (aged 90)
OccupationActor, dancer
Years active1942–1988
Spouse(s)Monte Amundsen (1959–19??; divorced)
Karel J. Shimoff (1967–2020)

Thomas Edward Rall (December 27, 1929 – October 6, 2020) was an American actor, ballet dancer, tap dancer, and acrobatic dancer who was a prominent featured player in 1950s musical comedies. He later became a successful operatic tenor in the 1960s, making appearances with the Opera Company of Boston, the New York City Opera, and the American National Opera Company.

Life and career[edit]

Rall was born in Kansas City, Missouri to Edward and Margaret Rall,[1] but raised in Seattle, Washington. An only child, he had a crossed eye which made it hard for him to read books, so his mother enrolled him in dancing classes. In his early years he performed a dance and acrobatic vaudeville act in Seattle theaters and attempted small acting roles.[2]

His family moved to Los Angeles in the 1940s, and Rall began to appear in small movie roles. His first film appearance was a short MGM film called Vendetta. He began taking tap dancing lessons and became a member of the jitterbugging Jivin' Jacks and Jills at Universal Studios.[3][2]

Rall joined Donald O'Connor, Peggy Ryan, and Shirley Mills in several light wartime Andrews Sisters vehicles including Give Out, Sisters (1942),[4] Get Hep to Love (1942),[5] and Mister Big (1943), among others. He appeared in the films The North Star and Song of Russia (1944).[6]

Rall took ballet lessons and danced in classical and Broadway shows, including Milk and Honey, Call Me Madam, and Cry for Us All. Jerry Herman said of Rall in Milk and Honey: "[Donald] [Saddler] did extraordinary choreography for Tommy Rall, who was suddenly so admired by the audience that [the producer] put his name on the marquee under the three stars. It was very, very earned by him. He was a terrific singer and dancer."[7]

He is best known for his acrobatic dancing in several classic musical films of the 1950s, including Kiss Me, Kate as "Bill" (1953),[8] Seven Brides for Seven Brothers as "Frank" (1954),[9] Invitation to the Dance (1956),[10] Merry Andrew as "Giacomo Gallini" (1958),[11] and My Sister Eileen as "Chick" (1955).[12]

Rall's film career waned as movie musicals went into decline. He had a role in the movie Funny Girl, as "The Prince" in a parody of the ballet Swan Lake.[13] On Broadway he danced to acclaim as "Johnny" in Marc Blitzstein and Joseph Stein's 1959 musical Juno (based on Seán O'Casey's play Juno and the Paycock).[3] Ken Mandelbaum wrote: "DeMille provided two fine ballets: her second act 'Johnny' in which Tommy Rall danced out Johnny's emotions...was the evening's highlight."[14]

He took the title role in a production of Massenet's Le Jongleur de Notre Dame by the New England Opera Theatre in Boston in 1961 in a role which required both singing and juggling and dancing.[15]

Rall was highly respected by his contemporaries—including dance greats Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor—with the latter describing Rall as one of the “greatest dancers living...above Astaire and Kelly.”[16]

Personal life[edit]

Rall was briefly married to his Juno co-star Monte Amundsen.[14] He later married former ballerina Karel Shimoff.[2]

In 2007, a Texas dance instructor by the name of Fredric Brame was found to have been posing as Tommy Rall since the late 1960s. When Rall found out about the masquerade decades later, through a friend of the family, Rall contacted the Montgomery County, Texas Sheriff's office. No legal action was taken against Brame. Rall wanted Brame to stop taking credit for his work and warned that if he continued or did it again a lawsuit would be filed.[17]


In September 2020, Rall had heart surgery and recovered at the Fireside Health Center (Santa Monica, California). Subsequently, in October, he had additional heart surgery at Providence Saint John's Health Center (Santa Monica, California). He died around 5 P.M. on October 6 of congestive heart failure, aged 90. He was survived by his wife, Karel, and their son, Aaron, a Lieutenant-Colonel in the US Army. Another son, David, predeceased his parents. [18]


Sources: TCM;[19] MasterWorks Broadway[2]


Short Subjects:

  • Vendetta (1942) as Bit Part (uncredited)
  • Trumpet Serenade (1942) as Himself - Member, 'The Jivin' Jacks and Jills'

Stage work, Broadway[edit]

Source: MasterWorksBroadway;[2] Internet Broadway Database[20]


  1. ^ "Edward Rall in the 1940 Census". 2019-12-12. Retrieved 2022-01-01.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Tommy Rall". The Official Masterworks Broadway Site. 2015-02-25. Retrieved 2022-01-01.
  3. ^ a b Bruce Eder (2012). "Full Biography: Tommy Rall". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. Archived from the original on 4 November 2012. Retrieved July 20, 2012.
  4. ^ Toole, Michael T. (2021-12-31). "- Turner Classic Movies". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 2022-01-01.
  5. ^ Toole, Michael T. (2021-12-31). "- Turner Classic Movies". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 2022-01-01.
  6. ^ Landazuri, Margarita (2021-12-31). "- Turner Classic Movies". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 2022-01-01.
  7. ^ Jones, Kenneth (2011-10-17). "'Like a Young Man': Jerry Herman Talks About Milk and Honey". Playbill. Retrieved 2022-01-01.
  8. ^ "- Turner Classic Movies". Turner Classic Movies. 2021-12-15. Retrieved 2022-01-01.
  9. ^ "- Turner Classic Movies". Turner Classic Movies. 2021-12-15. Retrieved 2022-01-01.
  10. ^ Invitation to the Dance, accessed December 24, 2016
  11. ^ Passafiume, Andrea (2021-12-31). "- Turner Classic Movies". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 2022-01-01.
  12. ^ Looney, Deborah (2021-12-22). "- Turner Classic Movies". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 2022-01-01.
  13. ^ Funny Girl American Film Institute, accedded December 25, 2016
  14. ^ a b Mandelbaum, Ken. Juno Not Since Carrie: Forty Years of Broadway Musical Flops, Macmillan, 1992, ISBN 0312082738, p. 312
  15. ^ William Allin Storrer. Report from Boston. Opera July 1961, Vol.12, No.7, p450.
  16. ^ Aloff, Mindy (2003-10-13). "Donald O'Connor interview". dance reviews. Retrieved 2022-01-01.
  17. ^ Lee, Renée C. (2011-07-25). "Dance teacher: Decades of lies weren't my fault". Chron. Retrieved 2022-01-01.
  18. ^ "Tommy Rall, Dancer in 'Kiss Me Kate' and 'Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,' Dies at 90". The Hollywood Reporter. October 8, 2020.
  19. ^ "- Turner Classic Movies". Turner Classic Movies. 2021-12-28. Retrieved 2022-01-01.
  20. ^ "Tommy Rall Broadway", accessed December 24, 2016


External links[edit]