Hermes Pan

Active - 1934 - 1984  |   Born - Dec 10, 1909   |   Died - Sep 19, 1990   |   Genres - Musical, Romance, Comedy

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Biography by AllMovie

His given name was Pangiotopolous, but the Nashville-born dancer/choreographer adopted the mythological cognomen of Hermes Pan when he became a professional chorus boy. Among Pan's earliest Broadway appearances was in the Marx Bros. vehicle Animal Crackers in 1928. From 1933 onward, Pan worked most often in collaboration with Fred Astaire, plotting out the dance routines of the wonderful RKO Astaire/Rogers films. The working method seldom varied: Pan, who resembled Astaire, would map out Astaire's numbers while Astaire watched. Then he would assume Ginger Rogers' part when the dance duets were choreographed -- meaning that Pan had to be just as quick on his feet backwards as forwards. Oddly, Pan's first Academy Award was for Damsel in Distress, in which Astaire appeared without Ginger. Pan appeared onscreen as Betty Grable's partner in Moon Over Miami (1942), and was later paired with Rita Hayworth in My Gal Sal (1942); in both instances, Pan was exclusively a dancer, with nary a line of dialogue nor a character name. He finally did get to act in A Life of Her Own, a 1948 MGM musical drama starring Cyd Charisse. Pan continued his association with Fred Astaire into the television era, accruing an Emmy for the unforgettable 1958 special An Evening With Fred Astaire. In 1970, advertiser/satirist Stan Freberg hired Pan to choreograph a Busby Berkeley takeoff for his legendary "Great American Soups" commercial starring Ann Miller. Long after his retirement, Hermes Pan continued to be honored by a grateful industry: he received the National Film Award in 1980 and a special trophy from the Joffrey ballet in 1986.

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