New Bedford Woman’s Contribution to a Beloved Film Classic
It's fantastic that more and more, filmmakers are choosing the SouthCoast as a location for their movies. It also brings to mind a legendary actress/dancer born and raised in New Bedford.
I'm willing to bet, a lot of people, young and older, have no idea who Carol Haney was. It seems her own hometown is also indifferent to bragging about one of Hollywood's and Broadway's greatest dancers, actresses and choreographers,
Haney was born in the Whaling City in 1924, and was a 1942 graduate of New Bedford High School. She opened and operated Miss Haney's School of Dance here before heading for the footlights of Tinseltown. Local lore suggests that when Haney was a young child, a Portuguese fortune teller in New Bedford told her that movie and stage stardom was in the cards.
That prophecy probably didn't include that Haney's first 15 years after high school would be full of struggles, being passed over many times while trying to make a living through bit dance parts. That's when legendary choreographer Jack Cole discovered Haney. She eventually became his dance partner, and that opened many major golden opportunities.
One of the leading dance roles in the film Singin' in the Rain was initially meant for Haney, but she was replaced after Gene Kelly spotted Cyd Charisse, who'd go on to become another silken dancer of the movies. Despite that, Haney continued to help, guide and support Charisse in rehearsals.
Back then, many musical films with tap dancing had the sound effects of the tapping enhanced through technical means by the sound department, and Singin' in the Rain was no exception. When you see the famous dance number of Gene Kelly prancing and whirling around street lamps, the tap sounds you hear are not from Kelly's footsteps, but from Haney and Gwen Verdon, adding all the splishing and splashing tap sounds by re-enacting the exact dance routine you see Kelly performing in the movie.
As we commemorate the classic film's 70th anniversary, it's enriching to know one of the most iconic scenes in motion picture history was co-created by New Bedford's own dancing superstar, Carol Haney, who never received any credit for it.
This confidential detail was kept quiet for a long time. Now that millions of fans were told the truth about Haney's contribution to Singin' in the Rain, maybe people will start appreciating her stardom.