Lucille Bremer (1917 – 1996)

Dancer / Actress on stage and film

Lucille Bremer was born in Amsterdam, New York on February 21, 1917. She took dance lessons beginning at age seven, and by age 16 was a Rockette at Radio City Music Hall. She was in the chorus line in “Panama Hattie” (1940) and played an ingenue part in “Lady in the Dark” (1941).

In 1944 Arthur Freed, MGM’s legendary musical producer, spotted her in a floor show at the Versailles Restaurant. At Freed’s invitation, Miss Bremer was screen tested in a scene from “Dark Victory.” Louis B. Mayer was enthusiastic about Miss Bremer’s talent, and advised Freed that “…She’s going to be big, very big.” MGM offered Miss Bremer a contract, and she was assigned to the Freed unit. Lucille studied dramatic acting under MGM’s studio drama coach, Lillian Burns, and Freed cast her in the role of Rose in Meet me in St. Louis. Director Vincente Minnelli was very pleased with her performance, and Miss Bremer’s career seemed to be off to a good start.

In her second film, Lucille co starred opposite Fred Astaire in Yolanda and the Thief. Unfortunately, the film didn’t do well at the box office, and MGM management blamed the failure on Astaire and Bremer. Astaire’s legendary status at the time was barely dented by the film’s failure, but Lucille’s rising star was tarnished. She was given another significant role in Till the Clouds Roll By, and danced with Fred Astaire in two wonderful numbers in Ziegfeld Follies, but after that, she was relegated to minor parts, and for her last three films was loaned out to the small Eagle-Lion production company.

In my opinion, Miss Bremer is another example of the misuse suffered by many talented actors and actresses at MGM. MGM was so overloaded with talent that many who might have otherwise achieved stardom were simply overlooked. Lucille Bremer, disheartened with the studio, did not renew her contract, and in July 1948 she married Abelardo Rodriguez, son of a former president of Mexico. They lived together in La Paz, Mexico until their divorce in 1963, at which time Miss Bremer moved to La Jolla, California and opened a boutique, which she operated until she died of a heart attack in 1996. During those years, she remained close to the friends she had made at MGM.

Miss Bremer was a promising actress. But, it is her dancing that really stands out in her films at MGM. Highlights of her wonderful dancing talent can be seen in such numbers as “I Won’t Dance” with Van Johnson in Till the Clouds Roll By, “Coffee Time” with Fred Astaire in Yolanda and the Thief and “Limehouse Blues” with Fred Astaire in Ziegfeld Follies. By the way, why Yolanda and the Thief did not fare well at the box office is beyond my understanding. I think the film is quite entertaining, featuring not only Miss Bremer and Fred Astaire, but also Frank Morgan, Mildred Natwick and Leon Ames.

For her wonderful dancing, and for a very promising start in dramatic acting, here’s a tip of my hat to Miss Lucille Bremer!