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Sunday, June 18, 2017

Vivian Pressman and Johnny Castle

The actress Kelly Bishop was hired for the role of Vivian Pressman in Dirty Dancing because Bishop danced well. The characters Vivian Pressman and Johnny Castle were supposed to dance together in the movie. Watch this video of Bishop starting at 3:20.

The Wikipedia article about Kelly Bishop describes her dancing and acting experience before the filming of Dirty Dancing in 1986:
.... She grew up in Denver, Colorado, where she trained to be a ballet dancer, attending American Ballet Theatre's Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School and the San Jose Ballet School. At eighteen, she headed to New York City and landed her first job dancing in a year-round ballet company at Radio City Music Hall. Bishop continued to dance in Las Vegas, summer stock and on television until she was cast in 1967 in Golden Rainbow, her first Broadway role.

Bishop's big break came when she was cast as the sexy, hard-edged Sheila in the Broadway production of A Chorus Line. Her performance earned her the 1976 Tony Award as "Best Supporting or Featured Actress (Musical)" as well as the 1976 Drama Desk Award for "Outstanding Actress in a Musical".

She also acted in the Broadway productions of Six Degrees of Separation, Neil Simon's Proposals, the Tony Award-winning The Last Night of Ballyhoo and Bus Stop
Bishop's experience indicates that the role of Pressman was supposed to be much more significant and was supposed to portray Pressman as an excellent dancer. However, Pressman -- now a bit part played by the movie's assistant choreographer Miranda Garrison -- is seen dancing for only a moment.

Johnny Castle and Vivian Pressman (Miranda Garrison) dancing
in the Kellerman gazebo in the 1987 "Dirty Dancing"
Bishop's role as Marjorie Houseman turned out to be a good stepping stone in her acting career. In the following year she went on to a big supporting role in the 1978 movie An Unmarried Woman, which was a commercial success and was nominated for three Academy Awards.


In the ABC Dirty Dancing original movie that was broadcast in May 2017, Pressman indeed is a major character who dances rather well. I suppose that the ABC movie's scriptwriters were informed by research and interviews about the 1987 movie's original story. Much of the original story was cut out as the script and film was edited.

In the 2017 ABC movie, Pressman is a former Miss Rhode Island beauty contestant who married a wealthy man. After her divorce, she herself remains quite wealthy. Although she is much older than Johnny Castle, she has been involved in a sexual affair with him rather openly for quite a while. She performs songs and dances in the Kellerman ballroom, whee she also dances with him as the orchestra plays.

Johnny Castle and Vivian Pressman dancing in
the Kellerman ballroom in the 2017 ABC "Dirty Dancing"
Unfortunately, I could not find any YouTube videos showing the Pressman character in the ABC 2017 movie. (I have been writing a long article about the ABC movie, which I will publish soon.)

Johnny Castle and Vivian Pressman dancing in
the Kellerman ballroom in the 2017 AC "Dirty Dancing"
I suppose that the 2017 ABC movie's Pressman is largely similar to the intended Pressman in the 1987 movie. By the time Bishop arrived for filming in 1986, however, the Pressman role had been reduced drastically. Because of Bishop's professional stature, she was compensated with the role of Marjorie Houseman.


In the 1987 movie, Castle's relationship with Pressman is rather secret, but in the 2017 ABC the relationship is quite public.

In the 1987 movie, Castle and Pressman are close in age. Castle was played by the actor Patrick Swayze, who was 35 years old, and Pressman was played by the actress Miranda Garrison, who was 37 years old. However, Pressman was supposed to be played by Bishop, who was 42 years old.

Vivian Pressman (Miranda Garrison) looking rather young and very sexy
in the 1987 "Dirty Dancing"
In the 2017 ABC movie, Castle was played by the actor Colt Prattes, who was 31 years old, and Pressman was played by Katay Sagal, who was 63 years old.

So, in the 1987 movie, the age difference between Castle (35) and Pressman (Garrison, 37) is only two years, whereas in the 2017 ABC movie the difference between Castle (31) and Pressman (63 is 32 years.

Vivian Pressman (Miranda Garrison, age 37) in the 1987 movie and
Vivian Pressman (Katay Sagal, age 63) in the 2017 movie
In the 1987 movie, the relationship is rather secret. In the 2017 ABC movie, the relationship is rather public.

I think that the Castle-Pressman relationship in the 2017 ABC movie is closer to the original story in Bergstein's mind as she was writing her screenplay.


 I speculate also that the original Castle-Pressman relationship was based in the Arthur Murray Dance Studio where Castle had learned to dance and worked in past years. In my previous blog article, titled Working as an Instructor at Arthur Murray, That article reported that rich female clients sometimes provided money for dance-studio owners and instructors to stay in business and open new studios. The Castle character perhaps viewed the Pressman character as a wealthy source of funding for a future dance studio..


I speculate further that Bergstein's originally conceived her third movie Let It Be Me as a sequel to Dirty Dancing. However, by the time Let It Be Me was filmed in 1994 (eight years after Dirty Dancing had been filmed in 1986), the story and main characters were differentiated greatly from those of Dirty Dancing.

In the movie Let It Be Me, male dancer, named Bud, is struggling to make his dance studio into a successful business. A young woman, named Emily, enrolls in dance lessons at the studio in order to practice dancing with her fiance for her upcoming wedding. It turns out that Bud and Emily know each other but have not had any contact with each other since they had ended a sexual relationship 12 years previously, when Emily had been 17 years old. In this regard, Let It Be Me seems to have been conceived as a Dirty Dancing sequel that would have brought Johnny Castle and Baby Houseman back together briefly in the year (1963 + 12 =) 1975.

If so, then Vivian Pressman might have been included as a continuing investor in the dance studio. Such a character is not included in Let It Be Me, but one character is rich, elderly woman who takes dance lessons at the studio and eventually marries one of the dance instructors, who is about her age. The falling-in-love relationship of these two elderly characters is quite charming and heart-warming.

If Let It Be Me had become a real sequel to Dirty Dancing and if Pressman had been included as a character, then Let It Be Me might have ended with Pressman's happy marriage to a dance instructor who was  about her own age.

In general, Let It Be Me provides much insight into the difficulties of managing a dance-studio business. Pressman as a wealthy female investor pressuring the male owner to make the business profitable could have been inserted into the story easily.

If Let It Be Me had become a successful sequel, then Bergstien well might have made a prequel about how Castle and Pressman had met at an Arthur Murray Dance Studio before 1963.

Through the three movies -- the prequel, Dirty Dancing and the sequel Let It Be Me -- the continuity would have been the relationship between Johnny Castle and Vivian Pressman.

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