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Encyclopedia > Bill "Bojangles" Robinson

Bill "Bojangles" Robinson ( May 25 is the 145th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (146th in leap years). There are 220 days remaining. Events 1000-1899 1085 - Alfonso VI of Castile takes Toledo, Spain back from the Moors. 1420 - Henry the Navigator is appointed governor of the Order of Christ. 1521... May 25, Events January - April January – Cleopatras Needle arrives in London January 9 - Humbert I becomes King of Italy January 23 – Disraeli orders British fleet to Dardanelles January 28 - The Yale News becomes the first daily, college newspaper in the United States. January 31 - Turkey agrees to armistice at... 1878 November 25 is the 329th (in leap years the 330th) day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 36 days remaining. Events 1000-1899 1034 - Malcolm II of Scotland died. Duncan, the son of his second daughter, instead of Macbeth, the son of his eldest daughter, inherited the... November 25, 1949 is a common year starting on Saturday. Events January January 4 - RMS Caronia of the Cunard Line departs Southampton for New York on her maiden voyage January 4 - February 22 - Series of winter storms in Nebraska, Wyoming, South Dakota, Utah, Colorado and Nevada - winds of up to 72 mph... 1949) was a pioneer and pre-eminent African Americans, also known as Afro-Americans or Black Americans, are an ethnic group in the United States of America whose ancestors, usually in predominant part, were indigenous to Sub-Saharan Africa. Many African Americans also have European and/or Native American ancestors. Alternative terms Terms for African Americans used... African-American Tap dance was born in the United States during the 19th century, and today is popular all around the world. The name comes from the tapping sound made when the small metal plates on the dancers shoes touch a hard floor. This lively, rhythmic tapping makes the performer not... tap dance performer.

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Bill "Bojangles" Robinson

Childhood and early career

Born Luther Robinson in Richmond is the capital of Virginia, a state (officially the Commonwealth of Virginia) of the United States of America. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 197,790. Like all Virginia municipalities incorporated as cities, it is an independent city, not part of any county... Richmond, Virginia, his parents died when he was still an infant and he was raised by his grandmother. A child prodigy in dance, he was only a boy of nine when he ran away to Aerial photo (looking NW) of the Washington Monument and the White House in Washington, DC. Washington, D.C., officially the District of Columbia (also known as D.C.; Washington; the Nations Capital; the District; and, historically, the Federal City) is the capital city and administrative district of the United... Washington D.C. where he survived as a street performer. His extraordinary dancing skills eventually brought work in the city's clubs and taverns. Given the nickname "Bojangles," as a young adult he went on to perform at nightclubs and musical comedy venues in This is an article about New York City; see also NYC, New York, and New York, New York. Midtown Manhattan, looking north from the Empire State Building, 2005. New York City (officially named the City of New York) is the most populous city in the United States and is at... New York City before going on to Chicagos skyline at day Chicago is the third largest city in the United States, after New York City and Los Angeles, with an official population of 2,896,016, as of the 2000 US Census. It is the fourth largest city in North America and the seventh largest in... Chicago.

Robinson's Style

In Robinson's day, tap dancing was primarily a flat footed dance referred to as the "buck and wing" style. Robinson transformed the art by doing his dancing on the balls of the feet, becoming best known for his famous "stair dance." His dancing skills made him a star amongst the Black is a color with several subtle differences in meaning. Color or light Black can be defined as the visual impression experienced in directions from which no visible light reaches the eye. (This makes a contrast with whiteness, the impression of any combination of colors of light that equally stimulates... black population and a headlining favorite at the Hoofer's Club in This article is about the Harlem neighborhood in New York City. For other, less well-known places named Harlem, see Harlem (disambiguation). Harlem is a neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City, long known as a major African American cultural and business center. Although the name is sometimes reckoned as... Harlem.

Racism and Robinson's Rise to Fame

However, overcoming even a part of the An African-American drinks out of a water fountain marked for colored in 1939 at a street car terminal in Oklahoma City. Racism is the belief that race is the primary determinant of human capacities, that a certain race is inherently superior or inferior to others, and/or that individuals... racism that existed took a long time. At a point in history when Segregation means separation. Its specific meaning varies with the context. Human rights: Racial segregation is the separation of humans according to race. Sex segregation is the separation of humans according to gender. Biology: The separation of homologous chromosomes during mitosis and meiosis. Known as Mendels theory of Segregation. See... segregation was the accepted norm in the The United States of America — also referred to as the United States, the U.S.A., the U.S., America¹, the States, or (archaically) Columbia — is a federal republic of 50 states located primarily in central North America (with the exception of two states: Alaska and Hawaii... United States, Robinson initially was made to perform for white audiences in Blackface is a style of theatrical makeup that originated in the United States, used to affect the countenance of an iconic, racist, American archetype, that of the darky or coon. The term blackface also refers to a genre of musical and comedic theatrical presentation in which blackface makeup is worn... blackface. However, his popularity led to a tour of Canada is an independent sovereign state in northern North America, the northern-most country in the world, and the second largest in total area. Bordering the United States, its territorial claims extend north into the Arctic Ocean as far as the North Pole. Canada is a federation of ten provinces... Canada where he could appear without having to hide behind make-up. Nevertheless, at home, Robinson performed almost exclusively for black audiences until a This article is about the street in New York City. For other articles with the name Broadway, see: Broadway (disambiguation). A view of Broadway in 1909 Broadway, as the name implies, is a large, wide avenue in New York City, New York, and is one of the oldest main north... Broadway producer in need of something different to help arrest the decline in popularity of Vaudeville is a style of theater, also known as variety, which flourished in North America from the 1880s through the 1920s. Its popularity rose in step with the rise of industry and the growth of North American cities during this period, and declined with the introduction of sound films and... vaudeville acts hired him for a revue called "Blackbirds of 1928." The all-white audiences loved the show and the then 50-year-old Robinson soon became much in demand, said to be the highest paid black performer of the time. Acclaimed for his innovative and complex dance style, he personified the happy-go-lucky image of a dapper gentleman, often appearing on stage in tails and top hat while swinging a cane.

Film Career

Whether he was performing in a small town theater or a grand Broadway playhouse, Robinson gave his best and his national popularity became such that he was invited by studio executive Darryl Francis Zanuck (September 5, 1902 - December 22, 1979) was one of the major figures in the Hollywood studio system and the longest survivor of that system. He was also a producer, writer, actor and director. Darryl Francis was born in Wahoo, Nebraska, the son of a hotelier. He was... Darryl F. Zanuck to come to For other uses, see Hollywood (disambiguation) Greetings from Hollywood Hollywood is a district of the City of Los Angeles, California, U.S.A., that runs from about Vermont Avenue on the east to just beyond Laurel Canyon Boulevard above Sunset and Crescent Heights Boulevards on the west; the north to... Hollywood to appear in motion pictures, albeit limited to stereotypical roles. In all, he appeared in more than a dozen films but is best remembered for a number of Events and trends Technology Jet engine invented Science Nuclear fission discovered by Otto Hahn, Lise Meitner and Fritz Strassmann Pluto, the ninth planet from the Sun, is discovered by Clyde Tombaugh British biologist Arthur Tansley coins term ecosystem War, peace and politics Socialists proclaim The death of Capitalism Rise to... 1930s film performances with the child star Shirley Temple Black was a former child actress and United States diplomat. Shirley Jane Temple (born April 23, 1928 in Santa Monica, California), later known as Shirley Temple Black, is an American film actress and diplomat who is considered by many to be the most famous child actress in history... Shirley Temple including director Allan Dwan (April 3, 1885 – December 21, 1981) was a Canadian born pioneering motion picture director, producer and screenwriter. Born Joseph Aloysius Dwan in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, his family moved to the United States when he was eleven years of age. At university, he trained as an engineer and... Allan Dwan's very successful 1938 production of Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.

Partial filmography:

  • Harlem Is Heaven (1932)
  • The Little Colonel (1935)
  • The Littlest Rebel (1935)
  • In Old Kentucky (1935)
  • Hooray For Love (1935)
  • One Mile From Heaven (1937)
  • Cotton Club Revue (1938)
  • Stormy Weather is a 1933 song written by Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler. Ethel Waters first sang it at The Cotton Club night club in Harlem. It became a hit record and inspired the following movie. Stormy Weather is a 1943 musical film which tells in flashback the story of... Stormy Weather (1943)

Other Notable Performances

In 1939 Robinson returned to the New York stage to take on the lead role in "The Hot Mikado", a jazz version of the Playwright/lyricist William S. Gilbert (1836-1911) and composer Arthur S. Sullivan (1842-1900) defined operetta in Victorian England with a series of their internationally successful and timeless works. Their first major hit was HMS Pinafore (1878), satirizing the Royal Navy and the British obsession with social status. The Pirates... Gilbert and Sullivan operetta. The much-loved performer brought his show great publicity when in his sixties, he danced his way backwards down This article is about the street in New York City. For other articles with the name Broadway, see: Broadway (disambiguation). A view of Broadway in 1909 Broadway, as the name implies, is a large, wide avenue in New York City, New York, and is one of the oldest main north... Broadway from Columbus Circle to 44th Street. Robinson had spoken out against being stereotyped by Hollywood and in 1942 he went back there to star opposite Lena Horne photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1941 Lena Calhoun Horne (born June 30, 1917) is an American popular singer. While she has recorded and performed extensively with jazz musicians (notably Artie Shaw and Teddy Wilson), she is usually not considered a jazz singer because she does not improvise. She... Lena Horne and Cab Calloway, photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1933 Cab Calloway (December 25, 1907–November 18, 1994), born Cabell Calloway III, was a famous jazz singer and bandleader. Calloway was a master of energetic scat singing and led one of the United States most popular African American big bands from... Cab Calloway in the quality film musical, Stormy Weather is a 1933 song written by Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler. Ethel Waters first sang it at The Cotton Club night club in Harlem. It became a hit record and inspired the following movie. Stormy Weather is a 1943 musical film which tells in flashback the story of... Stormy Weather.


Robinson was dogged by lifelong personal demons, enhanced by having to endure the indignities of racism that, despite his great success, still limited his opportunities. A notorious gambler and a high liver but with a big heart, he was a soft touch for anyone down on their luck or with a good story. During his lifetime Robinson spent a fortune but his generosity was not totally wasted and his haunting memories of surviving on the streets as a child never left him. In 1933, while in his hometown of Richmond, Virginia, he saw two children risk speeding traffic to cross a street because there was no stoplight at the intersection. Robinson went to the city and provided the money to have a safety traffic light installed. In 1973, a statue of "Bojangles" was erected in a small park at the intersection.


In 1949 Bill "Bojangles" Robinson died broke in New York City at the age of 71 from heart disease. Television host, Ed Sullivan (September 28, 1902 - October 13, 1974) was an American entertainment writer and television host, best known as the emcee of a popular TV variety show that was at its height of popularity in the 1950s and early 1960s. Ed Sullivan Sullivan was originally a newspaper sportswriter and theater... Ed Sullivan is said to have personally paid for the funeral out of respect for the man who was already a legend. More than half a million people lined the streets when Robinson's funeral procession made its way through Harlem and down Broadway to Times Square Times Square, named after the one-time headquarters of The New York Times, is a neighborhood in the borough of Manhattan, New York City, which centers on 42nd Street and Broadway. It consists of the blocks between Sixth and Ninth Avenue from east to west and 39th and... Times Square on its way to his interment in the The Cemetery of the Evergreens, is a non-denominational cemetery in Brooklyn, New York. It was incorporated in 1849. For a time it was the busiest cemetery in New York City: in 1929 there were 4,673 interments. Notable burials John Bunny (1863-1915), actor Anthony Comstock (1844-1915), censor... Cemetery of the Evergreens in For other meanings, see Brooklyn (disambiguation). The Brooklyn Bridge in 1890, seven years after its opening Kings County in New York State Brooklyn is the most populous of the five boroughs of New York City. With about 2.5 million inhabitants, it would be the fourth largest city in the... Brooklyn.

Mr. Bojangles Memorialized

Bill Robinson's character was memorialized in Jerry Jeff Walker (March 16, 1942) is a country music singer. Born Ronald Clyde Crosby in Oneonta, New York. Early folk music days in Greenwich Village in the mid 1960s, and then mostly associated with the country-rock Texas outlaw scene around Austin Texas in the 1970s that included... Jerry Jeff Walker's 1968 folk song "Mr. Bojangles" that was later recorded by the The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band is an American country-folk-rock band that has existed in various forms since 1966. The groups membership has had at least a dozen iterations over the years, including five years when the band performed and recorded as The Dirt Band. The bands... Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Portrait photograph of Bob Dylan taken by Daniel Kramer Bob Dylan (born Robert Allen Zimmerman May 24, 1941, Duluth, Minnesota, USA) is widely regarded as one of Americas greatest popular songwriters. Stephen Foster, Irving Berlin, Woody Guthrie, and Hank Williams are among the few songwriters similarly revered for their... Bob Dylan, David Bromberg, Essential Neil Diamond album cover Neil Diamond (born Neil Leslie Diamond on January 24, 1941) is a singer/songwriter who has had a number of hits in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, and who has maintained a very loyal following with popular live performances to this day. Diamond was born... Neil Diamond, Sammy Davis, Jr. photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1956 Sammy Davis, Jr. (December 8, 1925–May 16, 1990) was an American all-around entertainer. He danced, sang, played vibraphone, trumpet, and drums, did impressions, and acted. Biography He was born in Harlem, New York City to Elvera Sanchez, a... Sammy Davis, Jr, and Album cover for Williams 2004 Greatest Hits Robert Peter Williams (born February 13, 1974 in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire) is a British pop singer. Originally a member of boy band Take That, he split from the group in 1995 and launched a solo career, following a highly publicized battle... Robbie Williams. In 1988, Mr. Bojangles: the biography of Bill Robinson, written by Jim Haskins and N.R. Mitgang, was published. A made for television film titled Bojangles was released in 2001. The film earned the The NAACP Image Award winners for Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special: Categories: NAACP Image Awards ... NAACP Best actor Award for Gregory Oliver Hines (February 14, 1946 - August 9, 2003) was an American actor and dancer, regarded by many as the greatest tap dancer of his generation, and one who transcended the stage. Born in New York, New York, Hines learned tap dancing as a toddler from his older brother Maurice... Gregory Hines' performance as Bill Robinson.



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