Here's a little history on a few of the best tap dancers of all time. Bill 'Bojangles' Robinson was born in 1878. He started his career as a dancer at the age of six and continued to dance until he was in his late 60's. He never actually danced for a white audience until he was fifty years old. He acted in several movies with top names like Shirley Temple and Will Rogers. He was responsible for getting tap 'up on its toes'. Early tap was a flat-footed dance style.
John 'Bubbles' Sublett was the greatest improvising dancer of all time. He created a real innovative style of tap dance known as the 'rhythm tap'. He was 6-years old when he joined up with Ford Lee 'Buck' Washington. They worked together as 'Buck and Bubbles' until Buck past away in 1955. The team was featured in more than twelve Hollywood productions. After Buck died, he toured with Bob Hope in Vietnam entertaining the troops.
Gene Kelly was born in 1912 in Pittsburgh, PA. He taught dancing in their family-owned studio for six years before moving to New York. He landed his first big break when he was cast in Rodgers and Hart musical 'Pal Joey.' He won an honorary Oscar in 1952 for 'his versatility as an actor, singer, director, dancer and specifically for his brilliant achievements in the art of choreography on film'.
Fred Astaire born in 1899 began his career dancing with his sister Adele when he was just 7-years old. His movie career began in 1932 working with Judy Garland, Ginger Rogers, Eleanor Powell and Cyd Charisse. The finest songwriters of his time admired him for his singing abilities even though he never took lessons. He was a virtuoso dancer, able to convey light-hearted adventure or deep emotion.
Gregory Hines was born in 1946, he began dancing as part of a family act with his father and brother. He went on to be an acclaimed actor. He performed in numerous Broadway musicals. In 1992, he won a Tony Award for 'Jelly's Last Jam.' His list of accomplishments is remarkable, but he just always considered himself a 'tap dancer.'
Ann Miller born in 1923 started dancing to exercise her legs to help her rickets. When she was 13-years old, Lucille Ball discovered her in San Francisco's 'Black Cat Club'. She ended up landing a contract with RKO and becoming famous for her tap dancing abilities. She starred with James Stewart and Jean Arthur in 'You Can't Take It With You' which won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1938.
Eleanor Powell was born in 1912, she was known for her exuberant tap dancing. She was discovered at the age of eleven and performed with the Vaudeville Kiddie revue. In 1935, she moved to Hollywood and signed with MGM. Her first starring role was 'Broadway Melody of 1936', she delighted audiences with her endless energy, enthusiasm and stunning dancing. She and Fred Astaire danced to Cole Porter's 'Begin The Beguine' in 'Broadway Melody of 1940', which is considered by many to be one of the best tap excerpts in film history. I enjoyed writing this article because I learned a lot about the best tap dancers of all time.
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