Mr. Bojangles: The Biography of Bill Robinson

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9780688072032: Mr. Bojangles: The Biography of Bill Robinson

(Robinson's) life story, as recounted by Haskins and Mitgang with complete cooperation from the dancer's family and friends, stands as a moving study in bravery and a melancholy portrait of thwarted possibilities.--Booklist

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From Publishers Weekly:

An elegantly dressed man who could neither read nor write until he was in his 40s, honorary mayor of Harlem and one of the best-known black entertainers of his time, Bill Robinson (1878-1949) grew up an orphan in Richmond, Va., where he earned a living by shining shoes and shelling peas. Based on Robinson's papers and on interviews with his wives and friends, this dutiful biography tries to explain the character and personality of the popular but enigmatic tap dancer but is more successful at chronicling his career. Here are glimpses of his struggles to overcome the color barrier on his way to stardom in white vaudeville, musicals (especially The Hot Mikado), films and radio, his addiction to gambling and compulsive need to live on borrowed money, his generosity (he performed at more than 3000 benefits) and his love for his native city. Haskins is the author of Queen of the Blues; Mitgang is a black-theater historian. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal:

To most people, Bill Robinson was Shirley Temple's tap-dancing partner in films of the 1930s. Yet he also was one of the country's foremost and best-loved vaudeville headliners. The authors tell of Robinson's life from his early days as an orphan in Richmond, dancing on street corners, through his illustrious career. They deal squarely with Robinson's gambling and three marriages, and succeed splendidly in detailing the hardships faced by a black performer in a white entertainment world, but at times the writing is choppy and too adulatory. Photographs not seen. Recommended. Eric W. Johnson, Univ. of Bridgeport Lib., Ct.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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