Bill "Bojangles" Robinson: Tap

  • Birth

    Bill Robinson was born in Richmond Virginia as Luther Robinson.
  • Joined a traveling company

    Joined a traveling company
    Bill Robinson joined a traveling company in 1891. At the time he was only 12 years old.
  • Began dancing with George W. Cooper

    Began dancing with George W. Cooper
    Over the course of twelve years, Bill Robinson danced as part of a pair with George W. Cooper. They danced in vaudeville shows on the Keith and Orpheum circuits. However, the pair didn’t wear blackface makeup, as was common at the time. The pair split up when Robinson faced assault charges in 1915.
  • Met Marty Forkins

    Met Marty Forkins
    Bill Robinson met Marty Forkins in 1908. Forkins went on to be Robinson's manager and Forkins urged Robinson to pursue his own solo career.
  • Launched solo career

    Launched solo career
    Bill Robinson began his solo career as a vaudeville dancer starting after his split from dancing with George W. Cooper. His vaudeville solo career lasted until 1927.
  • Stair Dance

    Stair Dance
    Bill Robinson introduced his fomous stair dance to the world. This dance stands out due to its showmanship and sound since each step is designed to give a defferent pitch when danced upon. This dance is also notable because it was performed in Robinson's own style of a delicate, light swinging-style tapping with a focus on elegant footwork up on the balls of the feet, instead of the previously common flat footed shuffling style of tap.
  • Starred in Blackbirds of 1928

    Starred in Blackbirds of 1928
    Bill Robinson starred on Broadway in the musical revue Blackbirds of 1928. This marked his breakthrough into the theater and movie industry.
  • First film role

    First film role
    Bill Robinson's first role in a movie was in the picture Dixiana, which was released in 1930.
  • First film with Shirley Temple

    First film with Shirley Temple
    The Little Colonel was the first film that Bill Robinson had a role opposite of Shirley Temple. Other films that Robinson did with Shirley Temple include Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Just Around the Corner, and The Littlest Rebel.
  • Death

    Bill Robinson died on November 25, 1949 at the age of 71 in New York City. Robinson was poor at the time of his death due to his habits of giving money to charities. His funeral was arranged by Ed Sullivan and attended by thousands of people. He was buried in Cemetery of the Evergreens in Brooklyn, New York.