In 1928, after beginning her career as a chorus girl, Joan Crawford rocketed to fame in Our Dancing Daughters, performing the Charleston on a tabletop. Born Lucille LeSueur, she became one of Hollywood’s greatest stars, initially as a "glamour girl" but later in more serious roles. An MGM colleague once said, "Joan Crawford became a star because Joan Crawford decided to become a star." Her movies include Grand Hotel, Letty Lynton, Dancing Lady, and The Women; her high point came in 1945, when she received a Best Actress Academy Award for her hard-boiled performance as Mildred Pierce. In 1962, she won new audiences playing the invalid victim of a vengeful sister (Bette Davis) in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? The American Film Institute has voted Joan Crawford one of the top ten female stars in American movie history.
Tap-dancing virtuoso Bill "Bojangles" Robinson began earning nickels and dimes for his street- corner routines and beer-garden performances when he was a child, and he was barely in his teens when he joined the chorus of the touring minstrel extravaganza The South Before the War. But it was on the vaudeville circuit and as a popular nightclub entertainer that he earned his reputation as the "World's Greatest Tap Dancer." Combining superb showmanship with a winning personality, Robinson was a hit with audiences for more than half a century. In addition to appearances on Broadway in the all-black revue Blackbirds of 1928 and The Hot Mikado (1939), Robinson earned lasting fame from his performances in movies such as the Little Colonel (1935), in which his signature "stair dance" tap routine with Shirley Temple provided the film's most memorable moment.
Born Richmond, Virginia
In the 1920s Bill “Bojangles” Robinson was a vaudeville headliner billed as “The World’s Greatest Tap Dancer.” But today he is remembered most for teaching Shirley Temple how to tap in The Little Colonel, The Littlest Rebel, Just Around the Corner, and Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. The “stair dance” from The Little Colonel was perhaps their most famous dance together, with Robinson dancing the steps for Temple first so she could imitate him.
His style of tap was “up on its toes”—dancing crossover steps on the balls of his feet—rather than the earlier flat-footed shuffling style. He said that his style influenced such important dancers in his day as the Nicholas Brothers, Fred Astaire, and Eleanor Powell.
One biographer said, “Robinson became a modern John Henry, who instead of driving steel, laid down iron taps.”
James Wong Howe was one of Hollywood’s preeminent cinematographers; his filmography spans from 1923 to 1975. He began at the Lasky studios during the silent era, working as an assistant on Cecil B. DeMille’s early features. By the time "talkies" arrived, Howe was in demand, having established his reputation for, as he once said, making "old stars young, plump stars thin, ordinary faces beautiful." Howe was known for his technical innovations, such as using black-velvet camera hoods "to make blue eyes show up better on the orthochromatic film stock in use until the early 1920s." Among his noted films were The Thin Man (1934), The Prisoner of Zenda (1937), Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942), and The Old Man and the Sea (1958). Nominated for ten Academy Awards, Howe won two Oscars, for The Rose Tattoo (1956) and Hud (1963).