Collection documents the career of Jeni LeGon as a dancer, dance instructor, and actress.
Scope and Contents:
Collection documents LeGon's career as a dancer, dance instructor, and actress. Materials include biographical information, correspondence, photographs, early travel itineraries, schedules, personal calendars, printed advertisements, invitations to dance events, programs, newspaper clippings, magazine articles, and awards. The collection is arranged into four series: Series 1, Biographical Information and Publicity, 1930s; Series 2, Theatre and Motion Picture Film, 1935-1945, undated; Series 3, Dance Instruction and Performances, 1953-2002, undated; and Series 4: Tributes and Awards, 1979-2002.
The collection is arranged into four series:.
Series 1, Biographical Information and Publicity
Series 2, Theatre and Motion Picture Film, 1935-1945
Series 3, Dance Instruction and Performances, 1953-2002, undatred
Series 4, Tributes and Awards, 1979-2002
Biographical / Historical:
Jeni LeGon was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1916. Her long, successful career as an African American dancer and actress began in musical theatre and vaudeville. In the 1930s she traveled across the southern United States performing first with the Whitman Sisters company and then with her half-sister, Willa Mae Lane, as the LeGon and Lane song-and-dance team. By 1935, LeGon was working under contract with Fox Studios, RKO Pictures, and MGM performing with Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, Waters and Al Jolson, and Fred Astaire. Throughout the years she performed on Broadway and in other theaters and clubs including the Apollo, Cafe de Paris, Howard, Paramount, and Lincoln. Beginning in the 1950s she offered dance instruction in Los Angeles, California at the Jeni LeGon Dance Studio and Drama and Dance Playhouse; and in Vancouver, British Columbia, where she taught tap and pointe. She died on December 7, 2012 at the age of ninety-six.
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Smithsonian Jazz Oral History Program Collection (AC0808)
Ernie Smith Jazz Film Collection (AC0491)
Program in African American Culture Collection (AC0408)
Frank Schiffman Apollo Theatre Collection (AC0540)
The collection was donated to the Archives Center by Jeni LeGon in 2002.
Collection is open for research.
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
The collection, which dates from the 1980s and measures 1.42 linear feet, was compiled in the course of preparations for the "Black Women: Achievements Against the Odds" exhibit, which was staged at the Anacostia Museum from February 1976 to December 1976. This collection documents the lives and achievements of African American women in a variety of fields, including law, medicine, education, politics, science and the arts. The collection is comprised of documents, magazine and newspaper clippings, correspondence, photocopies, brochures and pamphlets.
Use of the materials requires an appointment. Please contact the archivist to make an appointment: ACMarchives@si.edu.