Bill “Bojangles” Robinson was an African American tap dancer and actor who is best known for his contributions to the art of tap dancing. He was born in Richmond, Virginia, and began dancing professionally at the age of five. His style of tap dancing was known for its elegance, precision, and speed.
Robinson was one of the first dancers to incorporate complex footwork into his performances, and he often performed with his hands in his pockets to showcase his footwork. He rose to prominence in the early 20th century and became one of the most famous tap dancers of his time, in part due to performances in movies like the one shown in this clip, 1935’s The Little Colonel.
Robinson’s partner in this scene is none other than Shirley Temple, who was also one of the most famous actresses in the 1930s. She was known for her curly hair, cherubic smile, and upbeat personality, and was often cast in roles that required her to sing and dance.
Sadly, Robinson died in 1949 and Shirley died in 2014. But luckily for us, their incredible dancing is preserved in this film–the only one that has “The King of Tap” performing with the “Little Princess of Hollywood.”