Bill Robinson

Birth Name: Luther Robinson

Date of Birth: May 25, 1878

Place of Birth: Richmond, Virginia, U.S.

Date of Death: November 25, 1949

Place of Death: New York City, New York, U.S.

Ethnicity: African-American

Bill Robinson was an American tap dancer, actor, and singer. He was the highest-paid, and best known, African-American entertainer in the first half of the twentieth century. He began in minstrel shows and vaudeville, eventually moving to music, Broadway, radio, television, and Hollywood, dancing with Shirley Temple and appearing in the film Stormy Weather. He was nicknamed “Bojangles.”

Bill was the son of Maria, a church choir director, and Maxwell Robinson, a machinist. He was raised in Richmond’s Jackson Ward neighborhood. He was brought up by his paternal grandmother after his parents died young.

He was married to Elaine Plaines, until his death.

Bill’s paternal grandmother was named Bedelia Robinson. Bedelia was a former slave.


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