Herb Jeffries

Jeffries in 2011, photo by kathclick/Bigstock.com

Birth Name: Herbert J. Jeffrey

Date of Birth: September 24, 1913

Place of Birth: Detroit, Michigan, U.S.

Date of Death: May 25, 2014

Place of Death: West Hills, Los Angeles, California, U.S.

*father – African-American, some African-Canadian
*mother – Irish

Herb Jeffries is an American actor, and jazz singer and songwriter. He was known for his baritone voice. He was known as the Bronze Buckaroo, Herbert Jeffrey, and The Sepia Singing Cowboy.

Herb was the son of Mildred Elva (Dell) and Howard Calvin Ball Jeffrey, who were born in Michigan. His father was African-American. His mother was of Irish descent, with some roots in Canada. Herb had five children, including a daughter with his former wife, burlesque star and motion picture actress Tempest Storm.

Herb’s birth name was said to have been Umberto Alexander Valentino or Umberto Alejandro Balentino or Ballentino. This is not accurate.

Herb was said to be of Sicilian, Ethiopian, French, Italian, and Moorish ancestry. This is also not accurate.

Herb’s paternal grandfather was named Fred Ball. Fred was were born in Ohio or Michigan.

Herb’s paternal grandmother was named Carrie Jeffrey (the daughter of Calvin Jeffrey and Mary). Carrie was born in Ohio or Michigan. Mary was from Canada.

Herb’s maternal grandfather was George Herbert Dell (the son of Robert Dell and Margaret McGinty). George was born in Adelaide, Ontario, Canada.

Herb’s maternal grandmother was named Sarah Annie McDonald. Sarah was born in Michigan.

Sources: Herb Jeffries on the 1920 U.S. Census – https://www.familysearch.org
Herb Jeffries on the 1930 U.S. Census – https://www.familysearch.org

Obituary of Herb Jeffries – http://www.latimes.com

Marriage record of Herb’s parents – https://www.familysearch.org

Herb’s paternal grandmother, Carrie Jeffrey, on the 1870 U.S. Census – https://www.familysearch.org

4 Responses

  1. bablah says:

    So, uh, his father Howard Calvin Ball Jeffrey was African-American


    Even after he died, his kids were listed as Negro. His wife is white on both censi. Only her oldest daughter Ferne is listed as white on both censi, and she’s the daughter of C. Weisman.
    Howard’s parents were Fred Ball and Carrie Jeffrey.

    Herb’s mother was Mildred Elva Dell, daughter of George Herbert Dell and Sarah Annie McDonald. George was born in Adelaide, Ontario, Canada to Robert Dell and Margaret McGinty.

  2. andrew says:

    his stepfather was ethiopian, he was actually full white but he even claimed Moorish to be more “exotic”

  3. fuzzybear44 says:

    Just had to add the ‘Bronze Buckaroo’ to the list. May he rest in peace

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