Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Trailer for Animated Feature Film Inspired by True Story of Afro-Arab Slave Who Became "Voice of Islam" Trailer for Animated Feature Film Inspired by True Story of Afro-Arab Slave Who Became "Voice of Islam" Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Aldis Hodge to Star in Scripted TV Series Based on the Underground Railroad Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Aldis Hodge to Star in Scripted TV Series Based on the Underground Railroad Mo'Nique Said She Was Paid $50,000 for 'Precious' + Responds to Lee Daniels "Play the Game" Advice (Video) Mo'Nique Said She Was Paid $50,000 for 'Precious' + Responds to Lee Daniels "Play the Game" Advice (Video) 'Cooley High' Writer and Cast Reflect on the Film 40 Years Later 'Cooley High' Writer and Cast Reflect on the Film 40 Years Later Attn. Actors: African American & Latino Men & Women Sought for Major Roles in Baz Luhrmann's Netflix Drama Series Attn. Actors: African American & Latino Men & Women Sought for Major Roles in Baz Luhrmann's Netflix Drama Series So What’s Byron Allen's $20 Billion Lawsuit Against Comcast, Time Warner, Al Sharpton & the NAACP all About? So What’s Byron Allen's $20 Billion Lawsuit Against Comcast, Time Warner, Al Sharpton & the NAACP all About? A New Edition Biopic Might Be Coming to a Theater Near You If This Fan-Made Trailer Goes Viral A New Edition Biopic Might Be Coming to a Theater Near You If This Fan-Made Trailer Goes Viral HBO Seeks Diverse, Emerging Writers for HBOAccess Writing Fellowship HBO Seeks Diverse, Emerging Writers for HBOAccess Writing Fellowship MSNBC is Changing Its Tune and Rev Al Is Getting Bumped MSNBC is Changing Its Tune and Rev Al Is Getting Bumped Films & TV Series That Are Coming to (and Leaving) Netflix's Streaming Library Next Month (March) Films & TV Series That Are Coming to (and Leaving) Netflix's Streaming Library Next Month (March) Check Out These Photos of Mo'Nique, Queen Latifah, Khandi Alexander & Michael K. WIlliams From HBO's Bessie Smith Bio + Premiere Date Set Check Out These Photos of Mo'Nique, Queen Latifah, Khandi Alexander & Michael K. WIlliams From HBO's Bessie Smith Bio + Premiere Date Set Oscars Telecast Ratings at 6-Year Low. So Was Nielsen Right About Correlation Between Black Nominees & Viewers? Oscars Telecast Ratings at 6-Year Low. So Was Nielsen Right About Correlation Between Black Nominees & Viewers? Here's the Story That the Denzel Washington/Antoine Fuqua 'Magnificent Seven' Remake Will Tell Here's the Story That the Denzel Washington/Antoine Fuqua 'Magnificent Seven' Remake Will Tell Ava DuVernay Won Ava DuVernay Won Watch Footage From Marlon Wayans' Richard Pryor Audition Tape Watch Footage From Marlon Wayans' Richard Pryor Audition Tape Mike Tyson Went to Algeria to Make the Country's "First Martial Arts Film"... Here's a First Look at the Results Mike Tyson Went to Algeria to Make the Country's "First Martial Arts Film"... Here's a First Look at the Results Now You Can Watch All 10 Oscar Nominated Short Films (Live Action & Animation) Online Now You Can Watch All 10 Oscar Nominated Short Films (Live Action & Animation) Online Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie... Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie...

RIP Actress, Pioneering Tap Dancer Jeni LeGon

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act December 17, 2012 at 11:10AM

She actually passed on December 7, but I only just got word of it over the weekend.
3
Jeni LeGon

She actually passed on December 7, but I only just got word of it over the weekend.

Jeni LeGon (August 14, 1916 – December 7, 2012) was one of the first African American women in tap dance to develop a career as a soloist.

She also had a lengthy onscreen (in film and TV), one that spanned over 65 years, starting in 1936 appearing as a cabaret dancer in Dishonour Bright, to 2001's Ernest Dickerson-directed horror movie, Bones

She also did a 2-season stint on The Amos 'n Andy Show, from 1951 to 1953, appearing in 6 episodes in total.

But she'll liekly be best remembered for her musical and dance talents. From the American Tap Dance Foundation:

Jeni LeGon
Not a high-heeled dancer in pretty skirts, she was a low-heeled dancer performing toe-stand in pants, and her rigorous combination of flash, acrobatics, and rhythm dancing proved you didn’t have to be a man to dance like a hoofer. Born in 1916 and raised near the south side of Chicago, her musical talents were developed on the street in neighborhood bands and musical groups. At the age of thirteen, buoyed by her brother who got a job touring as a singer and exhibition ballroom dancer, she landed her first job in musical theatre, dancing as a soubrette in pants, not pretty skirts. By the age of sixteen, she was dancing in a chorus line backed by Count Basie Orchestra, and soon after touring as a chorus line dancer with Whitman Sisters, the highest paid act on the TOBA circuit. This all black, woman-managed company was successful in booking themselves continually in leading southern houses, and had the reputation for giving hundreds of dancers their first performing break. The Whitman Sisters’ chorus line, LeGon remembers, “they had all the colors that our race is known for. All the pretty shading from the darkest, to the palest of the pale. Each one of us was a distinct-looking kid. It was a rainbow of beautiful girls.” It was while working in Los Angeles, where she was stopping the show for her flips, double spins, knee drips, toe stands, that LeGon got a part in the 1935 MGM musical, Hooray for Love, as dance partner to Bill Robinson, who she says was a patient teacher and a perfectionist. It was while working on that movie that she met Fats Waller, whom she continued to work for much of her career. In 1936, LeGon performed in the London production of C.B. Cochran’s At Home Abroad. She was hailed as one of the brightest spirits, the new Florence Mills, and the “sepia Cinderella girl who set London agog with her clever dancing.” In New York, she was one of the few women ever to be invited back to the Hoofer’s Club. LeGon played leading roles in a number of black films, where she claims, “sometimes I even got to be myself,” not a maid or any number of stereotypical roles. She toured widely with US Army shows, and she did club and theater performances nationally and internationally.

Apparently, she was the subject of a 1999 documentary by Grant Greshuck, titled Living in a Great Big Way, which was named after one of her famous numbers with Bill "Bojangles" Robinson. The film is narrated by Fayard Nicholas; however, it's not easily accessible; I couldn't readily find it online anywhere, for sale or for rent. 

The 48-minute film is said to be a profile of Jeni LeGon, recounting her Chicago childhood, her early love for dancing which led to being chosen as solo performer for the Count Basie Chorus Line, which in turn landed her a role with Bill "Bojangles" Robinson in the film Hurray for Love, followed by over a dozen other films, all of which showcased her many talents. In the film, she reminisces about her show business career and honestly discusses how, confronted by the 'color barrier' of a segregated Hollywood, she followed the example of Josephine Baker and toured on the European cabaret circuit.

She went on to become a dance teacher in her later life.

RIP Jeni LeGon. 

This article is related to: Jeni LeGon


Shadow & ActNewsletter