Bill "Bojangles" Robinson
The grandson of a slave, as a child Bill Robinson first performed on street corners for nickels and dimes. Developing into one of the world's foremost tap-dancers, he became a vaudeville star and later played such big theaters as the Roxy and the Palace; he also appeared in a number of major stage musicals. In the early '30s he broke into movies, usually playing the stereotypical happy-go-lucky blacks that populated Hollywood films. He became famous and popular for the four films in which he co-starred with Shirley Temple (1935-38). Well-liked by the black community, he was called "the Honorary Mayor of Harlem." He also coined the word "copacetic" and it soon came into general use. He was the subject of the hit Sammy Davis Jr. song "Mr. Bojangles." In 1989, Congress declared his birthday to be National Tap-Dancing Day.