Bill "Bojangles" Robinson - Rotten Tomatoes

Bill "Bojangles" Robinson

Highest Rated:   88% The Littlest Rebel (1935)
Lowest Rated:   88% The Littlest Rebel (1935)
Birthday:   Not Available
Birthplace:   Not Available
Hailed as the greatest tap dancer who ever lived (an accolade bestowed upon him by such notable terpsichoreans as James Cagney and Fred Astaire), Bill Robinson began his career by dancing on the streets for pennies at age ten. After supporting himself as a waiter and stableboy, he turned professional in 1908, adopting the nickname of "Bojangles" for reasons which he kept to himself for the rest of his life. He rose to stardom on Broadway in several of the Blackbird revues, and later essayed the title in Michael Todd's production The Swing Mikado. In 1930 he made his film debut as a specialty dancer in the Technicolor finale of RKO Radio's Dixiana. His best-remembered film work included his four co-starring stints with Shirley Temple, his appearance opposite Will Rogers in In Old Kentucky (1935, in which Rogers did a startlingly accurate Bojangles imitation), and a rare romantic lead in the all-black Stormy Weather (1943). Robinson's most famous routine was his backwards "stair tap," which he performed with Temple in The Little Colonel (1935) and which was affectionately recreated by Eleanor Powell in Honolulu (1939); reportedly, Bojangles could run 75 yards backwards in eight and a half seconds, a feat that, alas, was never recorded on film. Reportedly illiterate, Robinson nonetheless coined the word "copacetic," which is still used to describe a serendipitous combination of talent and teamwork. Though he earned up to 6000 dollars per week in Hollywood, he was notoriously improvident; at the time of his death in 1949, his show business friends were arranging a benefit for him -- just as he'd done so often for others less fortunate than himself. Tributes to Bill Bojangles Robinson have taken many forms, notably Fred Astaire's "Bojangles of Harlem" number in Swing Time (1936) and Jerry Jeff Walker's song hit "Mister Bojangles;" the highest honor, however, came from the U.S. Congress, which in 1989 designated Robinson's birthday (May 25th) as National Tap Dancing Day.

Highest Rated Movies



No Score Yet Big Time Swing
  • Actor
No Score Yet Swing Era: Count Basie
  • Actor
No Score Yet Baby Laurence: Jazz Hoofer
  • Actor
No Score Yet At the Jazz Band Ball: Early Hot Jazz, Song and Dance
  • Actor
No Score Yet Stormy Weather
  • Bill Williamson
No Score Yet Just Around the Corner
  • Corporal Jones
No Score Yet Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm
  • Aloysius
88% The Littlest Rebel
  • Uncle Billy
No Score Yet The Big Broadcast of 1936
  • Actor
No Score Yet The Little Colonel
  • Walker the butler
No Score Yet Great Jazz Bands of the 30's
  • Actor
No Score Yet Dixiana
  • Specialty Dancer

Quotes from Bill "Bojangles" Robinson's Characters

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