Fri Mar 04, 2016 10:27 pm
Harold Nicholas Biography
Harold Nicholas was a popular African-American dancer who gained fame during the Harlem Renaissance. He and brother Fayard broke through the color barrier to become one of the most popular show business acts of the 1930s and '40s.
Famed African-American tap dancer Harold Nicholas was born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, in 1921. Harold and his brother, Fayard, began performing together in New York City in the early 1930s, and became known for their intricate, high-flying song-and-dance routine. Today, the Nicholas Brothers are regarded as one of the most popular show business acts of the 1930s and '40s.
The Nicholas Brothers
Harold Lloyd Nicholas—named after acrobatic silent film star Harold Lloyd—was born on March 21 or 27, 1921, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, to college-educated, musician parents. Harold and his brother, Fayard, began performing together as children, developing a routine that included tap and "flash dance." Performing as the Nicholas Brothers, they first appeared at Harlem's famous Cotton Club in the early 1930s, attracting notice for their intricate, high-flying song-and-dance routine.
In 1934, Harold and Fayard headed to Hollywood, California, to appear in the films Kid Millions (1934), The Big Broadcast (1936) and Black Network. They made their Broadway debut in 1936 in a version of the Ziegfeld Follies, alongside the likes of Bob Hope and Ethel Merman. While performing in Manchester, England, as part of the cast of the touring show Blackbirds, in 1936, the Nicholas Brothers were introduced to and developed an appreciation for a number of highly regarded European ballet companies.
By the start of the 1940s, the Nicholas Brothers were international celebrities, widely known as stars of the jazz scene during the Harlem Renaissance. The two men starred in several hit films, including Stormy Weather (1943) with Cab Calloway and Lena Horne, and acquired a reputation as the finest dance team in America. They also popularized tap dancing—which derived from Irish jigs and earlier forms of West African dance—around the world.
The brothers continued to perform together for five more decades. In 1994, they were presented with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The act came to an end when Harold died of heart failure, on July 3, 2000, in New York City. His brother and lifelong dancing partner, Fayard Nicholas, passed away six years later, on January 24, 2006.
Since their heyday, the Nicholas Brothers have inspired countless tap dancers who followed them, including Savion Glover and Gregory Hines.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Nicholas Brothers were a team of dancing brothers, Fayard (1914–2006) and Harold (1921–2000), who performed a highly acrobatic technique known as "flash dancing". With a high level of artistry and daring innovations, they were considered by many to be the greatest tap dancers of their day. Their performance in the musical number "Jumpin' Jive" (with Cab Calloway and his orchestra) featured in the movie Stormy Weather is considered by many to be the most virtuosic dance display of all time.
Growing up surrounded by vaudeville acts as children, they became stars of the jazz circuit during the heyday of the Harlem Renaissance and went on to have successful careers performing on stage, film, and television well into the 1990s. (..)
As word spread of their talents, the Nicholas Brothers became famous in Philadelphia. They were first hired for a radio program, The Horn and Hardart Kiddie Hour, and then by other local theatres such as the Standard and the Pearl. When they were performing at the Pearl, the manager of The Lafayette, a famous New York vaudeville showcase, saw them and immediately wanted them to perform for his theater.
The brothers moved to Philadelphia in 1926 and gave their first performance at the Standard a few years later. In 1932 they became the featured act at Harlem's Cotton Club, when Harold was 11 and Fayard was 18. They astonished their mainly white audiences dancing to the jazz tempos of "Bugle Call Rag" and they were the only entertainers in the African-American cast allowed to mingle with white patrons. They performed at the Cotton Club for two years, working with the orchestras of Lucky Millinder, Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington and Jimmy Lunceford. During this time they filmed their first movie short, Pie Pie Blackbird, in 1932, with Eubie Blake and his orchestra.
In their hybrid of tap dance, ballet, and acrobatics—sometimes called acrobatic dancing or "flash dancing"—no individual or group surpassed the effect that the Nicholas Brothers had on audiences and on other dancers. The brothers attributed their success to this unique style of dancing, which was greatly in demand during this time.
Producer Samuel Goldwyn saw them at the Cotton Club and, impressed by their entertaining performance, invited them to California to be a part of Kid Millions (1934), which was their first role in a Hollywood movie. The brothers made their Broadway debut in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1936 and also appeared in Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart's musical Babes in Arms in 1937. They impressed their choreographer, George Balanchine, who invited them to appear in Babes in Arms. With Balanchine's training, they learned many new stunts. Their talent led many to assume they were trained ballet dancers.
By 1940, they had moved to Hollywood and for several decades alternated between movies, nightclubs, concerts, Broadway, television, and extensive tours of Latin America, Africa, and Europe.
They toured England with a production of Blackbirds, which gave the Nicholas Brothers an opportunity to see and appreciate several of the great European ballet companies.
Style and moves
One of their signature moves was to leapfrog down a long, broad flight of stairs, while completing each step with a split. Its most famous performance formed the finale of the movie Stormy Weather. In that routine, the Nicholas Brothers leapt exuberantly across the orchestra's music stands and danced on the top of a grand piano in a call and response act with the pianist, to the tune of Jumpin' Jive. Fred Astaire once told the brothers that this dance number was the greatest movie musical sequence he had ever seen.
In another signature move, they would rise from a split without using their hands. Gregory Hines declared that if their biography were ever filmed, their dance numbers would have to be computer generated because no one now could emulate them. Ballet legend Mikhail Baryshnikov once called them the most amazing dancers he had ever seen in his life.
Awards and honors
Harold received the DEA Award from the Dance Educators of America
Harold received the Bay Area Critics Circle Award (Best Principal Performance, Stompin' at the Savoy)
Harold received the Harbor Performing Arts Center Lifetime Achievement Award
honorary doctorate from Harvard University for both brothers
Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame (1978)
Ellie Award (1984), National Film Society for both brothers
Apollo Theater's Hall of Fame (1986), First Class Inductees for both brothers
Ebony Lifetime Achievement Award (1987) for both brothers
Fayard received Broadway's 1989 Tony Award as Best Choreographer for Black and Blue along with his collaborators Cholly Atkins, Henry LeTang and Frankie Manning.
Scripps American Dance Festival Award
Kennedy Center Honors in 1991 for both brothers who were in attendance
The National Black Media Coalition Lifetime Achievement Award (1992)
Flo-Bert Award (1992)
New York's Tap Dance Committee, Gypsy Award (1994)
A star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7083 Hollywood Blvd (1994)
Professional Dancer's Society, Dance Magazine Award of (1995)
The 1998 Samuel H. Scripps American Dance Festival Award for Lifetime Achievement in Modern Dance
National Museum of Dance Mr. & Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney Hall of Fame Inductees (2001)
Other notable achievements
- In 1948, the Nicholas Brothers gave a royal command performance for King George VI at the London Palladium.
- A retrospective of their work in films appeared at the 1981 Academy Awards ceremony.
- During the course of their lives, the brothers danced for nine different Presidents of the United States.
- The brothers' home movies were selected for inclusion in the National Film Registry in 2011.
Sat Mar 05, 2016 12:25 am
Sat Mar 05, 2016 12:44 am
Sat Mar 05, 2016 2:50 am
drjohncarpenter wrote:Nice detective work!
You'll probably want to update your title a bit. Who we see standing with Elvis is the great Harold Nicholas, one of the Nicholas Brothers, famous African American performers known for their highly acrobatic dancing. And the lovely blonde to the right of Harold must be his French wife, Elayne. She's seen in that article you posted, with their toddler son.
However, we will not find Harold's older brother, Fayard, in any of these photos because he and his wife Vicky had left the team, and returned to Los Angeles. The reason was either because of homesickness, or Fayard's shoehorning his wife into the act causing too much tension.
At the time of these January 1960 photos, Harold had moved from dancer to singer, as part of the revue "Paris Mes Amours," running at L'Olympia on 28 Boulevard des Capucines, and starring Josephine Baker. So ... perhaps we see Elvis after a performance of this show, or maybe all of them were attending a restaurant, seeing a film or a different revue, and the cameras captured this. Everyone is very dressed up, so it was some kind of event.
Ebony Magazine, kind of the Life magazine in America for African-Americans, did a five-page article on the Nicholas Brothers in their May 1960 issue which detailed the split.
Thanks again for the sleuthing, hope the additional details help.
Sat Mar 05, 2016 8:08 pm
Sun Mar 06, 2016 1:06 am
MikeFromHolland wrote:This is what I am here for. Not for comparing the size of our penis.
Sun Mar 06, 2016 11:40 am
drjohncarpenter wrote:MikeFromHolland wrote:This is what I am here for. Not for comparing the size of our penis.
Just to be clear, I am pretty sure we do not share a member. I just checked.
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