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John W. Bubbles
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Dancer
    (February 19, 1902-May 18, 1986)
    Born in Louisville, Kentucky
    Birth name was John William Sublett
    Tap dancer
    Formed the duo Buck and Bubbles with pianist/singer Ford L. ‘Buck’ Washington
    Performed with Buck in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1931
    Portrayed Sportin’ Life in the original production of ‘Porgy and Bess’ (1935)
    Appeared in the films ‘Varsity Show’ (1937), ‘Cabin in the Sky’ (1943), ‘A Song Is Born’ (1948), and ‘Love, Dance, and 1,000 Songs’ (1955)
    He was originally a singer, taking up dancing after his voice broke during puberty.
    He could not read music and had to be taught the songs for ‘Porgy and Bess’ note by note.
    He was replaced by Avon Long on the ‘Porgy and Bess’ cast album.
    When asked to name the best tap dancer, he replied, ‘You’re looking at him.’
    He and Buck Washington were the first black artists to perform at Radio City Music Hall.
    He was called ‘the father of rhythm tap,’ as the first dancer to add percussive heel drops to tap dancing.
    He gave tap dancing lessons to Fred Astaire.
    He entertained the troops in Vietnam on a USO tour (1965).
    He received a lifetime achievement award from the American Guild of Variety Artists (1980).

Credit: C. Fishel


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