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Bojangles - Essay Example

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The Afro-American boy who was to become the world's greatest tap performer of all time had a tough life. Born in Richmond, Virginia on May 25, 1878, to Maxwell Robinson, a machine-shop worker, and Maria Robinson, a choir singer, Luther Robinson had a grandmother, a former slave, who was not willing to take the responsibility of rearing two small orphaned grandchildren…
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Download file to see previous pages Here in this place, his tap lessons were learned and became 'Bojangles'. In this particular place, he learned the ways to earn a living through dancing and entertaining in local beer gardens, worked as bootblack and danced in public passing a hat around. Here in this place, he experienced maturity against life's challenges which gave him the courage to go and explore possibilities.
At age 12, he left Richmond and rode a freight train to Washington, DC. Starting his journey of self-sufficiency as race track worker, Robinson took the road in hard work. After the first taste of professional show business gig in The South before the War and enlisting himself during World War I serving as the drum major of the 369th Infantry Regiment, the so-called "Harlem Hellfighters.", Robinson was determined to be a performer. This foot-work driven undaunted by the then racial discrimination managed to catch the limelight of entertainment amidst the world of white racial dominance in New York City. Among his achievements, he became George W. Cooper's foil, became solo performer and became famous for his debut tap stair dance. To become a show headliner, some of his gimmicks planned together with his manager Marty Forkins include setting a world's record in the backwards 75-yard dash (in 8.2 seconds) beating athletes and won sports world attention. He was offered Broadway shows and was able to enrapture the audience with his performance. Such kind of performance even made its way to New York's 1939 World's Fair. His entertainment skills also provided him the means to invade film industry with the movie phenomenon Shirley Temple.
Having grown in poor conditions but managed to live decently, Robinson was able to earn his living using his talents of entertainment, a skill he learned in his childhood. Having known poverty, he was kind hearted and had lived generously both in spending, gambling and in charity works. He was known to donate in kind and in deeds to several organizations and foundations and also in Richmond. His gambling addiction and unsystematic charity works were said to drain his wealth such that he died poor despite of his million dollars earnings during his more than fifty-year show business career. His interests in this lavish spending and gambling episodes can be traced back to the time when he was just a boy earning his penny and spending his time in corner streets. Though a compulsive gambler, he did not drink. Robinson's tasteful dressing was also one of the most notable characteristic.
In his sixties, Robinson was far from a kid who tap danced to earn pennies; he had achieved wealth and fame in a racist society. Instead of opting for retirement he continued to perform. He lived a principle of hardwork in his performances, "what success I achieved in the theater is due to the fact that I have always worked just as hard when there were ten people in the house as when there were thousands. Just as hard in Springfield, Illinois, as on Broadway" to quote him.
The circumstance in which he was forced into retirement even culminates in his major benefit for the American Heart Association, held at the Copacabana, in New York City, a month before his seventieth birthday. After doing extra, more vigorous steps than the standard routine, he suffered a massive heart attack backstage. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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