“To me he was the greatest comedian + dancer in my race.  He didn’t need black face—to be funny.  Better than Bert Williams.  I personally Admired Bill Robinson because he was immaculately dressed — you could see the Quality in his Clothes from the stage.  Stopped every show. . . . I don’t think that there will ever be a Bojangles Bill Robinson again.  They might try to Duplicate him, but I doubt it.  May the Lord bless his soul.  I am very proud to say that I shared the stage with the great Bill Bojangles Robinson’ many times for many years.  Yessir.

from Louis Armstrong + The Jewish Family in New Orleans, La., The Year of 1907, reprinted in LOUIS ARMSTRONG IN HIS OWN WORDS, ed. Thomas Brothers.


  1. sam parkins

    THANK YOU !! It’s easy to forget that this world had room for such pure elegance in that pre-war time (and BTW near the bottom of the Great Depression). I dream that this current depression will throw off some art as elegant as this — seems unlikely in Hip-Hop Heaven but I can dream … sam p

  2. Stompy Jones

    Bill Robinson had a gift for phrase-making. I remember when the Dodgers staged a Jackie Robinson Day at Ebbets Field late in the 1947 season. Bojangles was there, paying tribute to the ballplayer he called “Ty Cobb in Technicolor.”

  3. the way his foot solo builds momentum.

    Like a Jo Jones drum solo, who was also a tap dancer.

  4. Stompy Jones

    PS to my Bill Robinson-Jackie Robinson recollection: the next day’s NY newspapers featured a photo of Bojangles tapdancing atop the Dodgers’ dugout. If some internet detective out there could track down this photo and post it here, I’d be most grateful.

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