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Fri, 10.16.1903

Buck Washington, dancer extraordinaire

Buck Washington (right)

Buck Washington was born on this date in 1903. He was a Black dancer, recognized as one of vaudeville's best-known all-around entertainers and innovators.

Ford Lee (Buck) Washington was from Louisville, KY. In 1913 at the age of ten, he joined Pianist John W. Sublett, later known as "Bubbles," who was one year older, and began an astonishing career. Buck and Bubbles teamed up in Indianapolis, with Bubbles singing and dancing and Buck accompanying on piano.

After winning several amateur contests, they played professional engagements in Louisville, KY (often in blackface), Detroit, and New York City. Audiences were thrilled with Buck and Bubbles' singing, dancing, and comedy routine, with Buck's variations in tempo that forced Bubbles to quickly adapt.

In 1922, they performed at New York's Palace Theater, the nation's top vaudeville venue. They broke color barriers by headlining the white vaudeville circuit across the U.S., and were featured in several Broadway revues in the 1920s and 1930s. Stage success resulted in roles in such movies as "Varsity Show" (1937) and "A Song is Born" (1948). Buck and Bubbles performed together until shortly before Buck Washington died in 1955.

The Black Book
By Middleton Harris with assistance from:
Morris Levitt, Roger Furman and Ernest Smith
Copyright 1974, Random House, New York
ISBN 0-394-48388-X

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