PEG LEG BATES (ca 1935)


Vintage original 10 x 8” (25 x 20 cm.) photo, USA.

Clayton ‘Peg Leg’ Bates was a black African American dancer from the 1920s to the 1960s. He was born in 1907, and at an early age, he became a street dancer, but he lost one of his legs in a cotton gin accident at the age of 12. He then learned to tap dance with a makeshift wooden peg leg, hence his stage name. He was a major vaudeville star from the 1920s to the 1940s. In 1948, he made the first of 20 appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show, and in 1951, he bought land in the Catskills, and he opened the Peg Leg Bates Country Club, which was the first all-black club in that area, and over the next decades, many of the greatest African American performers got their starts in that club! He continued appearing on TV, and in 1992, Gregory Hines made a biography documentary about him called “The Dancing Man”. Mr. Bates passed away in 1998 at the age of 91. This promotional photo is by New York photographer James Kriegsmann, who was responsible for many celebrity photos, including shoots with Frank Sinatra, Bill Haley, Ray Charles, Duke Ellingtopn, Ray Conniff, and Stevie Wonder.

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