Pint-sized Jazz Age terpsichorean Ann Pennington, famed for her renditions of the Black Bottom and the Charleston, and for her ability to tap, was born on this day in 1893. She started out in amateur shows in New Jersey, gradually moving up to vaudeville. A part in a Raymond Hitchcock show in 1911 brought her to New York, which was to remain her permanent home base thereafter. She was to be on Broadway every single year for over two decades, for the most part shuttling back and forth between the Ziegfeld Follies and George White’s Scandals, but also starring in other revues as well. When the Depression took a big bite out of Broadway she continued to dance in whatever clubs and presentation houses she could. Her last Broadway part was in 1943. By the mid 40s, her career was pretty much over. At one point, she was said to have amassed two million dollars. During her last years, she was living on welfare in a Times Square hotel. She passed away in 1971.
To find out more about these variety artists and the history of vaudeville, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.