Born this day in 1890, Eddie Rector was considered by many to be vaudeville’s best soft shoe dancer and the principle rival to Bill Robinson at tap. He was also one of the first dancers to fully use the stage in his routine rather than remaining firmly planted to one spot in the Irish clogging tradition. Starting out in his youth as a “pick”, he worked in black vaudeville, burlesque and revues, eventually making it to Broadway in the early part of the 30s. Later, he would become a familiar sight at Harlem venues like the the Cotton Club and the Apollo, but he spent several of his last years institutionalized for a reported nervous breakdown. He passed away in 1962.
To find out more about the history of vaudeville including dancers like Eddie Rector, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous