On the Legendary Slow Kid Thompson

Slow Kid Thompson with Florence Mills

Ulysses S. “Slow Kid” Thompson (1888-1990) was the husband and manager of Florence Mills from 1921 until her death in 1927, and a well known dancer in his own right. His nickname came from his ability to do a certain comical slow dance. He started out as a teenager hoofing and doing odd jobs for circuses, medicine shows and carnivals. In the nineteen-tens he broke into black vaudeville, where he performed with the likes of the Whitman Sisters and Willie Covan. It was while performing with a group called the Tennessee Ten that he first met Mills, who also performed with the act. His career was briefly interrupted 1917-1918 to serve in World War I. When he returned, the Tennessee Ten got a high profile gig backing up Nora Bayes, and so managed to crack mainstream big time vaudeville. There followed several high profile revues for impresario Lew Leslie. When Mills passed away, Thompson worked at a speakeasy and took his dance act on a world tour.

To find out more about  the history of vaudevilleconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.


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