Stars of Vaudeville #589: Aaron Palmer


This post is one of a series honoring Black History Month.

Aaron Palmer started out at age 13 as a “pickaninny” with Mabel Whitman and her Dixie Boys, an act produced by the Whitman Sisters on the black vaudeville circuit (the act also toured internationally). Prior to this he had been dancing in a trio in his native Charleston.

In 1919, he married Alice, the youngest of the Whitman Sisters and became the father of Albert “Pops” Whitman, who would also dance with the troupe (and beyond). In 1922, after 12 years with the Whitman Sisters Troupe, Palmer was hired by Lew Leslie to dance in his Plantation Revue. He was respected for his poise and grace, his erect posture, his singing voice, and his snazzy wardrobe. Born circa 1897, he was around as late as 1968, when Marshall and Jean Stearns interviewed him for their book Jazz Dance: The Story of American Vernacular Dance.

To find out more about the variety arts past and presentconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famousavailable at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold. And don’t miss Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, to be released by Bear Manor Media in 2013.



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