Stars of Vaudeville # 600: Ginger Jack Wiggins


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

Ginger Jack Wiggins got his start on the TOBA circuit and black vaudeville, training with the Whitman Sisters and performing with the likes of Ma Rainey. Rather than playing the minstrel man or tramp, Wiggins wore elegant dinner clothes aided by sparkling rhinetsones and sequins. A master of the soft shoe, he invented many of his own tap steps, a move he called “Pulling It”, the “Bantam Twist”, and the “Tango Twist”. As a member of Harlem’s legendary Hoofer’s Club, he was a major influence on the Nicholas Brothers, and also inspired Nipsy Russell to go into show business. Ethel Waters was also one of his fans.

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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