The Blackburn Twins: Tap Dancing Brothers

with Virginia Mayo in “She’s Working Her Way Through College” (1952)

Ramon and Royce Perez Blackburn, the Blackburn Twins were born in 1925. I see many partial biographies of this interesting team of tap dancing twin brothers on the internet; you are reading the only relatively complete one you will find.

Born on Long Island, the Blackburn Twins were only seven when they danced in the Jerome Kern musical Music in the Air (1932-33). They appeared in their first film Her First Affaire, with Ida Lupino, in 1932. As child actors, the boys appeared in the Broadway plays 200 Were Chosen (1936), and As You Like It (1937). Separately, Royce appeared in Everywhere I Roam (1938-39) and Ramon in Stop-Over (1938). As a duo the pair danced in Olsen and Johnson’s Sons o’Fun (1941-43). Drafted into the army during World War II they appeared in both the stage and screen versions of the patriotic show Winged Victory (1943-44). In 1946 they appeared in a gimmicky musical short called Film Vodvil: Three Sets of Twins with the McFarland Twins (musicians) and the Burke Twins (singers).

Most show biz buffs know the Blackburn twins from three Hollywood films they danced in: Words and Music (1948), Take Me Out to the Ball Game (1949), and She’s Working Her Way Through College (1952). Most of the time they danced in nightclubs, but from 1948 through 1953 they also made television appearances on shows like Cavalcade of Stars, The Ed Sullivan Show, Texaco Star Theatre with Milton Berle, The Colgate Comedy Hour, and The Arthur Murray Party. 1952, while performing at the Copa Cabana, Ramon met and fell for Copa Girl Joyce Sieger. They were married within weeks.

Royce was living in New Hampshire when he died of cancer in 1994. I was astounded to learn this morning that Ramon died just a few months ago in Florida, in August, 2018.

To learn more about show biz historyplease consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous