The Happy Feet of Al “Crazy Legs” Norman

Eccentric dancer Al Norman (Samuel Newman, 1906-99) was from New York and was nicknamed “Crazy Legs” or “Rubber Legs”. He performed in vaudeville and nightclubs and later was booked on film and television. For a time he danced with a partner named Eddie Rio. He might be best remembered nowadays for the “Happy Feet” number in The King of Jazz (1930), but his other movies included New York Nights (1929), Paramount on Parade (1930), Good News (1930), Pardon My Gun (1930), 52nd Street (1937), Trade Winds (1938), Around the World (1943) and Cover Girl (1944). During this period he was also on Broadway in Earl Carroll’s Vanities (1931) and Follow the Girls (1944-46).

Later Norman danced on the tv variety programs The Morey Amsterdam Show (1949), Cavalcade of Stars (1951), and the All Star Revue (1951). There are many clips of him doing his thing on Youtube, and many mentions of his screen performances, but I’ve not yet come across any reviews of his stage work from the early years (although there are plenty from his peak ones). After he retired, Norman went into the antiques business.

Thanks, Vince Giordano, for helping me find a couple of the tidbits herein.

To learn more about the history of variety entertainment, where eccentric dancers like Al Norman have been known to thrive, please read No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous,