Anise Boyer and Partners

A brief sketch on dancer Anise Boyer (1914-2008) and some of her cohorts. Originally from Jacksonville, Florida this petite, baby-faced dancer was already performing in Harlem night spots like the Cotton Club as a young teenager. She was only 18 when she was cast in a central role the race film Harlem is Heaven (1932) alongside Bill Robinson, Eubie Blake, James Baskett, and Putney Dandridge.

In the mid ’30s Boyer teamed with Aland Dixon, who also became her husband. Billed as Anise and Aland, they were known as a top adagio team, who threw acrobatics, ballroom elements and poses into their work. Honi Coles praised them as the fastest in the business. They played the London edition of Lew Leslie’s Blackbirds of 1936, and also were well-remembered staples of Duke Ellington and Cab Calloway’s floor shows. By the early ’40s they had parted ways. Boyer got small parts in the films Stormy Weather (1943), and Carolina Blues (1944)

Dixon was also known as a comedian. I found this cool ad for a revue he fronted a few years later, featuring a young Redd Foxx:

You’ll also see here mentioned Archie Savage. Savage was a veteran of the Katherine Dunham troupe and had appeared in Cabin in the Sky (1943). He had briefly been protege of Ethel Waters, but that fell through when she accused him of stealing several thousand dollars worth of cash and jewelry. he served a year in San Quentin. He became Boyer’s partner for a time starting in 1944. Starting in 1953 Savage resumed his Hollywood career, appearing in over 2 dozen additional films through 1969.

As for Boyer, she had just one more film to her credit, Look Out Sister (1947) with bandleader Louis Jordan, in which she has a chorus role. She went on to marry Robert Clark, the former husband and manager of Louise Beavers, and subsequently retired from show business.

To learn more about vaudeville history, please see No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous