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Harold Nicholas

Harold Nicholas

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Also Known As: Harold Lloyd Nicholas Died: July 3, 2000
Born: March 27, 1921 Cause of Death: kidney failure and cardiac arrest following surgery
Birth Place: Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA Profession: dancer, singer

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

From vaudeville to the Cotton Club, from Broadway to Hollywood, the Nicholas brothers thrilled audiences with their unique blend of athleticism and grace. Hailed by The New York Times as "great tap dancers" and "masters of timing and ministers of grace", the siblings finally received long overdue recognition in the 1980s and 90s. While they had enjoyed a measure of success on stage in the 30s and in film in the 40s, the prevalent racism of Hollywood and the rest of the USA hindered these pioneers from achieving the heights of white counterparts. They enjoyed wider acclaim in post-war Europe, Both brothers also displayed depth as dramatic actors in film roles but neither was able to fully capitalize on those skills either. Instead, they were content to be feted and praised for their career which spanned six decades.

From vaudeville to the Cotton Club, from Broadway to Hollywood, the Nicholas brothers thrilled audiences with their unique blend of athleticism and grace. Hailed by The New York Times as "great tap dancers" and "masters of timing and ministers of grace", the siblings finally received long overdue recognition in the 1980s and 90s. While they had enjoyed a measure of success on stage in the 30s and in film in the 40s, the prevalent racism of Hollywood and the rest of the USA hindered these pioneers from achieving the heights of white counterparts. They enjoyed wider acclaim in post-war Europe, Both brothers also displayed depth as dramatic actors in film roles but neither was able to fully capitalize on those skills either. Instead, they were content to be feted and praised for their career which spanned six decades.

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Funny Bones (1995) Hal Dalzell
2.
 Five Heartbeats, The (1991) Sarge
3.
 Tap (1989) Harold
4.
 Tapdancin' (1981)
5.
 Disco 9000 (1978)
6.
 Uptown Saturday Night (1974) Little Seymour
7.
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1926:
At age five, made vaudeville debut in Philadelphia dancing with brother and sister as the Nicholas Kids
1930:
Professional debut with brother Fayard on "The Horn and Hardart Kiddie Hour"
:
While performing at the Lafayette Theater in Harlem, spotted by a talent scout from Warner Bros. and signed to appear in films
1932:
Film debut, the musical short "Pie, Pie Blackbird" also featuring Eubie Blake
1932:
Performed alsongside Cab Calloway, Ethel Waters and Duke Ellington at the Cotton Club; went to perform as headliners there until 1940
1933:
Film debut in bit role as a pint-sized orchestra leader in "The Emperor Jones", starring Paul Robeson
:
While performing at the Cotton Club, seen by Samuel Goldwyn who offered the brothers their first feature
1934:
Feature film debut, "Kid Millions"
1935:
Had integral role in "The Big Broadcast of 1936"
1936:
Appeared on the London stage in "Blackbirds of 1936"
1936:
Broadway debut, "The Ziegfeld Follies of 1936". directed by Vincente Minnelli and choreographed by George Balanchine
1937:
Had featured role in the Rodgers and Hart Broadway musical "Babes in Arms"; Balanchine provided the choreography
1939:
Toured South America with Carmen Miranda
1940:
Breakthrough film, "Down Argentine Way", also featuring Carmen Miranda
1941:
Teamed onscreen with Dorothy Dandridge and brother Fayard in the "Chattanooga Choo Choo" number in "Sun Valley Serenade"; number nominated for a Best Song Oscar
1942:
Introduced the Oscar-nominated song "I've Got a Gal In Kalamazoo" in "Orchestra Wives"
1943:
Performed what is considered their best screen dance in the all-black musical "Stormy Weather"
1944:
Made solo appearance in "Carolina Blues" (while brother Fayard was serving in the military)
1948:
Last film as the Nicholas Brothers, "The Pirate"; broke color barriers by dancing with Gene Kelly; film directed by Vincente Minnelli
1948:
Toured the southern USA with Dizzy Gillespie
1950:
Moved to France
:
Had career in Europe and North Africa as a dancer and singer
1953:
Performed with brother at the inauguration of US President Dwight Eisenhower
:
Headlined at the Sands Hotel with Frank Sinatra
1964:
Appeared in the French film "L'Empire de la nuit"
1965:
Toured Vietnam entertaining troops with Bob Hope and the USO
:
Returned to the USA
1974:
Cast in dramatic role as a gangster in "Uptown Saturday Night"
1982:
Returned to Broadway succeeding Gregory Hines in "Sophisticated Ladies", a revue of songs by Duke Ellington
1985:
Toured in the stage musical "The Tap Dance Kid"
1989:
Had featured role in "Tap"
1991:
Appeared in "The Five Heartbeats"
1992:
Subject of the film documentary "The Nicholas Brothers: We Sing and We Dance"; aired on A&E
1995:
Final acting role, "Funny Bones"
1996:
Taught at Harvard as a visiting dance artist with Fayard
1998:
With brother, was feted with a tribute at Carnegie Hall
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Notes

He was named after the silent screen comedian Harold Lloyd.

"The Nicholas Brothers were known as the "flash act" for their ability to walk up walls, fly through the air, leap down staircases and syncopate steps with an apparent ease that caused many a dancer to injure himself in attempted imitation." --From "Black and Blue" Playbill.

"As they flipped and leap-frogged, even a casual observer could see that all dancers, including Fred Astaire, had picked up steps, routines, and distinctive rhythmic quirks from this unusual team." --From "Toms, Coons, Mulattoes, Mammies & Bucks" by Donald Bogle, 1973.

"We couldn't be Gene Kelly or Fred Astaire--all they wanted us to do is dance, and the more spectacular the better. Of course that was disappointing." --Harold Nicholas in Los Angeles Times, July 2, 2000.

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Dorothy Dandridge. Actor, singer. Married on November 2, 1942, divorced in 1951; met while performing at the Cotton Club in 1939; appeared with the Nicholas brothers in the "Chattanooga Choo Choo" number in "Sun Valley Serenade" (1941); mother of Harolyn; died in 1965.
wife:
Elyanne Patronne. Second wife; mother of Melih; divorced.
wife:
Rigmor Newman Nicholas. Manager. Swedish had been companions for more than ten years before their marriage; survived him.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Ulysses Nicholas. Musician, vaudeville orchestra director. Died of a heart attack in1935.
mother:
Viola Nicholas. Musician, vaudeville orchestra director.
brother:
Fayard Nicholas. Dancer, singer, choreographer. Born on October 20, 1914 in Mobile, Alabama; choreographed the team's act and later choreographed the "Butter and Egg Man" dance for the Broadway musical "Black and Blue" (1989).
sister:
Dorothy Nicholas. Dancer.
daughter:
Harolyn Suzanne Nicholas. Born on September 2, 1943; mother Dorothy Dandridge; mentally retared, born with brain injury.
son:
Melih Nicholas. Mother, Elyanne Patronne.
step-son:
Frederick Newman.
step-daughter:
Annie Newman.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"Brotherhood in Rhythm: The Jazz Tap Dancing of the Nicholas Brothers" Oxford University Press

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