Saturday, May 25, 2013

Happy Tap Dance Day!

Today is National Tap Dance Day. In fact, it’s the 23rd National Tap Dance Day, having been signed into law by President George W. Bush back in 1989 to celebrate tap dancing as an American art form. May 25th was picked as the date because it happens to be the birthday of Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, one of the greatest tappers of all time. Just go to YouTube and watch his staircase routine with Shirley Temple and you’ll see what I mean. My other tap dancing favorites in the movies are Gene Kelly, Ruby Keeler, Eleanor Powell, Donald O’Connor, the Nicholas Brothers, Fred Astaire, Ann Miller and Gregory Hines.

I’ve also been a tapper during many years of my life, so imagine my joy at actually meeting one of the greats during the 100-Year Birthday Celebration of the Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego a few years ago. At one point in the evening festivities I noticed a lonely little woman sitting in a corner and went over to keep her company. As I came closer, I thought she looked familiar. When I sat down beside her, I realized she was the legendary Ruby Keeler. “What a coincidence,” I said. “I’m taking a tap dancing class, and the instructor showed us 42nd STREET last week. She wanted us to see the best!”

Keeler, who was suffering from crippling arthritis, smiled and replied “That’s good news! I didn’t know people watched my films anymore.” After assuring her that she was wrong about that, I enjoyed an intimate conversation with one of filmdom’s greatest hoofers – and that’s one of my most cherished memories!

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  • Betty Jo - What a perfectly wonderful story! It never ceases to amaze me that such wonderful stars as Ruby Keeler think nobody know or cares about their work anymore. She may have more fans worldwide than in her heyday. It's too bad you two couldn't have cut a rug together!

    By Blogger Marilyn, At 11:28 AM  

  • Wow! Hotel Del Coronado..I started my writing and painting career in little 'Norman Rockwell' home forever and ever in my soul..I will vote twice for Gregory Hines and Gene Kelly. I adore tap dancing and might even take a class when I get to Paris or San next move. An Ann Miller. The sound of tap shoes on the floor intoxicates me..In San Francisco as you come up from the Powell Street Bart, close to Union Square..there is a man that tap dances on a little block of wood and is amazing..We can hear him inside the car as the doors open to let passengers out..and the escalator hits the top, he is already sweating, smiling and tapping his feet to the merry beats. Thanks for your excellent blog on Tap Dancing..An art form which entertains us today, tomorrow..forever I hope!! Judy Joy Jones

    By Blogger Joy of The Judy Joy Jones Show, At 12:22 PM  

  • Thanks so much, Marilyn and Joy, for reading this blog entry and for your enthusiastic reactions to Tap Dance Day. How I wish Ruby and I could have cut a rug together, Marilyn. And the sound of tap shoes on the floor also intoxicates me, Joy! I still have my tap shoes, so I'm doing a few time steps and soft shoe numbers for my hubby today. He seems to appreciate my efforts, but I think he's just being polite. :-)

    By Blogger Betty Jo, At 12:38 PM  

  • I'm not surprised you were a tapped, you are quite a gal. who knew their was a tap dance day? BETTY that's who. Keeping it going strong dear friend. Diana

    By Blogger Diana Saenger, At 1:35 PM  

  • Thanks, dear Diana. Gotta keep tappin' our troubles away!

    By Blogger Betty Jo, At 2:54 PM  

  • OMG Ruby Keeler! A legend - one meets another. What a fitting story for your humble, gracious ways! It's magical the way the universe ties things together. I bet you're still a charismatic hoofer! Thanks for sharing this touching tale.

    By Blogger Jane Bernard, At 1:50 PM  

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