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The Berry Brothers (Ananias, Jimmy and Warren Berry)

Stage Name

Birth Name

The Berry Brothers

Ananias Berry
The Three Berry Brothers Jimmy Berry
Miniature Williams and Walker Warren Berry

   African-American tap dancers the Berry Brothers became a very successful Tap Dance trio. Jimmy and Ananias were discovered by Duke Ellington and joined him at the Cotton Club in New York, who helped start their career in show business. The Berry Brothers even performed with the Whyte's Hopping Maniac's ( Whitey's Lindy Hoppers) at the Moulin Rouge in Paris. Performed with Buck and Bubbles in Lew Leslie's Blackbirds in 1930 and were the hit of the show. In 1932 they were the opening act for the New Radio City Music Hall.

   Their father was against the kids entering show business in the beginning but later became their manager. Their only people to have taught the Brothers was Henri Wessels who was a friend of the family and their

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father who was a great Cakewalker himself. Moving to Hollywood around 1925. They entered an amateur dance contest calling themselves "The Miniature Williams and Walker. Jimmy danced at parties with the likes of Clara Bow and Mary Pickford and eventually got a part in the 'Our Gang Comedies'.

   They were the only successful tap dance duo or trio to rival the Nicholas Brothers in talent, flash and success. The young brothers danced in top hat and tails and had some amazing Acrobatic tap routines combining "picture" strutting with a relaxed style that was over before yah knew it. Jimmy left the group when he married Ms. Snow in 1934. Jimmy taught Warren his routines and he and Ananias continued the act. Jimmy returned to the act after about a year and the three were now officially the Berry Brothers which lasted another ten years until Ananias slowed down due to injuries and suddenly died of a heart attack in 1951. For a brief time Ananias was drafted in the Army (1943-1945) but after his death, without Ananias in the act they lost all desire as Ananias was the key to the act. It didn't help much either when Jimmy was rehearsing for the Ed Sullivan show and broke his hip, which would later confine him to a wheel chair. However Jimmy stayed in the dance scene as a film editor and coach. Warren continued on teaching younger dancers. They were unique in their ability to combine the Strut of the Cakewalk, Cane work and Acrobatics.

    The Big Fight:   The Berry Brothers fought for supremacy against the Nicholas Brothers on the same bill, just once, and at the Cotton Club no less. The Nicholas Brothers would appear all through out the show as they were the stars at the time, everyone was waiting in anticipation to see who would come out on top with most expecting the Nicholas Brothers to be the victors. Cab Calloway's band was playing on an elevated platform in the rear of the stage with a balcony about twelve feet above them with stairs on each side where the chorus girls posed.

   Towards the end of the nights affairs, the Nicholas Brothers came on and did their best act to keep the new pups at bay and the audience went wild with applause, the Nicholas brothers were hot!. However, Ananias had an idea. Just before the end of their act with spotlights following their every move, Ananias and Jimmy jumped up on the band stand and then sprinted further up each side of the stairs to the balcony and took a running leap off the balcony without any hesitation, over the heads of the playing musicians and onto the stage landing in full splits on each side of their brother Warren, who was still dancing center stage as he had just snapped out of a twisting back somersault into a split of his own, each in perfect unison with the other and hit the last note of the beat of music. The crowd went nuts and would not stop screaming, a new winner was hailed, the true " Flash Act" was born.


Birth Place

Birth Date

Spouse

Offspring

(A) New Orleans, LA. 1912-1951 n/a n/a
(J) New Orleans, LA. 1914 - 1/28/1969 Valaida Snow (1934)      
(W) Denver, CO. 12/25/1922-8/10/1996            
           

Dance Types

Dance Partners

Music Titles

Tap ( Acrobatic) Nancy Doran? 1931- Rhapsody In Blue
            1931- Till The Real Thing Comes Along
          1942 - Berry Me Not (Panama Hattie)
          1942 - The Spring (Panama Hattie)
           

Night Clubs

Theaters

Stage

Apollo Theater Apollo (7th Annual Midnight Benefit Show, 1943) Rhythmania (Cotton Club)
Cotton Club Royale Theater (1930) 1930 - Lew Leslie's Blackbirds
Moulin Rouge Sam H. Harris Theater (1931) 1931 - Rhapsody In Black
Radio City Music Hall       1936 - Cotton Club Parade
Rio Cabana (1946)        
Savoy Ballroom        
Café Zanzibar [NYC] 1944        

Films

Television

Publications

1924 - $50K Reward n/a 1930 - Brooklyn Eagle
1940 - Sheik of Araby       $ Jazz Dance (Stearns)
$ 1941 - Lady Be Good        
$ 1942 - Panama Hattie            
1948 - Boarding House Blues            
1949 - You Are (You're) My Everything            

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