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Florence Mills Photo

Stage Name

Birth Name

Florence Mills Florence Winfrey
Baby Florence  
"Queen of Happiness"  
"The Queen of Jazz"  
The Mills Trio <<-- Florence, Maude and ???)
The Panama Trio <<-- with Florence, Bricktop & Cora Green)

   Daughter of John and Nellie (Simon) Winfrey. Petite and demure, Florence Mills was an African-American Singer, Actress and very accomplished Dancer. By age four she was already in revues and by age five she would be winning Buck and Cakewalk dance contests. As a child she was billed as "Baby Florence" Mills. Florence's voice as a singer was very cheery and bright. Later her family moved to New York where the Mills Trio ( Florence and her two sisters) would work in vaudeville. Joins vaudeville star 'Bonita' as a ‘pick’ and was arrested as an underage performer and institutionalized.

Florence's sister Maude was a great Tap dancer known as "Hardfoot Maude" because she could hit the floor with such force.

   Florence Mills was one of the first big stars of the African American Stage after Bert Williams and James Weldon Johnson says "she had no superior in any place or race." She would get her big break in 1921 when she replaced the star (Gertrude Helen Saunders) in the 'Shufflin' Along' Stage musical. She sang and introduced the public to the Baltimore Buzz dance which stunned the show's audiences but it was her singing and delicate voice that was the most spellbinding. Her fame helped jump start the Harlem Renaissance and helped end the male domination in vaudeville. While with the Tennessee Ten, she met Ulysses "Slowkid" Thompson, who was an acrobatic, tap, and "rubberlegs" dancer. They soon became romantically involved, got married and were together until her death.

   Florence was and ardent crusader against the racial disgraces that were abundant at the time, Florence was an ardent activist and promoter for equal rights. She even turned down Florence Ziegfeld to opt for an all Black Musical Revue. There is not much in the way of photo's, Films etc. of Florence mainly because she was the queen of the Stage and not Film. Mills had trouble with pelvic tuberculosis but died of a sudden appendicitis. The Florence Mills House, a National Historic Landmark, ( Which is reported as incorrect, not the actual house) is located at 220 West 135th St. in New York City, NY. Also had a US Postage stamp honoring her.


Birth Place

Birth Date

Spouse

Offspring

Washington D.C.? 1/25/1896- 11/1/1927 Johnny Nit (1st) None
    Ulysses 'Slowkid' Thompson (2nd)  

Dance Types

Dance Partners

Music Titles

Acrobatic Dance Bill 'Bojangles' Robinson I'm a Little Blackbird Looking for a Bluebird
Baltimore Buzz Johnny Nitt I'm Cravin' for that Kind of Love
Breakaway Maude Mills Black Beauty (Ellington Tribute)
Buck Dancing Ulysses S. Thompson  (at Plantation)  Miss Hannah from Savannah (1903)
Cakewalk       Portrait of Florence Mills (Ellington)
Charleston            
Chorus            
Eccentric dance            
Jazz and Vernacular dances            
Shake Dance        
Tap            

Night Clubs

Theaters

Stage

Panama Café Club 48th Street Theatre (1922) 1899 - A Trip to Coon Town (at age 4)
Plantation Club (1921) Alhambra Theatre (1926) 1903 - Son's of Ham (age 8)
      Broadhurst Theatre (1924) 1904 - Bonita and Hearn Tour
      Daly's Theatre (1921) 1919 - Irene
      London's Palladium and also Pavilion 1921 - Plantation Revue (w/ Thompson)
      Palace Theatre 1921 - Shuffle Along
      Vanderbilt Theatre (1919) 1922 - Plantation Revue, Lew Leslie's
            1923 - Dover Street to Dixie
            1924 - Dixie to Broadway (Flo's Shake dance)
Link: Florence Mills House     1926 - Blackbirds of 1926

Films

Television

Publications

n/a n/a 1931 - Brown America: The Negro A New Race
    $ Jazz Dance (Stearns)
    $ 1971 - Notable American Women (Edward T. James)
            $ 1994 - Black Women in America (Hine)
            $ Notable Black American Women (Carney)
            $ Notable Black American Women III (Carney)

NOTE:

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