Frankie "Musclehead" Manning
Frank Benjamin Manning
Frankie was born in Jacksonville, Florida in
1914 and moved to Harlem New York in 1917. He was introduced to
dancing thru his mother at the age of nine with the Black Bottom,
Charleston etc. and by age fourteen was practicing many dances
of the day. Manning started dancing at the Alhambra and Renaissance
Ballrooms and later at age nineteen the Savoy
Ballroom in Harlem, New York. Frankie was part of a dance
troupe called the Whitey's
Lindy Hoppers ( Aka Whyte's Hopping Maniacs) from 1933
to the 1940's. In 1937 Frankie was part of the Lindy Hoppers who
went on a European tour with the Cotton Club Revue and gave King
George VI a command performance.
Frankie led the the Hoppers in many of its
routines as well as the Congeroo's which were really a back up
team for the Whitey's Lindy Hoppers. Manning and the troupe danced
in many films such as 'Killer Diller, Hellzapoppin' (1941) and
A Day At The Races'.
In 1940 Morgan Smith captured the famous Lindy
Hop Photo of Frankie and Ann Johnson for Life Magazine and later
again appeared in
Life Magazine in 1941
and in the same year went to Rio for a Brazilian Tour. By 1943
Frankie entered the US Army and was honorably discharged in 1947.
Whitey's Lindy Hoppers was now a thing of the past, but Frankie
continued with a group called the Congeroo's untill the rock and
roll craze and the twist sealed its fate.
Frankie would later marry (1954,)
have a son ( Chaz) and work as a postal employee till his
retirement in 1984. By 1986, Frankie was back in the Swing community
teaching his original style of Lindy Hop to thousands thanks to
Erin Stevens and Steven Mitchell who sought him out and coaxed
him out of retirement. Frankie currently resides in New York and
is involved in many Swing dance Events across the country. He
is one of the true, original masters of the Lindy Hop.
Manning is considered one of the founding
fathers of the Lindy Hop. Frankie has received a few prestigious
awards such as a Tony Award for Choreography of the 1989 Broadway
show Black 'n Blue, The National Endowment for the Arts Grant
for Choreography in 1994 and 1995 plus the National Heritage Fellowship
Award in 2000.
A resident of Corona, Queens, He is surivived by four children,
a half-brother, seven grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
Manning died in Manhattan on April 24, 2009. He is interred at
Woodlawn Cemetery in Bronx, NY.