Thursday, February 21, 2013
Peg Leg Bates
In honor of Black History Month, I'd like to present an incredible tap dancer named Peg Leg Bates (1907-1998)!
When he was a kid he used to dance in the local barber shop for change. At the age of 12 he was in a cotton gin accident and lost much of his left leg. Since hospitals in South Carolina were segregated at that time, African Americans didn't always have access to good medical care. So the leg amputation took place in his mother's home. His uncle fixed up a peg leg for him. And young Clayton Bates decided to keep on dancing.
He was quite famous in his day, appearing in vaudeville, on Broadway, and television, including the Ed Sullivan show where he appeared many times. And like any stylish man about town, he coordinated his peg leg with his suits. He also ran a resort in the Catskills that continued on till the days of segregation were over.
He was a man who was unafraid of aging. He kept on living (and sometimes dancing) till the day he died.
The next time you think you can't do something, just remember Peg Leg Bates, the one-legged dancer.
You can check out his bio at Answers.com
Below is another of Mr. Bates's performances. This one is much later than the first, from I believe the Ed Sullivan Show.