Bill Bailey Moonwalks

Notable Cast

Other Great Videos from Past Entertainment
Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley on stage together.

Frank and Elvis Sing

Frank Sinatra sings, “Love Me Tender” and Elvis Presley sings, “Witchcraft,” in a duet! From the 1960 Classic TV Frank Sinatra special on ABC, The show featured Elvis’s first TV appearance after being released from the Army.

A clash of the Titans! What more can you say!

Bob Fosse and Mary Niles

Bob Fosse Dances!

You know him as the director/choreographer of Cabaret, All That Jazz and Sweet Charity. In 1951, Jerry Lewis saw the act of a young dancer, Bob Fosse, and his partner, Mary Ann Niles, at the Pierre Hotel in New York City. Lewis invited the young dancers to be on the Colgate Comedy Hour and choreograph the dance numbers for that show. This is Bob Fosse’s dance appearance on the Colgate Comedy Hour, February 4, 1951.

Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, Bing Crsoby performing and joking onstage

Crosby and Sinatra on the Road to Morroco!

From the 1957 Classic TV special, “The Edsel Show,” Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra try to sing the theme song from the 1942 Crosby and Hope motion picture, “The Road to Morocco.” Sinatra and Crosby are interrupted by the show’s special guest, Bob Hope, who joins the two.

Bill Bailey, tap dance pioneer, performs his dance move he called, “The Backslide,” which would later become known as “The Moonwalk” when performed by Michael Jackson.

Tap dancing was a staple of Classic TV. In the 1940’s and 50’s, Bill Baily, shown it the above Classic TV video clip was an acknowledged master of the dance. As with many performers of this era, his performing background began in the church, where his father, Joseph James Bailey, was a preacher. His younger sister, Pearl Bailey would also get her start in that church, and both would go on to become among the most popular performers of their time.

Bill Bailey’s popularity and influence is hard to envision today, as the popularity of this dance form has waned. Tap dancing was a staple in minstrel shows and, later, vaudeville circuits as the athletic and percussive dance thrilled audiences. Translating that excitement to movie screen and early television screens seemed like a natural development.

Bill Bailey was among the pioneers in that effort. After establishing himself as a master of his craft in live theaters appearing with such luminaries as Cab Calloway and Duke Ellington, Bailey first performed on screen in 1936 in the short, Going Native. Seven years later Bailey would again appear in film on the feature length, A Cabin in the Sky. In this film Bill performs a move he called, “The Backslide.” The move would become much more famous and hugely popular when performed by Michael Jackson and called “The Moonwalk.”

Bailey was also a popular Classic TV performer. He was a regular on the Ed Sullivan Show, even performing with his equally talented sister many times. He appeared many times on the early television classic, An Evening at the Apollo.

Bill Bailey never abandoned his childhood religious influences. He opened his own church in Harlem to minister to performers at the nearby Apollo Theater. From that point on, he would only return to performing when his church needed funds to continue his ministry.

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