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Teddy Hale Dances

Air Date: March 22, 1949

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In this Classic TV clip tap dance legend, Teddy Hale, performs on the Texaco Star Theater starring Milton Berle

In this rarely seen classic TV footage, legendary tap dancer Teddy Hale appears in his only surviving filmed appearance on the Texaco Star Theater from March 22, 1949.

Teddy Hale was the tap dancer’s dancer. He was born to a chorus girl and joined her on stage as soon as he was able. By ten years old, Teddy had his own nightclub act, singing telling jokes and doing impressions. He was booked at the Apollo Theater, the cotton club and appeared for downtown audiences at Connie’s Inn before he was old enough to work.

Hale grew up throughout jazz music’s bebop revolution in the 1940’s and appeared as a band member with such legendary musicians of the era as Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Dexter Gordon and Art Tatum. Hale’s percussive style was likened to bebop drumming and he was invited to sit in on bebop jam sessions as a musician, not a dancer, to weave is rhythmic ideas into the band’s performance.

Stories about Hales’ dance ability grew and his reputation brought him in contact with another genre breaking dancer, Baby Laurence. The tap dance contests between the two are legendary to this day, but unfortunately few examples remain that demonstrate the unique ability of either dance.

In and out of trouble with the law, bouts of drug addiction and racist booking systems all held Hale back from reaching his full potential as a performer. Hale was even arrested as a suspect in the death of jazz saxophonist, Wardell Gray. In one encounter with the police, Hale was shot in the leg and filed a lawsuit against the NYC Police Department for $2.5 million. The lawsuit ultimately went nowhere.

Hale died in is early thirties after bouts with drug addiction and legal troubles. This small classic TV clip is one of the few remaining artifacts that demonstrate his amazing ability.

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