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Fayard Nicholas

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Information about Fayard Nicholas

Profile image of Fayard Nicholas

Profession

Category:
EntertainmentMakers
Occupation(s):
Dancer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Salmon, Vegetables, Fruit, Ice Cream
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
None
Favorite Quote:
Be happy.

Birthplace

Born:
10/20/1914
Birth Location:
Mobile, Alabama

Profession

Category:
EntertainmentMakers
Occupation(s):
Dancer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Salmon, Vegetables, Fruit, Ice Cream
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
None
Favorite Quote:
Be happy.

Birthplace

Born:
10/20/1914
Birth Location:
Mobile
See how Fayard Nicholas is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Fayard Antonio Nicholas, eldest of the world famous, high-flying tap duo, "The Nicholas Brothers," spent his childhood on the road with his vaudevillian parents. He was born in their hometown of Mobile, Alabama, on October 20, 1914. His Father, Ulysses D. Nicholas, was a drummer and his mother, Viola Harden Nicholas, played piano. The two college educated musicians performed as the Nicholas Collegians or accompanied other acts or silent films. Nicholas' sister, Dorothy was born in 1920; the following year, Harold, who was named after silent film's Harold Lloyd, the "King of Daredevil Comedy," was born.

African American stars like Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, The Step Brothers, and Butterbeans and Susie were young Nicholas' extended family. He studied their routines from the wings and yearned to be on stage. He and his siblings devised a song and dance act that gained his parents' approval, and the three debuted as "The Nicholas Kids" in Philadelphia around 1927. From this emerged "The Nicholas Brothers." The brothers always performed last because nobody wanted to follow the kids' show stopping tap moves, especially the spectacular double "flying splits." The Nicholas Brothers opened at Harlem's Cotton Club in 1931, where the performers were black and the patrons white. While performing there, the brothers met Harold Lloyd, Georgie Jessell, and Bob Hope. One of the most popular routines at the Cotton Club was "Minnie the Moocher" with Cab Calloway, in which young Harold mimicked the real Cab and challenges him to a scatting contest. They brought the house down with their frenetic dancing to "Bugle Call Rag,"

The Nicholas Brothers went on to dance in their first film; a short entitled Pie Pie Blackbird with Eubie Blake's Orchestra in 1932. That was followed by Kid Millions with Eddie Cantor in 1934, The Ziegfield Follies in 1936, and Babes In Arms in 1937. The brothers garnered speaking roles in The Big Broadcast of 1936 and performed a number with Dorothy Dandridge, Harold's future bride, in 1941's Sun Valley Serenade. In 1943, the Nicholas Brothers starred in Stormy Weather with Fats Waller, Lena Horne, Cab Calloway and Katherine Dunham and thrilled audiences by dancing up a wall and back flipping to the floor in 1943s Orchestra Wives.

Nicholas served in the Army from 1943 to 1944. In 1948, the brothers sang and danced in a command performance for King Edward IV of England. They then toured South America, Asia and Europe in the 50s and 60s and made films including: Bonjour Kathrin in 1956 and Musik im Blut in 1956.

Nicholas returned to the United States starring on every major television variety program and headlining countless stage shows. Nicholas' first dramatic role was in 1970's The Liberation of L.B. Jones. Their tap students include: Janet Jackson, Debbie Allen, and Michael Jackson. The brothers have been honored by the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Nicholas is now touring and lecturing about dance with his wife Katheryn Hopkins Nicholas. His brother, Harold, passed away in 2000. Nicholas passed away on January 24, 2006.

See how Fayard Nicholas is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Fayard Nicholas interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Fayard Nicholas's favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Fayard Nicholas talks about his parents
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Fayard Nicholas lists his siblings and their birth years
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Fayard Nicholas recalls his love of silent films and their stars, especially Harold Lloyd
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Fayard Nicholas talks about his traveling and his demeanor as a child
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Fayard Nicholas talks about getting his education while working in show business
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Fayard Nicholas describes teaching himself and his siblings to dance
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Fayard Nicholas talks about how his parents managed his early career
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Fayard Nicholas recalls the reaction to the early performances of the Nicholas Kids
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Fayard Nicholas recalls playing with Cab Calloway at the Cotton Club beginning in 1932
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Fayard Nicholas describes some of the key components of the Nicholas Brothers' act
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Fayard Nicholas names some performers with whom he shared the bill at the Cotton Club
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Fayard Nicholas describes his experience with segregation at the Cotton Club
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Fayard Nicholas lists some of the films he made in the 1930s
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Fayard Nicholas talks about making 'Kid Millions' in 1934
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Fayard Nicholas talks about his film career from 'Kid Millions' through 'The Big Broadcast of 1936'
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Fayard Nicholas discusses minstrel shows and entertainers in blackface
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Fayard Nicholas explains the Nicholas Brothers' choice of formal dress
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Fayard Nicholas describes working with George Balanchine
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Fayard Nicholas talks about the Nicholas Brother' affiliation with the Dandridge Sisters
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Fayard Nicholas talks about introducing 'Chattanooga Choo-Choo' in the 1941 film 'Sun Valley Serenade'
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Fayard Nicholas talks about his performance in the 1940 film 'Down Argentine Way'
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Fayard Nicholas discusses their use of samba music in their act
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Fayard Nicholas talks about his marriage to Geraldine Pate
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Fayard Nicholas discusses making the 1943 film 'Stormy Weather'
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Fayard Nicholas discusses the dangerous nature of their performances
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Fayard Nicholas recalls his single minor injury
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Fayard Nicholas recalls his brother's marriage to Dorothy Dandridge in 1942
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Fayard Nicholas talks about his Army service during World War II
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Fayard Nicholas discusses the solo work his brother Harold's solo work
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Fayard Nicholas discusses his working relationship with his brother
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Fayard Nicholas talks about his parents
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Fayard Nicholas talks about moving to California
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Fayard Nicholas describes the Nicholas Brothers' 1948 performance for the King and Queen of England
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Fayard Nicholas talks about performing in the 1950s with Count Basie and Billie Holiday
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Fayard Nicholas talks about touring in the segregated southern United States in 1948
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Fayard Nicholas talks about performing with Josephine Baker on Broadway
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Fayard Nicholas discusses the success of the Nicholas Brothers in Europe
  • Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Fayard Nicholas discusses the limited opportunities for African Americans in films during the 1950s
  • Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Fayard Nicholas recalls his American television performances in the 1950s before returning to Europe
  • Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Fayard Nicholas comments on the Civil Rights Movement
  • Tape: 4 Story: 13 - Fayard Nicholas talks about returning to the United States wihtout his brother Harold
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Fayard Nicholas talks about reuniting with his brother in the United States in 1964
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Fayard Nicholas recalls the Nicholas Brothers' affiliation with Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr.
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Fayard Nicholas evaluates the realism of the movie 'Tap'
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Fayard Nicholas talks about Eleanor Powell and Fred Astaire
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Fayard Nicholas talks about the Nicholas Brothers' performances in dramatic roles
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Fayard Nicholas talks about the Academy Awards in 1981
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Fayard Nicholas talks about the athleticism required for the Nicholas Brothers' dancing
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Fayard Nicholas discusses some of the Nicholas Brothers' awards and honors
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Fayard Nicholas discusses his affiliation with Janet and Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5
  • Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Fayard Nicholas talks about popular entertainers incorporating dance
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Fayard Nicholas discusses his hopes for the continued success of African Americans
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Fayard Nicholas describes how he would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Fayard Nicholas explains his youthful nature and outlook
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Fayard Nicholas offers advice to aspiring young dancers