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Prince Spencer

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Information about Prince Spencer

Profile image of Prince Spencer

Profession

Category:
ArtMakers
Occupation(s):
Dancer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Brown
Favorite Food:
Pig Feet, Black-eyed Peas
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
California
Favorite Quote:
It Don't Mean A Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing.

Birthplace

Born:
10/3/1917
Birth Location:
Jenkinsville, South Carolina

Profession

Category:
ArtMakers
Occupation(s):
Dancer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Brown
Favorite Food:
Pig Feet, Black-eyed Peas
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
California
Favorite Quote:
It Don't Mean A Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing.

Birthplace

Born:
10/3/1917
Birth Location:
Jenkinsville
See how Prince Spencer is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Dancer Prince C. Spencer was born on October 3, 1917 in Jenkinsville, South Carolina to Lottie and Bunyon Spencer. Spencer’s family moved from South Carolina to Virginia, then moved to Boston, Massachusetts and finally settled in Toledo, Ohio. In 1941, Spencer joined the dance troupe, The Four Step Brothers, replacing longtime member Sylvester Johnson. The Four Step Brothers was a group of African American tap dancers that originated in the mid-1920s. They performed in several Hollywood films, and by 1946, had performed with Frank Sinatra. That same year, the group embarked on a six month European tour that included performances at the Parisian Le Lido and various other venues throughout Italy and Spain. The Four Step brothers served as trailblazers in the dance world, setting standards in their art and breaking down racial barriers. In almost forty years of performances onstage, in films and television, they danced throughout the world, inspiring others to emulate their tap and acrobatic feats.

The Four Step Brothers appeared uncredited in the 1947 film That’s My Gal. The group returned to the silver screen in 1953, appearing alongside Bob Hope in a film entitled Here Come the Girls. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, the group became frequent guest performers on the "Ed Sullivan Show" and also performed on Jack Benny’s television show. They also toured Europe again in the 1950s, performing for the Queen of England.

The Four Step Brothers were awarded a Life Achievement Award from the Dance Masters of America in 1960. Spencer continued working in Hollywood, playing small roles and collaborating frequently on projects with comedian Redd Foxx. In 1985, the group received an additional life achievement award for helping to break the color barrier, and in 1988, they received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The following year, Spencer appeared as himself in the film Harlem Nights with Eddie Murphy and Richard Pryor.

Prince Spencer was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 3, 2007.

Spencer passed away on October 29, 2015.

See how Prince Spencer is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Prince Spencer's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Prince Spencer lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Prince Spencer describes his mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Prince Spencer remembers his paternal uncles
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Prince Spencer describes his earliest childhood memory
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Prince Spencer recalls moving to Toledo, Ohio
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Prince Spencer lists his siblings
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Prince Spencer remembers his neighborhood in Toledo, Ohio
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Prince Spencer describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Prince Spencer remembers the Hamilton School in Toledo, Ohio
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Prince Spencer remembers his early interest in dance
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Prince Spencer describes the Warren A.M.E. Church in Toledo, Ohio
  • Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Prince Spencer remembers his early influences
  • Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Prince Spencer recalls his introduction to professional dance
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Prince Spencer recalls touring with Ben Bernie
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Prince Spencer remembers dancing with Major Bowes' 'Dixie Jubilee'
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Prince Spencer recalls joining The Four Step Brothers
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Prince Spencer describes his early career with The Four Step Brothers
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Prince Spencer recalls performing with Frank Sinatra
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Prince Spencer remembers touring Europe
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Prince Spencer recalls the changes in The Four Step Brothers' lineup
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Prince Spencer describes The Four Step Brothers' dance style
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Prince Spencer recalls his work with jazz musicians
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Prince Spencer talks about his film appearances
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Prince Spencer remembers Ed Sullivan
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Prince Spencer talks about his career with the Four Step Brothers
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Prince Spencer remembers Sammy Davis, Jr.
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Prince Spencer talks about his wife
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Prince Spencer recalls buying property in Nevada
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Prince Spencer describes his Food Basket supermarket in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Prince Spencer remembers working for Redd Foxx
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Prince Spencer remember Redd Foxx's financial problems
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Prince Spencer remembers the death of Redd Foxx
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Prince Spencer recalls working as a casino host
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Prince Spencer reflects upon the changes in the dance world
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Prince Spencer remembers receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Prince Spencer reflects upon his life
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Prince Spencer describes his hopes for the African American community
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Prince Spencer reflects upon his legacy and message to future generations
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Prince Spencer narrates his photographs