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Prince Spencer

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.

Accession Number

A2007.319

Sex

Male

Interview Date

11/3/2007

Last Name

Spencer

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Woodward Career Technical High School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Prince

Birth City, State, Country

Jenkinsville

HM ID

SPE05

Favorite Season

Spring

State

South Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination

California

Favorite Quote

It Don't Mean A Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Nevada

Birth Date

10/3/1917

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Las Vegas

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Pig Feet, Black-eyed Peas

Death Date

10/29/2015

Short Description

Dancer Prince Spencer (1917 - 2015 ) was a member of the dance troupe, The Four Step Brothers who appeared in a film with Bob Hope entitled "Here Come the Gals." The troupe toured Europe and performed for the Queen of England. Spencer appeared on the sitcom "Sanford & Son" and in the film "Harlem Nights."

Employment

Four Step Brothers

Major Bowes Dixie Jubilee

Redd Foxx

Food Basket Supermarket

Favorite Color

Brown

DAStories

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