November 28, 2013

Remembering the forgotten man

While you’re watching drill teams and marching bands today, give a thought to the master of synchronized human movement – Busby Berkeley was born 118 years ago tomorrow. (That, btw, was part of his real name: Busby Berkeley William Enos.

His kaleidoscopic dance numbers are deservedly famous, but here’s one from his early days – Gold Diggers of 1933 – which is curiously political.  But the most interesting part for me was the discovery of Etta Moten, a star of the Thirties and Forties whose name I’d never heard before. She, along with Joan Blondell, is one of two featured singers in the number.

Etta Moten was George Gershwin’s personal choice for Bess in Porgy and Bess – he reportedly wrote the character with her in mind. Moten was also the first African-American to perform at the White House (for the Roosevelts). She retired from singing in her early 50s and devoted the rest of her life to civic and cultural causes in Chicago. She died in 2004 at the age of 102.


Leave a Comment »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: