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John W. Bubbles: Tap & Jazz Legend

Special Collections’ newest small exhibit features items from the John W. Bubbles Papers, MSS 8026.

Born John William Sublett in Louisville, Kentucky on February 19, 1902, John W. Bubbles rose to fame in the vaudeville duo act of “Buck and Bubbles,” tap dancing to Ford L. “Buck” Washington’s piano and voice. “Buck and Bubbles” became one of the first African-American acts to tour integrated vaudeville circuits and to appear on television. Bubbles’ innovative style of improvisatory dance revolutionized the art of tap-dancing, earning Bubbles the nickname of “the father of rhythm tap.” As his career progressed, Bubbles appeared on Broadway, in television, and in films, working with with other performers, such as Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Fred Astaire, and Duke Ellington. This exhibit showcases Bubble’s achievements and popularity in vaudeville, dance, and film throughout his historic and groundbreaking career.

The exhibit, curated by Special Collections’ Winter 2019 cohort, will be on display for February and March in our reference area.


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