Florence Mills slide show and gallery

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Florence Mills and the Dixie Vamps with Will Vodery & the Plantation Orch., Dover Street to Dixie-from 'The Sketch' (London), 27 June 1923

According to the 2004 biography, Florence Mills: Harlem Jazz Queen by Bill Egan, the above photo is from the 1923 London production of Dover Street to Dixie. Florence Mills is standing in the center, among (says Egan) the Dixie Vamps* and members of Will Vodery’s Plantation Orchestra. Note that she wears the same costume as in the photo below left, which Egan indicates was taken during the run of a 1923 edition of Plantation Revue.

The number performed by Florence Mills and Her Six Dixie Vamps in Plantation Revue, according to IBDb and numerous similar sites, later to be performed by Mills with eight vamps, judging by the count in the above photo, in Dover Street to Dixie, was “Hawaiian Night in Dixie Land.”

Florence Mills as plantation boy in Plantation Revue, 1923-1a1922 Hawaiian Night in Dixieland (Roy Turk and J. Russel Robinson)-1a

(above) left: Florence Mills dressed as a plantation boy for the “Hawaiian Night in Dixieland” number in Plantation Revue, 1923; right: cover of sheet music for “Hawaiian Night in Dixieland,” published in 1922

Lew Leslie’s next Southern-themed production, Dixie to Broadway, didn’t include “Hawaiian Night in Dixieland.” However, the similarly titled “Jungle Nights in Dixieland” was performed by Florence Mills clad in a somewhat more provocative outfit (see below). “Jungle Nights in Dixieland” apparently wasn’t written by the revue’s principal songwriters. Three of them: George W. Meyer, Arthur Johnston, and Roy Turk have been inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, while the fourth, Grant Clarke is listed among the Hall’s “Notable Writers.” The song is not among any of their catalogs, or at least those portions of their catalogs listed in the song lists of their Hall exhibits. I’ve a suspicion that “Jungle Nights” might be a rewrite of the earlier “Hawaiian Night.” In any event, Mills’ performance of the song proved popular enough that the number was retained in the subsequent Lew Leslie revue starring Florence Mills, Blackbirds (of 1926).

Florence Mills, Jungle Nights in Dixieland number-Dixie to Broadway, 1924 (2r)Florence MillsFlorence Mills_feather skirt with curly blonde wig-1-sm

Florence Mills by Edward Steichen for Vanity Fair, 1924Dixie Dreams sheet (Florence Mills, Dixie to Broadway) 1924

(above) left: Florence Mills in overalls costume from the “Dixie Dreams” number of the 1924 revue Dixie to Broadway; the photo by Edward Steichen became a full page portrait in the February 1925 issue of Vanity Fair magazine; right: “Dixie Dreams” sheet music, 1924

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* Internet Broadway Database (IBDb) gives the name of the group performing the number in Plantation Revue as “Florence Mills and Her Six Dixie Vamps.”

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mike Ivers
    Jul 22, 2012 @ 09:54:01

    Great post. Thanks.

    Reply

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