Monday, August 04, 2008

Cab Calloway and Betty Boop

This week’s video lessons, some old time singing and dancing. Sorry I haven’t had a video class for you in a while, so this will be a long one in order to get all the related videos on. Today we will discuss Cab Calloway, his flying feet and bouncing hair.
I love the old Max Fleisher cartoons. Some of them are much more inventive than the newer cartoons. There is one of Betty Boop’s first appearances in a cartoon.

Oh, I thought Elvis could move, but look at Cab Calloway (and with Betty Boop) How old was Betty supposed to be, anyway? This one has her running away from home because her dad is mean to her and tries to make her eat her dinner. But the intro with Cab dancing - Michael Jackson's moonwalk is nothing compared to Cab's flexible legs.

And you get ghosts with tails. How can you top that? A few years later, in 1934, Cab got his own short movie.

One of his most widely played songs as Minnie the Moocher, here in an old clip.

Fifty years later, here he is in the Blues Brothers, still moving

Back to when he was faster, moving fast – and check out the hair, Little Richard has nothing on Cab either. Reefer Man - back when the movie Reefer Madness came out, extoling the dangers of that horrible drug. The people I know that tried the dangerous weed (what, me? no, come on, how can you say something like that?) moved slower not faster. Perhaps it was a different thing back then.

Moving ahead a few years to 1943, when Cab had a bigger band, from the movie Stormy Weather, he’s still dancing and singing, this has the bouncing Nicholas Brothers – they can move! But those flying splits still look pretty painful to me.

So – there you are, a few rather long clips of Cab Calloway singing and dancing. My favorite is the short intro to the ghosts cartoon – he was so flexible. I could post a bunch more, but spend some time clicking on those little links after the videos are finished and see some of the others, like Jitterbug Party and some more from the early 1930's when he was rather big.

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