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Harlem Madness

Nina Mae McKinney

 

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Nina Mae McKinney
(June 13th 1912 - May 3rd 1967)

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In this unforgettable scene from the 1930 film "They Learned About Women" Nina Mae McKinney steals the show as she sings, scats, & dances her way through "Harlem Madness".

*"Harlem Madness" was composed in 1929 by Milton Ager, with lyrics by Jack Yellen.

Nina Mae McKinney was one of the first African-American film stars in the United States and was also among the first to appear on British television. The actress and singer became so popular with film audiences that she was dubbed the "Brown Clara Bow" and the "Black Garbo." Her scat singing herein (and in other film clips) is clearly influenced by Adelaide Hall's pioneering work on Duke Ellington's 1927 Victor recording, "Creole Love Call". Also, although he does not appear on screen, the unmistakable singing voice of Cliff Edwards is audible for the finale at the end of this sequence.

(This film excerpt was originally presented in Technicolor, but the only surviving copies are black and white.)



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