Leonard Reed, Vaudevillian Who Shim Sham Shimmied, Dead at 97

Obituaries   Leonard Reed, Vaudevillian Who Shim Sham Shimmied, Dead at 97
Leonard Reed, a tap dancer noted for co-creating the "Shim Sham Shimmy" dance routine, died April 5 in California at the age of 97, according to the Associated Press.

With dance partner, Willie Bryant, Mr. Reed "invented the shimmy routine as a flashy finale to their dance act in the late 1920s," the wire service reported.

In the book, "Jazz Dance," Marshall Winslow Stearns and Jean Stearns report that the dance included the double shuffle, crossover, an up-and-back shuffle followed by a move described as "falling off a log."

Mr. Reed was born in Lightning Creek, OK, of black, white and Choctaw descent. He was raised in Kansas City and would dance in contests to eventually rise into vaudeville.

AP reported Mr. Reed paired with Bryant in a vaudeville act they called "Brains as Well as Feet." He also produced shows at the Cotton Club in Chicago and was master of ceremonies for 20 years at the Apollo Theater in New York City. He was also a songwriter, bandleader, record producer (helping boost the career of Dinah Washington) and comedian.

In 2000, he received a lifetime achievement award from the American Music Awards. He also received an honorary doctor of performing arts degree from Oklahoma City University. Survivors are his wife, Barbara; a daughter; a granddaughter; and two great-grandchildren.

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