Norma Miller (2009).
December 2, 1919 |
Harlem, New York, U.S.
|Occupation||Actress, dancer, singer|
Norma Miller was born in Harlem, New York, in 1919. When the Great Depression began in 1929, Miller and her family moved to a new apartment that faced the Savoy Ballroom. The Savoy was where Miller began her career as a professional swing dancer.
One day when Miller was 12, she was dancing outside the Savoy and approached by Twist Mouth George, “the greatest dancer at the Savoy” as Miller put it. Twist asked Miller to dance with him at the Savoy.
Later that year, Miller entered the Savoy Lindy Hop Contest, which was held at the Apollo Theater. Miller entered with one of her high school friends. They won the contest. Winning gave Miller recognition and prompted Herbert "Whitey" White to ask her to join his group, Whitey's Lindy Hoppers. The group rose to prominence after winning a contest at the Harvest Moon Ball. Miller and the group performed on Broadway and in several motion pictures.
Miller has written several books, including Me & John Biffar: A Love Story, which chronicles her friendship with filmmaker John Biffar. Another work, Swing, Baby Swing! follows the evolution of swing dance in the 21st century. Swingin at the Savoy: A Memoir of a Jazz Dancer, Miller's autobiography, describes her early life and meetings with the well-known jazz musicians and swing dancers of that time, including Frankie Manning, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, and Count Basie.
In 2003, Miller was given a "National Heritage Fellowship" from the National Endowment for the Arts for creating and continuing to preserve “the acrobatic style swing dance, known as the Lindy Hop”.
Miller appeared in six films and four television series. Her most well-known film appearance is in the swing dancing scene in the film Hellzapoppin', featuring Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers.
|1937||A Day at the Races||Black Singer|
|1977||The Richard Pryor Special||Bar Patron|
|1992||Malcolm X||Roseland Dancer|
TV Show Appearances
|1973-1974||Sanford and Son||Dolly/Roxie/Jackie|
|1977||Sanford Arms||Dolly Wilson|
|1989||Call of the Jitterbug|
|1993||Mo'Funny: Black Comedy in America|
|1996||E! True Hollywood Story|
|2006||Queen of Swing|
|2012||The Savoy King: Chick Webb & the Music That Changed America|
|2013||Moms Mabley: I Got somethin' to Tell You|
|2016||Unsung Hollywood: Eartha Kitt|
- Miller, Norma and Miller Jensen. Swingin’ at the Savoy: The Memoir of a Jazz Dancer. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. Print.
- Miller, Norma. “Queen of Swing.” Wordpress. Web. 11 Nov. 2014
- “NEA National Heritage Fellowships.” National Endowment for the Arts. National Endowment for the Arts. N.d. Web. 20 2014.
- “Norma Miller.” IMDB. N.p. n.d. web. 11 Nov. 2014.
- Queen of Swing. Dir. John Biffar. Perf. Norma Miller, Bill Cosby, BB King, Frankie Manning, and Leonard Reed. 2006. Film
- Norma Miller – The Queen of Swing. Web. 11 Nov. 2014 < http://queenofswing.net/index.html>
- Miller, Norma and Frankie Manning. Interview with Norma Miller and Frankie Manning. Jazz. 1997. Web 15 Nov. 2014
- Call of the Jitterbug. Dir. Tana Ross, Jesper Sorensen, and Vibeke Winding. Perf. Frankie Manning, Norma Miller, Dizzy Gillespie, Mama Lu Parks and Sugar Sullivan-Niles. New York, NY: Filmakers Library, 1989. Film
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