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Queen of Swing Previous Broadcasts

KQED World: Thu, Jul 23, 2015 -- 2:00 AM

Recounts the true story of a Jazz Age trailblazer - 95-year-old entertainer Norma Miller. The engaging biography highlights the life, career and indomitable spirit of the Harlem-born actress, dancer and choreographer known as "The Queen of Swing."
Discovered at the age of 12, Miller's show business career has spanned 7 decades (and counting). Among her many accomplishments, Miller developed the acrobatic "Lindy Hop" dance, appeared in the Marx Brothers' A Day at the Races (1937), took up stand-up comedy at the prompting of Redd Foxx (Sanford and Son), entertained soldiers in Vietnam, worked with Sammy Davis Jr. in Las Vegas, appeared in Richard Pryor specials, and authored two books about swing culture. She also provided a first-hand account of the Harlem music and dance scene during the 1930s and '1940s in Ken Burns' Jazz (2001).
Narrated by actor Bill Cobbs, this program examines Miller's influence in the globalization of America's jazz culture and her role in breaking down racial barriers across the US and around the world. During her career, Miller performed at the integrated Savoy Ballroom in Harlem, staged the first all-black shows on Miami Beach and at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas, and became one of the first black female stand-up comics in the US. 15 years in the making, the film also provides a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the larger-than-life personalities of the jazz era, including Miller's friends Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong and Count Basie.

Repeat Broadcasts:

  • KQED World: Thu, Jul 23, 2015 -- 8:00 AM
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