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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Tom Patricola (January 22, 1891 – January 1, 1950) was an American actor, comic and dancer who starred in vaudeville and motion pictures. Born in New Orleans, Patricola established his fame as a hoofer, becoming a leading interpreter of the Black Bottom dance.

Besides excelling at eccentric dances, Patricola also sang and played the ukulele.[1] Marketing himself as a novelty act, Patricola was described as a "mop gone crazy" as he danced while simultaneously singing and playing the ukulele. He was also a noted clog dancer.[2]


Tom Patricola & Ann Pennington do the Black Bottom as George White looks on (circa 1926)
Tom Patricola & Ann Pennington do the Black Bottom as George White looks on (circa 1926)

His fame as a song and dance man was assured by five seasons as a headliner with George White's Scandals, a Broadway musical revue, from 1923 to 1926 and 1928. He was noted for dancing the Black Bottom with Ann Pennington in the 1926 version of Scandals.[3] While employed by George White, Patricola was coached by the African American choreographer Buddy Bradley.[2]

With the advent of the talkies, Fox Film Corp. signed Patricola on as a contract player. He made his movie debut in the comic musical Words and Music (1929), which was the first credited screen appearance of John Wayne (billed as "Duke Morrison"), but unlike The Duke, he never became a star, let alone a cinematic legend. From 1929 to 1931, he appeared in feature-length musicals and several Spanish-language versions of English-language pictures. After mid-1931, he began appearing in comic shorts made by the Educational Film Corp. of America that were released by Fox.

Patricola made his last short for Educational in 1938. Thereafter, he only made two confirmed appearances in the movies, in uncredited bit parts. In the more notable of the two, (Rhapsody in Blue, 1945), he recreated the George Gershwin hit "Somebody Loves Me" that he introduced in George White's Scandals of 1924. He made one final appearance on Broadway in the musical-comedy Hold Your Horses, which ran for 88 performances in 1933. He reportedly appeared in George White's 1932 Broadway revue Music Hall Varieties.[1]


Patricola died on New Year's Day, 1950 in Pasadena, California, after undergoing brain surgery. His sister, Isabella, had a successful career in vaudeville as a singer and violinist. She recorded the song "Somebody Loves Me" in 1924.[3]


Year Title Role Notes
1929 Words and Music Hannibal
1929 Happy Days Minstrel Show Performer #3
1929 Married in Hollywood Mahai
1929 Frozen Justice Dancer
1929 South Sea Rose Willie Gump
1930 The Three Sisters Tony
1930 One Mad Kiss Paco
1930 El precio de un beso Paco
1930 Anybody's Woman Eddie Calcio
1931 Children of Dreams Gus Schultz
1941 Louisiana Purchase Cab Driver Uncredited
1942 Secrets of a Co-Ed Minor Role Uncredited
1945 Rhapsody in Blue Tom Uncredited, (final film role)


  1. ^ a b S.D., Trav. "Stars of Vaudeville # 577: Tom Patricola". Travalanche. Retrieved 21 December 2014.
  2. ^ a b Cullen, Frank; et al. (2006). Vaudeville, Old and New: An Encyclopedia of Variety Performers in America. Florence, KY: Routeledge. p. 870. ISBN 978-0415938532.
  3. ^ a b "Tom Patricola". Sonny Watson's Street Swing. Retrieved 21 December 2014.

External links

This page was last edited on 24 June 2021, at 03:28
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