January 25, 1896 - November 1, 1927
- Florence Mills (born Florence Winfrey) was one of the greatest entertainers and singing, dancing jazz performers
the world has ever seen.
- She was one of the all-time greatest stars of the black theatre, the first black international
female superstar of the Twentieth century and a major figure of the Harlem Renaissance
- Florence Mills was steeped in the traditions of African-based
black music and black dance that gave the world the Spirituals ('sorrow songs'), the Blues,
Ragtime, Jazz and the basis of much of today's popular culture
- She was also a truly lovable, charitable, socially and intellectually aware woman, who
spoke out for the rights of her fellow African Americans.
- Florence Mills is largely forgotten and neglected today, mainly because the primitive recording techniques
of the early twentieth century couldn't capture her remarkable voice, and
she was never filmed, so no record of her performance remains.
- The purpose of this site is to help reclaim for her the status and respect her
remarkable talents and heroic personality warrant, in the eyes of the world and of her
fellow African-Americans, to whom she was so important in the 1920s.
links below to learn about Florence's true greatness, or read The
February is Black History Month!
Florence Mills was a major historic figure
of the entertainment world of her era
She pioneered the way for a succession
of great black divas who followed her in the Blackbirds shows
included Ethel Waters, Elizabeth Welch, Adelaide Hall, Mabel Mercer, Valada
Snow, Minto Cato, and Nina Mae McKinney.
The last in the sequence was
Lena Horne, in Blackbirds of 1939.
Lena was thrilled to be
succeeding the great Florence Mills, saying she had:
myself what a sensitive and cultured woman she was"
Although the crtitics
praised Lena, the show was a flop and soon closed.
Lena kept one of her tunes
from the show in her later repertoire - Here it is:
"You're So Indifferent"
(From her 1955 vinyl album "It's Love")
Can also be seen in film clip from 1943 movie "SWing
Florence Mills Month by Month
Grand Theatre, Fishkill, N.Y. With the Mills Sisters
first linked romantically with Kid Thompson
Tennessee Ten & Kid Thompson in Chicago
Tennessee Ten in Folly Town at
Casino Theatre Philadelphia
in Broadway show Plantation
Revue - First black female !
hometown Harlem at Lafayette Theatre in Plantation
& Kid receive Steinway
Baby Grand at new Harlem home
Revue plays Harlem again at
page portrait appears in Vanity
Fair – first black person ever!
1925 In Dixie
to Broadway at Lyric Theatre,
interview denying play Lulu
Belle is based on her life
British charity concert bill with the great Gracie Fields
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Off topic message
If any of you Florence Mills fans are
interested in chess you may like to check out my other book
The Doeberl Cup: Fifty Years of Australian Chess History