Abbott-Wade staircases are fit for any movie star and over the years staircases have been important backdrops in many movie scenes (take our Movie Staircase Quiz). In this scene from the end of the 1942 movie Yankee Doodle Dandy, movie icon James Cagney plays the role of Broadway Showman George M Cohan and shows us how a real movie legend takes the stairs! It goes without staying – Don’t Try This At Home! 

 

This wasn’t the first time audiences were wowed by a movie stars dancing on staircases on the silver screen. While James Cagney’s brief descent of the stairs oozed cool, seven years earlier in 1935, Shirley Temple watching in awe in The Little Colonel as Bill ‘Bojangles’ Robinson tapped his way up and down the stairs with unrivalled flair and talent. This milestone scene marked the first time an interracial couple would dance together onscreen and it was the start of a lifelong friendship between the two stars.

Born in 1878 Bill Robinson was old pro! He’s worked on the stage for many years in an America where life a black performer was far less straight forward than it is today and even volunteered to entertain the troops during WW1. He was a pioneer and to this day remains one of the worlds greatest tap dancers. Here he is back in 1932 performing his famous stair dance.

 

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