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Fayard Nicholas entertainer, dancer, singer, musician, U.S.A.

Fayard Nicholas, 1995

On Sunday, October 16, 1994, Annette Frierson and Armando Alzamora from El Ruiseñor/The Nightingale had the pleasure of visiting Fayard Nicholas and his wife Barbara at their residence at the Motion Picture and Television Village in Woodland Hills, California. The following are excerpts from an interview printed first in El Ruiseñor/The Nightingale and then in the December 1995 Arts Dialogue.

Sitting comfortably in the film projection room, Fayard, with his characteristic smile, told us about the best years of his spectacular career. It is noteworthy to say that Fayard is not only well known only for h is artistic talents, but also for his generous humanitarian deeds. As a Bahá´í he demonstrates his happiness by sharing the principles of the Faith.

Interview and article written by Armando Alzamora
Fayard Nicholas was raised in a very musical household in Philadelphia. He began watching his parents' band from the front row of the theater at the age of three. By the time he was five, he had seen most of the great vau deville acts on the circuit. Dancing is what he paid most attention to-especially the stylish footwork of Bill "Bojangles" Robinson. Fayard taught him self how to dance. He started his tap dancing debut on radio for the Horn and Hardart.

Fayard then began teaching his younger brother, Harold. The "Nicholas Kids" were immediately successful, and began performing in vaudeville. In 1932, they opened at the Cotton Club, headlining with great orchestras like Duke Ellington and Cab Calloway. In 1934, they went to Hollywood to appear in the film "Kid Millions," with Eddie Cantor. This marked the beginning of their film career that spanned fifty-five films in America, in which they performed as actors, singers, dancers and musicians. They also made featured films in England, Spain, Germany, France, Mexico and Italy.

Fayard Nicholas and his brother, Harold, better known as "The Nicholas Brothers", made up one of the most electrifying dancing duos in the history of show business. Often referred to as "The Show Stoppers," Fayard and Harold Nicholas forged an unsurpassed dance style by combining acrobatics with classical tap dancing. Some of their well-known films include: "The Big Broadcast" 1936, "Down Argentine Way" 1940 with Don Ameche and Betty Garble, "Tin Pan Alley" 1940, "The Great American Broadcast" 1941, "Sun Valley Serenade" 1941, "Orchestra Wives" 1942, "Stormy Weather" 1943, with Lena Horne, and "The Pirate" 1948 with Gene Kelly and Judy Garland.

"The Nicholas Brothers",
Harold and Fayard Nicholas

The Nicholas Brothers were the first to incorporate samba music from Brazil into the United States. With the exception of opera, the brothers have performed in every medium of show business. Their Broadway shows include: "Ziegfield Follies of 1936", "Babes in Arms," 1937 and "St. Louis Woman," 1946.

The Nicholas Brothers have been recipients of many awards throughout the years, including The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Emmy, 1965-1966, The ELLIE award from The National Film Society, 1984, The City of Hope Award, 1986, The Josephine Baker Award, 1986, The Ebony Life Achievement Award, 1987, the Tony Award, 1989, and a City of Los Angeles Resoluti on (from Mayor Tom Bradley) in 1991.

In 1948, they gave a Royal Command Performance for the King of Eng land at the London Palladium. They have performed at the White house for three presidents: President Roosevelt in 1942, President Eisenhower in 1955 , and President Reagan in 1987.

After decades of creating dance magic with his brother, Fayard portrayed his first dramatic role as an actor in "The Liberation of L. B. Jones," directed by William Wyler, in 1970.

In 1981, the Nicholas Brothers performed and presented an award at the Academy Award event. On this same program, they were honored with a retrospective of their work in films.

Fayard's ability to kick up his heels was curtailed in 1985 by osteoarthritis. As a result of two hip replacements, he bounced back, doing what he loves best: entertaining.

On June 4, 1989, Fayard Nicholas won a Tony Award for best choreographer for the on-Broadway musical revue "Black and Blue." Christmas 1990 was a first for Fayard to star in a ballet, "The Nutcracker," with the San Diego Ballet Company. On January 10, 1991, Fayard was commissioned by the Japan Satelllite Broadcasting Company to make a documentary film for the American Cinema Awards, to be shown only in Japan, and to benefit the Motion Picture and Television Fund.

Fayard has been a Bahá´í for 27 years and is the spiritual father of many Bahá´í. Some of the charity events Fayard supports include the following: The Danny Thomas St. Jude Hospital, the Jerry Lewis Telethon, the Arthritis Foundation Telethon, the Negro College Fund, the Variety Club Telethon for Children, Drug Abuse, and Special Concern with Plight for the Homeless. 09Fayard also raises funds for the construction of the Los Angeles Dance Gallery and for the Motion Picture and Television Village in Woodland Hills, California, where he and his wife Barbara reside.

Fayard and his brother, Harold, were honored in Washington, D.C., at the Kennedy Center Honors with President and Mrs. Bush in 1991. In 1992 and 1993, a documentary of "The Nicholas Brothers" was on A&E Cable Telev ision, called "We Sing and We Dance." It won the Cable Ace Award on January 14, 1994. Also in 1994, the Nicholas Brothers were honored with a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The Professional Dancers Society honored the Nicholas Brothers, along with Ginger Rogers on February 27, 1994.

Excerpts of an interview with Fayard Nicholas by Armando Alzamora
AA:Do you know anybody in show business who is still in show busi ness doing the same type of talent as the Nicholas Brothers?

FN: Yes, Fred Young Glover who was in a show called Black and Blue, a Broadway review. I was one of the choreographers and I won the Tony Award for the best choreographer. Fred is fabulous, he is really keeping his father's days alive.

AA:When did you meet Michael Jackson?

FN: I met him a long time ago, in the 60s. I did a Jackson Five Five television show titled "Saturday" and they did a number with us. In those days he had all his sisters and brothers. And that's when Janet Jackson was doing her impression of Mae West. I remember she was performing on the show, and I said to my brother, "That little girl has a lot of talent. She's going to be a star one day," never dreaming that she would be a superstar.

Fayard is one of the happiest persons I have ever met. His personality and his success are an inspiration for those who know him.

Excerpts from El Ruiseñor/The Nightingale, Enero/January 1995
Reprinted in the December 1995 Arts Dialogue, pages 6 - 7

  • Artist Profile: Arts Dialogue, December 1995

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