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Bryant, Willie (actually, William Steven)

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Bryant, Willie (actually, William Steven), jazz band leader, singer; b. New Orleans, Aug. 30, 1908; d. Los Angeles, Feb. 9, 1964. His family moved to Chicago in 1912. He made a short-lived attempt to play trumpet, then worked as a candy-seller at the Grand Theatre, Chicago. In 1926 he began working as a softshoe dancer in the Whitman Sisters’ Show, did extensive touring throughout the 1920s and into the early 1930s, and also partnered with Leonard Reed in a vaudeville dance act. He had a solo spot in “Chocolate Revue” (1934), and also partnered with Bessie Smith in “Big Fat Ma and Skinny Pa” stage feature. Following a brief spell as vocalist with Buck and Bubbles’ Band, Bryant formed his own big band (late 1934–38). From January 1939 Bryant worked as an actor, master of ceremonies, and disc jockey. He did U.S.O. tours during World War II, re-formed his band 1946–48, then resumed compere work. He moved to Calif, in the 1950s, and dee-jayed programs in San Francisco and Los Angeles. He died of a heart attack in 1964.

Bryars, (Richard) Gavin [next] [back] Bryant, William Cullen - Overview, Personal Life, Career Details, Social and Economic Impact, Chronology: William Cullen Bryant

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