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Jeffries, Herb (1911–)

harlem singing bronze screen

JEFFRIES, HERB (1911–). Actor, singer. He is credited on the screen as Herbert Jeffrey, and became known as “The Bronze Buckeroo,” the hard riding, fast shooting hero in a string of black musical Westerns from the late 1930s. The Michigan native began his singing career with a trio as a teenager in Detroit. While performing in a speakeasy, Lewis Armstrong recommended Jeffries to bandleader Erskine Tate at the Savoy Ballroom in Chicago, where he performed for only two nights before being hired away by the Earl Hines Big Band. He also sang with Duke Ellington ’s band. Motivated by the multitude of segregated movie theaters in the 1930s showing mostly white movies, Jeffries set out to produce a black cowboy film to give children who had no hero on the big screen someone to identify with. Born of mixed parentage, the film producers darkened his skin with makeup for his first lead role as singing cowboy Jeff Kincaid in Harlem on the Prairie , 1937. He then worked with another producer on a trio of films, starring as ranch hand Bob Blake, and introducing his trusty horse “Stardusk.” In his later years, Jeffries joined the military service, owned a jazz club in Paris, and earned doctorate degrees in psychology in 1972, and divinity in 1979. He has made guest appearances on television shows such as Hawaii Five-O, The Virginian , and Name of the Game . He is still singing and writing his autobiography, Skin Deep .

Filmography: Harlem on the Prairie , 1937; Two-Gun Man from Harlem , 1938; Harlem Rides the Range , 1938; The Bronze Buckaroo , 1939; Disc Jockey , 1951; Calypso Joe , 1957; Chrome and Hot Leather , 1971; Portrait of a Hitman , 1977.

Jenner, Edward [next] [back] Jeffreys, Sir Alec (John)

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