Bee Jackson ~ The Charleston Dancer

Bee Jackson

Bee Jackson was a talented dancer who helped popularize the Charleston.

She was born Beatrice Adelaide Jackson in Brooklyn, New York on January 12, 1903. Her mother Grace was a former actress and her father Fred was a traveling salesman. He later abandoned the family and moved to Texas. Bee started dancing professionally when she was a teenager. She appeared in the Broadway shows The Midnight Rounders and The Whirl of New York. In 1922 she was invited to join the Ziegfeld Follies. The following year she starred in the Shubert musical revue Artists and Models . While dancing in Club Richman in Manhattan she became known for doing a new dance called "The Charleston". Bee went on a vaudeville tour and helped popularize the Charleston throughout the country. Her legs were even insured for one millions dollars! At one point she falsely claimed that she had invented the dance. 

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Bee Jackson Nude
Bee posed nude for Alfred Cheney Johnston

The truth is that the Charleston was invented by black dancers in South Carolina and Bee first saw the dance in a Broadway show. In the Fall of 1925 she traveled to London where she headlined at the first the Kit-Kat Club and the Piccadilly Club. She was briefly engaged to Carl Foreman, a professional swimmer. Flo Ziegfeld cast her in his 1926 Broadway show No Foolin'. Bee embarked on another vaudeville tour in 1928. Then she appeared in the cabaret show at New York's Club Mirador. She continued to perform in nightclubs in London, Vienna, and Berlin. During the summer of 1933 she started rehearsals for a new show in Chicago. Unfortunately she suffered an appendicitis and underwent an emergency operation. There were complications and tragically she died on July 18, 1933. Bee was only thirty years old. She was buried in Glen Cove Cemetery in Narrowsburg, New York.

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