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Overview (3)

Born in Fountain Inn, South Carolina, USA
Died in Greenville, South Carolina, USA
Birth NameClayton Bates

Mini Bio (1)

Clayton "Peg Leg" Bates was born and raised in Fountain Inn, South Carolina, in the early 1900s. His parents were sharecroppers. When he was a young child, he would dance for nickels in front of local street audiences. In 1919, Clayton took a job in a farm factory to help his family survive, yet it only lasted a few days when fate struck. He lost his left leg to a cotton gin accident at age 12. Clayton subsequently taught himself to tap dance with a makeshift wooden peg leg from which he took his nickname.

From the 1920s to the 1940s, Peg Leg entertained audiences with his unique brand of tap dancing, traveling all around the US on the Vaudeville circuit. By this time, he had established himself as a world-famous tap dancer, even performing for Queen Elizabeth II. He was landing roles in movies and on TV, especially The Ed Sullivan Show (1948), which was hosted by Ed Sullivan. He was one of the most popular and regular guests of that legendary show, making over 20 fabulous appearances.

In 1951, it was time to settle down and have the world come to him, so Peg Leg and his wife Alice purchased property in the world-renowned Catskill Mountains of New York, where the so-called Borscht Belt of Jewish resorts was located. They established the Peg Leg Bates Country Club, and this made him the first Black resort owner in the US, during a time when racial segregation was still in force. Countless famous musicians, dancers, and performers came to the resort to entertain throughout the 40 years of its operation, which included Ella Fitzgerald, Sammy Davis Jr., Sidney Poitier, Mel Tormé Nat 'King' Cole, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, and Louis Armstrong. In its heyday, it was the summer hot spot, and the performance hall was always a packed house.

In 1987, Peg Leg suffered the loss of his beloved Alice. Shortly thereafter, he gave up the business and was in the care of Melody, his only daughter and her husband.

Peg Leg met filmmaker Tasciotti in 1997, and, along with Gregory Hines, they had been planning out his biography during what was to be the last days of his life, as well as Hines, who died in 2003. Peg Leg traveled to perform at a fund-raiser in 1998 in his hometown of Fountain Inn, South Carolina, and then collapsed on his way to church the next day, December 8, at age 91.

A section of US Route 209 in New York is named in honor of Peg Leg Bates--from Spring Glen to Kingston, the first state capitol. Peter Appleseed went on to renovate Peg Leg's original house on the former resort property and establish the site on the National Historic Registry.

Peg Leg is remembered by those who knew him as a great humanitarian and a kind, compassionate man. There are two definitive documentaries of his life, Hudson West Productions' The Dancing Man (1992) (featuring host Gregory Hines) and Silver Spring Studios' "The Legacy of Peg Leg Bates." There is one children's book about him, "Knockin' on Wood" by Lynne Barasch, which was published in 2006.

An annual award is given in his name to outstanding achievement in dance. The first was awarded to James 'Buster' Brown. Today, Peg Leg remains an entertainment giant in tap dancing and inspires many with his memorable style.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Myster Ey

Spouse (1)

Alice (1944 - 1987) (her death) (1 child)

Trade Mark (1)

His wooden peg leg

Trivia (4)

Tap dancer
Lost his left leg just below the knee in a cotton mill accident at the age of 12. He thereafter became known as Peg Leg.
Whereas tap dancers have two feet to come down upon, Peg Leg had only one foot and the metal tip of his artificial leg on which to land. He had to rethink his method of tap dancing.
Inducted into the International Tap Dance Hall of Fame in 2005.

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