Leonard Reed: Half Black

"As a teenager, [the legendary tap dancer] Leonard Reed got a summer job selling popcorn at the local theatre, where the audience came to see vaudeville revues featuring the latest craze, a dance called the Charleston. Soon Mr Reed was a stylish exponent -- so stylish, indeed, that he took first prize in a Charleston contest at another theatre. It was nearly his undoing. For in those days much of America was racially segregated and Mr Reed [half black, half Choctaw] was formally considered black. But, light-skinned and blue-eyed, he could pass as white, and this was a contest for whites. Rumbled by two usherettes who knew him, he was pursued from the theatre by the manager shouting, 'Catch that nigger!' Only his quick-wittedness in taking up the cry and posing as a pursuer enabled him to escape."

[A keen golfer, also mistaken for white by the Professional Golfers' Association, which issued him a player's card in San Diego in 1951. This led to the abolition of the PGA's all-Caucasian rule (in force since the American PGA's foundation in 1916) and opened the door for such black golfers as Tiger Woods.]

[Leonard Reed once teamed up to form a comedy act with heavyweight prize-fighter Joe Louis.]

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