Well, our usual question: how much did you know about the Nicholas Brothers?
That’s the younger Nicholas, Harold, on the left and his older frere (by seven years), Fayard. The two were the most dynamic and athletic dancing act of Hollywood’s Thirties and Forties. The two were widely admired and worked long careers, well into the 1990’s.
It might interest you to know that both brothers went through three wives. Harold’s first is well known to classic movie fans — singer-actress Dorothy Dandridge (below). The union was, by Hollywood standards, a reasonably are lengthy one,running from 1942 to 1951.
On to the answers to our Nicholas Brothers Quiz:
1) Question: The Nicholas Brothers’ routine in the finale of 1943’s Stormy Weather, with the duo dancing on top of a piano, was dubbed by which one of the following as the “greatest movie musical sequence” he had ever seen? a) Sam Goldwyn; b) Dan Dailey; c) Bobby Van; or d) Fred Astaire.
1) Answer: d). It’s well recorded that the great Fred was bowled over by the daring athleticism shown in the Brothers’ dance routine in Stormy Weather. It was, he said, the best he had ever seen. Might be worth checking out for yourselves.
2) Question: What describes what has become known as the dancing style of The Nicholas Brothers? a) Break Dancing; b) Jazz ballet; c) Tiptap dancing; or d) Flash Dancing.
2) Answer: d) Flash Dancing. It certainly was flashy.
3) Question: There is no question that The Nicholas Brothers became international stars. Which of the following did NOT happen during their lengthy career? a) A royal command performance in 1948 for King George VI; b) A retrospective of their movie appearances at the 1981 Academy Awards; c) Dancing for nine different U.S. presidents; or d) Having their movies included in the National Film Registry.
3) Answer: Sorry. Another of our trick questions. ALL options absolutely DID happen.
4) Question: In another stylistic signature move, the duo would a) levitate across the stage; b) leap together 10 feet into their air; c) rise from splits without the use of their hands; or d) all of the above.
4) Answer: c). In a move that would astound fellow dancers, the Nicholses would rise out of splits without using their hands. Go, ahead. You Try it.
5) Question: The Nicholas duo would most often be confined to “specialty numbers” in movies. Any idea why?
5) Answer: The answer is both commercial and racial. The Brothers’ dancing sequences were considered in isolation, specialty numbers that didn’t require being incorporated into the plot of the picture. That also made their scenes easy to edit out of movie screenings in the then segregated South.