Jerome Robbins Dance Division
- 17 linear feet (38 boxes)
The William Skipper papers include correspondence, manuscript drafts, office files, photographs, and sheet music. The collection traces the evolution of his career from performer to filmmaker. Of special interest are materials relating to Ruth St. Denis and Tallulah Bankhead,which include correspondence and photographs. Among theseimages are snapshots of Bankhead and publicity stills of St. Denis, taken by Marcus Blechman. Other photographs ofnote are snapshots from his time with the Men Dancers at Jacob's Pillow and photos from productions in which Skipper participated . Missing from the collection is information about Skipper's personal life, including earlychildhood material and anything about personal relationships.
Dancer, choreographer, and filmmaker, William "Billy" Skipper (1921-1987) had a varied career. He started as a dancer, performed in several Broadway shows, eventually turned to choreography, and later became a Las Vegas showman, as well as a filmmaker and producer. Following his graduation from high school in Mobile, Alabama in 1939,Skipper became part of Ted Shawn's Men Dancers at Jacob's Pillow and briefly appeared with Jack Cole's group. Billedas Billy Skipper, Jr., he danced on Broadway in Higher andHigher (1940), Panama Hattie (1940), and Banjo Eyes (1941)before joining the Coast Guard in 1942. Upon his discharge,Skipper returned to Broadway, appearing in Annie Get Your Gun (1946) and Lend an Ear (1948). His last Broadway show was the revue, Almost Crazy (1955), which he choreographed. Skipper continued to choreograph for musical theater throughout the United States, worked occasionally in films, and appeared in, directed, or choreographed over 200 television productions. From 1965-1967 he was a member of the faculty of the drama department at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, but left in 1967 to become the director of the Ruth St. Denis Foundation. Although Skipper had won a scholarship to study with Ted Shawn, he was a protégé of Ruth St. Denis, working on a film that documented her choreography, The First Lady of American Dance, and serving as her official and unofficial booking agent over the years. Among Skipper's other notable film projects was a documentary, Tallulah and the Bankheads.
Controlled Access Terms
- Skipper, William.
- Bankhead, Tallulah, 1902-1968 -- Correspondence.
- Bankhead, Tallulah, 1902-1968 -- Photographs.
- St. Denis, Ruth, 1880-1968 -- Correspondence.
- St. Denis, Ruth, 1880-1968 -- Photographs.
- Ted Shawn and His Men Dancers -- Photographs.
- Choreographers -- United States -- 20th century.
- Male dancers -- United States -- 20th century.
- Independent filmmakers -- United States.
- Sheet music.
- Independent filmmakers.
Additional Creator Names
- Bankhead, Tallulah, 1902-1968.
- Blechman, Marcus.
- St. Denis, Ruth, 1880-1968.
- Ted Shawn and His Men Dancers.