Ask Uncle Sol (1937)

Shorty George Snowden and his partner Big Bea, towering over him, demonstrate the repertoire of fast-paced comedic steps for which they were known. Shorty retired from professional dancing a few years after this film was made because of severe arthritis in his feet.

Dancers:

Shorty George Snowden
Big Bea

When Frankie Manning told the delightful story of how he invented the first airstep in lindy hop, he always described the signature exit step used by Shorty George and Big Bea in the exit of their routine, when Big Bea carries Shorty out on her back. Imagine Manning’s surprise and delight when film collector Mark Kantor unearthed this film from 1937 and asked Frankie if he could identify the dancers. It was none other than Shorty George and Big Bea and now everyone could see where Frankie got his inspiration.

Frankie Manning’s first airstep, inspired by Shorty and Big Bea:

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