Also known as Cottontail
The Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers group that appears in this soundie was also known as the The Harlem Congaroos. They were the undisputed stars of all the groups of Whitey’s dancers. After completing the filming of Hellzapoppin’, the group had a contract to do a second film for Universal Studios. However, Whitey received an offer for them to perform in Rio de Janiero, Brazil, and decided he did not want his dancers to wait around for a script that was offbeat enough to incorporate the Black dancers. Such scripts had proven to be few and far between in the past. In order to break the contract, Whitey agreed to make this soundie, which was an enormous hit throughout the United States. The bombing of Pearl Harbor took place while the Harlem Congeroos were in Rio, and they were unable to get back home to the United States after their 6-week engagement was over.
They spent 6 months working to make enough money to secure their safe passage back to the USA and finally managed to fly back to Florida, where they arrived with no money in their pockets to make the trip back to New York. In Miami they discovered that the soundie of Hot Chocolates was a big hit and was on every jukebox! They found employment with a nightclub owner who capitalized on the popularity of this soundie by advertising that he had the “Hot Chocolates in Person!”
Duke Ellington Orchestra featuring Ben Webster
Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers (In order of appearance):
William Downes and Frances “Mickey” Jones
Norma Miller and Billy Ricker
Al Minns and Willa Mae Ricker
Ann Johnson and Frankie Manning
*SOUNDIES were short musical filmclips that were played in jukeboxes in the thirties and forties. The device that played them used a mirror. The films were made in reverse and then their mirror images were projected to the viewers.
[The soundie “Hot Chocolates” is available from the Savoy Style Swing Dance Shop in the DVD compilation Jammin’ with the Greats.]
This content was originally written by Judy Pritchett with Frank Manning. Copyright, 1995, 1996, 1997 for the savoystyle.com. It may not be reproduced without written permission. Please use the contact form on this website to get in touch. This Biography is also part of the World Lindy Hop Federation Archives maintained by Keith Hughes.