American Vaudeville Museum

All material © 1998-2012 American Museum of Vaudeville, Inc.  Page 23

Buck & Bubbles

1902 —1886

1903— 1955


Both Buck, the short fireplug of a jazz piano player, and Bubbles, the tall, sly tap dancing marvel, deserve equal credit for the act that made them among the top headliners, perhaps the top black act, in white vaudeville. But after their glory days of the 1920s and 1930s, it was Bubbles who became the dominant member of the duo. Perhaps it was because George Gershwin created the role of Sportin’ Life in Porgy & Bess expressly for John Bubbles.

The two partners went separate ways around 1950. Buck, who had recorded and played with big-name jazz musicians since the 1930s, returned to jazz as a pianist and trumpeter.

John Bubbles fashioned a solo career on Bob Hope’s USO tours and TV variety shows. Bubbles is generally regarded as one of a half-dozen best and most significant tap dancers.