Frankie Manning: 1914-2009, Part 1

Posted on August 27, 2009. Filed under: Entertainment | Tags: , , , , , |

Frankie Manning, Ambassador of Lindy Hop

Frankie Manning, Ambassador of Lindy Hop

Dear readers and listeners:

After a bit of a hiatus, I am back to podcasting! That is the good news. The sad news is that an interview I conducted earlier this year with the legendary Frankie Manning turned out to be his last. Frankie Manning, known and loved all over the world as the “Ambassador of Lindy Hop” passed away just before his 95th birthday this year. I feel extremely fortunate to have had this conversation with him before he fell ill. As a longtime lindy hopper and dancer myself, his words and feelings resonated with me quite deeply, as I’m sure they will with you.

Swing dancer extraordinaire Frankie Manning was a leading dancer at Harlem’s legendary Savoy Ballroom where, in the mid-1930s, he revolutionized the course of the lindy hop with his innovations, including the lindy air step and synchronized ensemble lindy routine.

As a featured dancer and chief choreographer for the spectacular Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers, he performed in numerous films including Hellzapoppin’, and entertained on stages around the world with jazz greats Ethel Waters, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, and Cab Calloway.

Upon the demise of the Swing Era, Frankie took a job in the Post Office, where he worked for thirty years until his rediscovery by a new generation of swing dance enthusiasts in the mid-1980s. Since then, he’s been in constant demand and motion, teaching, choreographing, and performing globally. He won a 1989 Tony Award for his choreography in Black and Blue, and served as a consultant for and performed in Spike Lee’s Malcolm X. Frankie’s activities have been chronicled in hundreds of articles (including features in GQ and People) and dozens of news programs (including a profile on ABC’s 20/20).

Considered the world’s leading authority on the lindy, he is highlighted in Ken Burns’s acclaimed documentary, Jazz. His autobiography, Frankie Manning: Ambassador of Lindy Hop, co-written by Cynthia R. Millman, was published by Temple University Press in spring 2007.

I hope you all will enjoy Frankie’s last interview. Below is part one of my conversation with him. To read more about this amazing man and his lifetime of achievement, visit his web site at

My heart goes out to his family and I know I speak for many many people when I say, he will be missed.

Listen here:

Frankie Manning, Ambassador of Lindy Hop – Part 1

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