In the early nineteen sixties, at the height of civil rights activism, a young protester asked Duke Ellington what he was doing for the Civil Rights movement. He said “I did my piece twenty years ago when I wrote Jump for Joy”.
“Jump For Joy” was an all black musical revue. It opened in Los Angeles in 1941. Ellington’s goal: to destroy stereotypical depictions of African-Americans in the theater. In his words, “There was no crying, no moaning, but entertaining, and with social demands as a potent spice. Here he is with his Famous Orchestra, from 1941.
The revue ran for one hundred and twenty-two performances. Ellington later called it “…the hippest thing we ever did.”
Turns out both Charlie Chaplin and Orson Welles had something to do with “Jump for Joy”.
As unofficial consultants, Welles and Chaplin both offered to direct, and stopped by the set to offer advice on occasion.