January 25, 1896 - November 1, 1927


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Musical feature

Florence Mills is back on Broadway again, courtesy of the dynamic  Adrienne Warren,  who plays Florence and her predecessor Gertrude Saunders
 in the new Shuffle Along at the Music Box Theatre.
We can't hear Florence today but Gertrude's original Shuffle Along cast recording can be heard. Here she is singing the song that Florence later made her own:
I'm Craving for the Kind of Love
The Music Box Theatre, founded by Irving Berlin for his Music Box Revue shows,  has a  historic link with Florence.
There, in her last days after return to USA in 1927, she was auditioned by Berlin, perhaps hoping to star her in his next show.
  Florence's husband, reminiscing in the 1970s, said:

"See, Florence was sick when she got off the boat from London [September 1927] before she passed up .
  Irving Berlin, Lew Leslie and myself went to the studio to make  a record,  - a test.  . . . I don't know what he did with it.  Never was on for sale, was just a test record."

As the only known formal test pressing of Florence was the lost 1924 "I'm a Little Blackbird", this was presumably more by way of an audition for Berlin.


           Florence Mills: Month by Month
    1900    Goes with local kids to Black Patti (Sissieretta Jones) matinee show in DC
1913    Plays Fairyland Theatre, DC as member of the Mills Sisters
    1915    Plays Howard Theatre DC with partner Ethel "Kinky" Caldwell (Clark)
    1917    In support act for vaudeville great Nora Bayes at New York's 39th St Theatre
Plays Grand Theatre, Chicago with the Panama Trio 
    1920    With Tennessee Ten in hit show Folly Town, along with Bert Lahr &     Jack Haley
1923    First black international female superstar in Dover Street to Dixie at London Pavilion, to royal
    1926    Opens in Blackbirds of 1926  at Les Ambassadeurs, Paris, co-starring with Paul Whiteman
    1927    Featured dancer at Paris dinner to honor Lindbergh after his epoch-making transatlantic flight
    1927    Opens in final London engagement of Blackbirds of 1927 at Strand Theatre

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Off topic message
 If any of you Florence Mills fans are  interested in chess you may like to check out my other book
See: The Doeberl Cup: Fifty Years of Australian Chess History