Lola Falana (born Loletha Elaine Falana on September 11, 1942 in Camden, New Jersey) is an American dancer and actress of Cuban and African American descent. Falana's father left Cuba to become a welder in the United States, where he met his wife. Falana spent most of her childhood in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
By the age of three she was dancing, and by age five she was singing in the church choir. By the time she was in junior high school, she was already dancing in nightclubs to which she was escorted by her mother. Pursuing a musical career became so important to Falana that, against her parents' wishes, she left Germantown High School (Philadelphia) a few months before graduation and moved to New York City.
Her first dancing gig was at "Small's Paradise" in Harlem. Dinah Washington, the “Queen of Blues”, was influential in fostering Lola’s early career.