Tap dancer Jimmy Slyde dead at 80

May 18, 2008 at 5:32 PM
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BROCKTON, Mass., May 18 (UPI) -- Jimmy Slyde, a leading U.S. tap dancer during the big-band era, has died in Hanson, Mass. He was 80.

Slyde, known for his smooth dancing moves and engaging personality, died Friday at his home following a period of declining health, Pete Peterson -- a retired drummer and longtime friend of Slyde -- told The New York Times.

Historian Jane Goldberg, who studied with Slyde during the 1980s, said his rhythm tap abilities and impeccable timing were second to none.

"His timing was impeccable," she told the Times. "He was a real purist."

Slyde began performing in the 1940s alongside such band leaders stars as Count Basie, Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington.

Decades later, he brought his tap-dancing skills to the big screen with roles in the films "Tap," "Round Midnight" and "The Cotton Club."

Slyde is survived by his wife, Donna, and his son, Daryl.

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