Bill "Bojangles" Robinson (May 25, 1877 – November 25, 1949) was an American tap dancer and actor, the best known and most highly paid African-American entertainer in the first half of the twentieth century. His long career mirrored changes in American entertainment tastes and technology. He started in the age of minstrel shows and moved to vaudeville, Broadway, the recording industry, Hollywood, radio, and television. According to dance critic Marshall Stearns, "Robinson's contribution to tap dance is exact and specific. He brought it up on its toes, dancing upright and swinging", giving tap a "…hitherto-unknown lightness and presence." His signature routine was the Stair Dance, in which Robinson would tap up and down a set of stairs in a rhythmically complex sequence of steps, a routine that he unsuccessfully attempted to patent. Robinson is also credited with having introduced a new word, copasetic, into popular culture, via his repeated use of it in vaudeville and radio appearances.
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