Wilson, Keppel and Betty (Sand Dance 1933)

A lengthy intro but worth reading

Jack Wilson (30 January 1894 – 29 August 1970) was born in Warrington in Lancashire 

Joe Keppel (5 May 1894 – 14 June 1977) was born in County Cork in Ireland

In 1920 the duo travelled to Canada where they toured in a comedy tap dancing act, later also performing in vaudeville venues in the United States. By 1928 they were performing as ‘The Bus Boys’ and in this year Kansas-born chorus girl Betty Knox (Alice Elizabeth Peden, 10 May 1906 – 25 January 1963) joined the act at Des Moines, Iowa

Wilson, Keppel and Betty formed a popular British music hall and vaudeville act in the middle decades of the 20th century. They capitalised on the fashion for Ancient Egyptian imagery following the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun. The “sand dance” that formed the highlight of their act was a parody of postures from Egyptian tomb paintings, combined with references to Arabic costume. The lithe and extremely lanky Wilson and Keppel, who wore long moustaches and make-up to emphasise the sharp angularity of their features and make them appear almost identical, demonstrated their impressive suppleness in adopting wild gestures and dancing in identical “stereo” movements, while Betty joined their antics. The act included a soft-shoe routine performed on a layer of sand spread on the stage to create a rhythmic scratching with their shuffling feet and was usually performed to the familiar Egyptian Ballet (1875), by Alexandre Luigini.

Wilson, Kepple and Betty
Dancing in black and in white
All looking very nice, pretty
All dressed in black and in white

Don Matthews
November 2022

Published by donmatthewspoetry

I just like playing round with words. And having fun

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