Paul Draper | Larry Adler
“Vastly Entertaining ... Highly Musical ... Very New” “There Show is a Wow!”
Vintage collectible advertising can carry a wealth of interesting information on just one piece of paper. Tap Wonderland has in its collection a publicity flyer advertising a performance by Paul draper, “Tap Dancer Supreme” and Larry Adler, the “World's Greatest Harmonica Virtuoso” at the KRNT Radio Theatre in Des Moines, Iowa, February 18, 1946. Paul Draper was a very special tap dancer who began his career in the 1930's. He is credited with creating a type of dance that combined tap with ballet and became well known dancing with all kinds of music from classical to blues. Beginning in 1941 Draper teamed with the famous harmonica player, Larry Adler. They toured successfully and during the war performed on the USO circuit. After the war, however, both of these fine performers got trapped in the blacklist frenzy in America and neither is widely known today. Here is just one great review from the back of the flyer.
Paul Draper was a self-taught dancer who later studied ballet and explored the possibilities of combining it with tap. He became a successful nightclub performer and also appeared at Carnegie Hall, dancing to Bach, among other composers. Because of the blacklist episode, Draper moved to Switzerland during the 1950's, eventually returned to the US to resume his career and teach. He was a Professor of Theater at Carnegie-Mellon University from 1967 to 1978. We have tracked down only two film performances by Paul Draper. Colleen with Ruby Keeler in 1938 and as the Hoofer in the film adaptation of Saroyan's The Time of Your Life in 1948. Mr. Draper died in 1996
Larry Adler in 2001. There is a typically excellent profile of Larry Adler at the Space Age Pop Music Page. (If you are not familiar with the Space Age Pop web site, you are missing out!) For more information on Paul Draper, I recommend Rusty Frank's book "TAP! The Greatest Tap Stars and Their Stories: 1900 - 1955"
I've seen Draper dance in Colleen and I know Larry Adler's music from several old 78's. I am sure their performances together must have been wonderful and I think this flyer's design is pretty nice, too! You can see a high resolution copy if you like.
— Shinichi Matsumoto