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Transcript of interview with Herb Jeffries by Cork Procter, May 5, 2009







Herb Jeffries, a renaissance man, loved life and lived it well. A consummate professional, Jeffries excelled as a singer, actor, businessman, and lover of the finer things in life. He appreciated good literature, art, culturally-diverse food selections, freedom, and worthwhile conversation. The pioneering black singing cowboy, was born Umberto Valentino in Detroit, Michigan on September 24, 1913. His career as an entertainer began as a teenager in Chicago, singing with Earl “Fatha” Hines. Next came the movie career and then back to the stage in 1939 with the Duke Ellington Orchestra. By the early 1950s, he had moved to France and opened a popular jazz club in Paris and another in southern France. According to this interview, these clubs drew “beautiful people” from all over the world. Jeffries’ career moved from performances in the American South restricted to tobacco warehouse and black-only movies theatres to starring in numerous movies leading ultimately to a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The most famous of his five wives was Tempest Storm the burlesque star and motion picture actress. Herb Jeffries made his transition, leaving behind his fifth wife, at 100 years of age on May 25, 2014.

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Herb Jeffries oral history interview, 2004 May 05. OH-02246. [Transcript]. Oral History Research Center, Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.


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1 An Interview with Herb Jeffries An Oral History Conducted by Cork Proctor All that Jazz Oral History Project The Oral History Research Center at UNLV Libraries University of Nevada Las Vegas 2 ©All That Jazz Oral History Project University of N