by Albert Haim

Steve Z discovered the identity of "Snowball." See


With the real name of "Snowball" available, I was able to gather the following from Don Rayno's Whiteman biography.

In the chronology section, Rayno tells us that Whiteman opened at the Ambassador Theatre in St. Louis on Dec 25, 1926 and closed on Dec 31, 1926. On that day Whiteman hired twelve-year old Edwin Snowball... See More Harris, an African American dancer. On Jan 9. 1927, the Whiteman band opened at the Allen Theatre in Cleveland. One of the local papers reports that Rinker and Crosby put across several familiar songs in a rousing fashion, while Snowball Harris is especially good in his dancing and banjo specialties. On Jan 30 1927, the Whiteman band opened at Castle Farm in Cincinnati. One of the local papers reports, The offering which seems to meet with the most favor is the dancing of the Black Bottom by Snowball who also picks a mean banjo. Rayno writes, On April 6, 1927 Whiteman appears in West Side Court in New York responding to the charge of permitting a minor to perform on stage. The youngster is Edwin Snowball Harris, a ten-year odl African American lad who had been dancing in Lucky and at the Paul Whiteman Club. April 7, 1927: Charges against Whiteman are dropped by Judge John B. Flood when the orchestra leader agrees to send Harris back to his home in St. Louis.
At the court appearance, Whiteman stated that he thought Snowball was 16. It turns out that the proof of age was Snowballs birth certificate of his older brother.

The age of Snowball is given as 10 or 12 in Raynos chronology. The Lewiston Evening Journal tells us Snowball was 10.

Two additional articles.

Decatur Daily Review
April 8, 1927
New York, April S(A.P.) From... See More
the night clubs o£ New York to the
sidewalks of St. Louisthat's the
trip next on the program for "Snowball"
Harris, 14-year old negro and
his banjo.
"Snowball" can't play the banjo
any more lor Paul Whiteman, band
leader, Magistrate Flood in West
Side court has decided, and agreed
to discharge a complaint against
Snowball's portly employer if he
would pay the boy's fare back home
where he was "discovered" and
"Snowball" was making $100 a
week here in a musical show, when
the Children's Society cited the law
against the public performance of a minor.

The Abilene Morning News
April 6, 1927
Whiteman Accused
Of Violating Law
(By Universal Service)
NEW YORK, April 5.Paul
Whiteman, the sultan of Syncopation,
and "Snowball' Harris appeared
in court here today.
"Snowball" is that 10-year-old
negro from St. Louis, who divides
honors with Whiteman in one of
Broadway's musical comedies.
Whiteman is accused of employing
a minor. He said that he employed
the youngster in St. Louis and
there was no law against it there.
He also revealed that he pays
"Snowball" $100 a week for his
banjo and Charleston. The case
was adjourned until Thursday.

One article gives 10, the other 14 for the age of "Snowball." I will look up the US Census in the next day or two.


Posted on Jun 17, 2010, 2:48 PM

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