Archie Savage

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Archie Savage

Post by PeplumParadise » 08/05/2020, 14:54

Archie Savage in Gungala la vergine della giungla (1967)
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Archie Savage was an American dancer, choreographer, singer and actor active in American films through the 40’s and 50’s and in European films, mostly Italian, from the late 50’s through the 60’s.

He was born on April 19th 1914 in Norfolk, Virginia, USA, and grew up in the Harlem district of New York. He died in Los Angeles on February 14th 2003, at the age of 88. He is buried in Inglewood Park Cemetary in Los Angeles.

He began his career as a professional dancer in his early 20’s with the Helmsley Winfield Dance Troupe, then became a member of the famous Katherine Dunham Dance Troupe in 1939, becoming the dance partner of Ms. Dunham and building a reputation as a choreographer. In the 40’s he formed his own dance troupe, The Archie Savage Dancers, with whom he would appear in stage productions and in a number of films. Today he is regarded as having been a pioneer in the field of African-American dance and as the creator of the Afro/Cuban dance form.

He also appeared in the theatre, both as a dancer and actor, appearing in a nationwide production of Cabin In The Sky in 1940 and on Broadway in many productions including Dance With Your Gods (1934), Macbeth (1936), Dr. Faustus (1937), Haiti (1938), Beggar’s Holiday (1946), Lysistrata (1946) and in the original Broadway production of South Pacific (1949) (he would also appear in the London theatre production and film adaptation).

Unlike the other black American dancer/choreographers who turned up in Italian films from the late 50’s (Wilbert Bradley, Van Aikens), Archie already had a lengthy Hollywood career beforehand. His film career began in Hollywood in the early 40’s, where he alternated between dance roles and choreography in shorts and musicals, stereotypical “native” roles in jungle serials, bit parts in major studio productions and occasional bigger acting roles.

Four of the films Archie was involved with in the 50’s were productions starring Burt Lancaster. From my research it appears that there was a friendship and possibly a sexual relationship between Savage and Lancaster. Savage was never married and I have found several articles that allude to him being gay (and photographs of him certainly give that impression), while FBI documents released in 2000 confirm that Lancaster was definitely bisexual.

In the late 50’s his work took him to Europe, initially to Germany, then to Italy where he remained throughout the 60’s. His roles in Italian films were very varied, he played his share of the native roles that were inescapable for black actors at that time and also played a number of larger acting roles in different genres, but he was equally likely to be found popping up as a generico (and there are very likely further roles of this nature to be found). He was also credited as choreographer in a number of films where he does not appear. Additionally during his time in Italy Archie appeared in at least one fotoromanzo, La Spia dalle Ciglia di Visione, in 1966, as well as performing and recording as part of the gospel vocal group The Folkstudio Singers (named after Harold Bradley’s Folkstudio club).

He returned to America in the 70’s, where he concentrated on choreography and teaching dance.

In his film career he achieved several notable “firsts” for actors of colour, as the first black member of an ensemble cast in a western in Vera Cruz and as the first black man in space in Space-Men.


FILMOGRAPHY
1942
  1. Tales of Manhattan (uncredited) .... Shantytown man

    1943
  2. Cabin in the Sky (uncredited) .... Dancer in Jim Henry's Paradise club

    1944
  3. Broadway Rhythm (uncredited) .... Dancer

    1953
  4. Ramar of the Jungle (TV series, season 1, episode 3: Curse of the Devil Doll) (credited) .... Chief Ratambo
  5. Ramar of the Jungle (TV series, season 1, episode 21: White Man's Magic) (credited) .... Chief Nagula

    1954
  6. Apache (uncredited) .... Cavalryman
  7. Carmen Jones (uncredited) .... Dancer
  8. His Majesty O'Keefe (credited) .... Boogulroo
  9. The Glenn Miller Story (credited with The Archie Savage Dancers) .... Dancer
  10. Vera Cruz (credited) .... Ballard

    1955
  11. Jungle Jim (TV series, season 1, episode 9: White Magic) (uncredited) .... Kmoto
  12. Panther Girl of the Kongo (12-episode serial) (credited) .... Ituri
  13. The Kentuckian (uncredited) .... Singer/Dancer (uncertain appearance)

    1956
  14. Autumn Leaves (uncredited) .... Ticket collector in the theatre
  15. The Ten Commandments (uncredited) .... Ethiopian (uncertain appearance)

    1957
  16. The Garment Jungle (uncredited) .... Elevator operator
  17. This Could be the Night (uncredited) .... Dancer

    1958
  18. Bühne frei für Marika (credited) .... Dancer
  19. South Pacific (credited) .... Ceremonial dance chief

    1959
  20. Europa di notte (credited with The Archie Savage Dancers and as choreographer) .... Dancer
  21. Il figlio del corsaro rosso (credited as choreographer) .... Credit only
  22. La casa delle sette torri (TV movie) (credited) .... Pedro, the negro servant
  23. Lui, lei e il nonno (credited with The Archie Savage Dancers) .... Credit only

    1960
  24. La dolce vita (uncredited) .... Street dancer
  25. Ragazza mia (TV mini series) - episode 1 (credited) .... The negro
  26. Space-Men (credited) .... Al - X-15

    1961
  27. Il ladro di Bagdad (uncredited) .... Courtier

    1962
  28. Boccaccio '70 - segment: "Le tentazioni del dottor Antonio" (uncredited) .... Man with the jazz band
  29. Sodoma e Gomorra (credited as choreographer) .... Credit only
  30. Un branco di vigliacchi (credited) .... Leader of the American liberators

    1964
  31. Anthar l'invincibile (uncredited) .... Bidder at the slave auction
  32. Ercole contro i figli del sole (credited as choreographer) .... Maybe credit only
  33. Il magnifico cornuto (credited as choreographer) .... Credit only
  34. Tarzak contro gli uomini leopardo (credited) .... Tamobu

    1965
  35. Le bambole (credited as choreographer) .... Credit only
  36. Le piccole volpi (TV movie) (credited) .... Cal

    1966
  37. Agente 3S3, massacro al sole (uncredited) .... Dart-blowing henchman
  38. I criminali della galassia (credited as choreographer) .... Dancing crew member
  39. I diafanoidi vengono da Marte (credited as choreographer) .... Archie, a crew member
  40. Il grande colpo dei 7 uomini d'oro (uncredited) .... One of the general's soldiers
  41. Il pianeta errante (credited as choreographer) .... Credit only

    1967
  42. Gungala la vergine della giungla (credited) .... Thao
  43. Da uomo a uomo (credited) .... Vigro

    1969
  44. Cinque figli di cane (credited) .... Jeremiah

    1971
  45. Una stagione all'inferno (credited) .... African medicine man

Additional credits
  • Carnival of Rhythm (1941) as Dancer. Archie's earliest known appearance on film was in this musical short feature.
  • Jammin' the Blues (1943) credited, as Dancer. This is another musical short.
  • Tokende! (1966) Documentary short. Archie appears as himself together with the rest of The Folkstudio Singers.
  • Appunti per un'Orestiade africana (1970) Theatrically-released documentary. Credited, as Singer

More Archie!
There are a few additional titles for Archie, mostly mondo movies where he should appear with his dance troupe, where I have been unable to find images or credits, so if anybody has any of these please fill in the gaps
  • Mobby Jackson (1960) ANICA
  • Baldoria nei Caraibi (1961) ANICA, Mondo movie
  • Tropico di notte (1961) IMDb, Mondo movie, as dancer
  • Le dolci notti (1962) MyMovies.It, as choreographer. Mondo movie, the credits for this one are on You Tube and Archie isn't there, but, given the possible credit below, he could be listed under another name
  • Sexy al neon bis (1962) ANICA, Mondo movie
  • Sexy proibitissimo (1963) IMDb, Mondo movie, as dancer, maybe credited as "The Royal Ballet of the Fiji Islands"
  • Porgy in Wien (1966) IMDb, TV movie
  • The Claw Monsters (1966) IMDb and others, this is a feature-length edit of the 1955 Panther Girl of the Kongo serial.

Less Savage!
There always has to be one!
  • La morte viene dal pianeta Aytin (1967) listed on tvguide.com. Archie does not appear (not even disguised as a snow devil), presumably confused with his appearances in other Margheriti space-operas.

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Re: Archie Savage

Post by PeplumParadise » 08/05/2020, 15:10

Carnival of Rhythm (1941) as Dancer.

In this 18-minute short musical feature Archie danced with his mentor, Katherine Dunham. He can be seen on the left in the publicity shot.
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Re: Archie Savage

Post by PeplumParadise » 08/05/2020, 15:14

Tales of Manhattan (1942) as Shantytown man.

In this major all-star Hollywood production, Archie can be seen briefly in the final segment starring Paul Robeson.
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Re: Archie Savage

Post by PeplumParadise » 08/05/2020, 15:18

Cabin in the Sky (1943) as Dancer in Jim Henry's Paradise club.

Archie had previously toured the country in the theatrical production. Archie's biography in the playbill for South Pacific says he also choreographed the dances in this film.
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Re: Archie Savage

Post by PeplumParadise » 08/05/2020, 15:27

Broadway Rhythm (1944) as Dancer.

Archie dances with Lena Horne in the "Brazilian boogie" number.
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Re: Archie Savage

Post by PeplumParadise » 08/05/2020, 15:34

Jammin' the Blues (1944) credited, as Dancer.

Archie received his first screen credit, partnered dancing with Marie Bryant, in this 10-minute jazz short.
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Re: Archie Savage

Post by PeplumParadise » 08/05/2020, 15:52

Ramar of the Jungle (1953) TV series. Archie appeared, credited, in 2 episodes of the first series of this early TV series, playing 2 different roles, though basically the same, as Native chiefs.

Archie's first proper acting role found him playing the first of many "native" roles, which, along with slaves and maids, must have been pretty demeaning to the actors playing them, but were the bread and butter for black actors who wanted to work regularly outside negro productions and stayed that way until the more-liberal 70's.

Season 1, Episode 3: Curse of the Devil Doll, as Chief Ratambo
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Season 1, Episode 21: White Man's Magic, as Chief Nagula
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Re: Archie Savage

Post by PeplumParadise » 08/05/2020, 15:58

Apache (1954) as Cavalryman.

Archie makes a brief appearance in the first of 4 films with his friend and, maybe, lover, Burt Lancaster. The "flaring" in the image is due to a camera flash having just gone off and not a fault with the print.
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Re: Archie Savage

Post by PeplumParadise » 08/05/2020, 16:04

Carmen Jones (1954) as Dancer.

Archie is seen prominently alongside Pearl Bailey during the "Beat out dat rhythm on a drum" number and can also be seen in the background in the "Stand up and fight" number which follows it.
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Re: Archie Savage

Post by PeplumParadise » 08/05/2020, 16:13

His Majesty O'Keefe (1954) credited, as Boogulroo.

Archie's second role with Burt Lancaster is a far larger credited one, even if it is another of those "Native chief" parts.
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