Vanoye Aikens, usually credited as "Van", was a dark-skinned black American dancer and actor, active in Italian films for a few years in the early 1960's, with a couple of other odd appearances.
He was born on November 27th 1922 in Jonesboro, Georgia, USA. He died on August 24th 2013 in Los Angeles, California, aged 90 (some obituaries state he died aged 96 without giving a birth date, but this seems unlikely).
After dropping out of college for financial reasons, Aikens spent a year in the navy before relocating to New York in 1943. Like Wilbert Bradley, with whom his life shares many parallels, Van began his professional career as a featured dancer in the Katherine Dunham dance troupe following the departure of Archie Savage. As the only male member of the troupe who was able to lift Dunham he became her leading partner and he appeared in many broadway productions with the troupe in the 40's and 50's.
In the 50's he also toured Europe extensively with the troupe, including Italy, where, alongside Bradley, he made his earliest known film appearance in Mambo (1954). It looks like he followed many other black American actors, singers and dancers to Italy at the end of the fifties, where he appeared in a number of films, including substantial roles in a couple of peplums. Unlike Bradley and Savage, it seems that Van did not stay in Italy for very long and he must have been back in America for the filming of I Eat Your Skin in 1964, his last known film appearance.
Various sources say that he later spent some time teaching dance in Sweden then returned to the U.S., where he continued to teach dance well into his 80's (there are videos on You Tube which attest to this).
His life is fairly well documented on the internet (though there is little mention of his brief film career) and his biographical details come from numerous articles and obituaries.
Most of his uncredited roles were identified by me, so it is quite likely there could be a few more to be found.
- Mambo .... Dancer (uncredited)
- La rivolta degli schiavi .... Iface (credited)
- Barabba .... Slave in the sulphur mines (uncredited)
- Giuseppe venduto dai fratelli .... Slave on the hunting expedition (uncredited)
- Gordon, il pirata nero .... Does not appear (credited)
- Il gigante di Metropolis .... Dancer (uncredited)
- Maciste contro il vampiro .... Amahil (credited)
- Tropico di notte .... Dancer (poster credit as "Van Aikins")
- Eva .... Nightclub dancer (credited as "Van Eicken")
- Sodoma e Gomorra .... Dancer (uncredited)
- Cleopatra .... Slave-bearer to Ptolemy and Cleopatra (uncredited)
- I Eat Your Skin .... Robey (credited as "Vanoye Aikens")
Films where Van is credited somewhere online but does not seem to appear. There always has to be one!
- I don giovanni della Costa Azzurra (1962) According to IMDb Van is the man hiding beneath the credited pseudonym "Win Wan Patten" in the role of Lio Pao, but Van does not appear, in fact there are no black actors in the film whatsoever.