Known to many as the Queen of Swing, Norma Miller is an author, choreographer, dancer, comedian and actor whose career spans over seven decades. Discovered at the age of twelve by the Savoy Ballroom's legendary dancer Twist Mouth George, Ms. Miller has been in show business ever since.
Honored with a 2003 National Heritage Foundation Fellowship from the National Endowments of the Arts for her role in creating and continuing to preserve "the acrobatic style swing dance, known as the Lindy Hop," Ms. Miller (at a young 87 years of age) continues to be an inspiration to all who know her.
"The NEA's National Heritage Award is a great honor," says Ms. Miller. "It has put me on track to become a film producer and I intend this one should be just the first of many."
Herbert "Whitey" White noticed Norma when she was just 14 years old. Not long after that, Whitey was watching some of his dancers in a contest at the Apollo and once again saw young Norma defeat his dancers. The next day Whitey appeared at Norma's home and told her he would prefer her to dance with him rather than against him. He invited her to join Whitey's Lindy Hoppers.
Norma then Norma Miller was the youngest of Whitey's Lindy Hoppers when she joined the group. She was from the start a very creative dancer with her own often comic style and she possessed an outstanding sense of rhythm. The author of several books, Ms. Miller's latest book, Swing Baby Swing chronicles the evolution of the swing culture into the 21st century. Ms. Miller's biography, Swingin' at the Savoy: A Memoir of a Jazz Dancer, recollects her youthful encounters with Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Ethel Waters and other jazz legends.
Ms. Miller has also been the subject of many documentaries including National Geographic's Jitterbug (1991) and the Smithsonian Jazz series on NPR. In Ken Burn's documentary Jazz (2001), her recollections provide a first hand account of the Harlem music and dance scene in the 1930s and 40s. Ms. Miller's film credits include the Marx Brother's A Day at the Races (1937) and Hellzapoppin (1941); Spike Lee's Malcolm X (1992); Debbie Allen's Stompin' at the Savoy (1992) and John Biffar's Captiva (1995.) In the sixties, she began working with Redd Foxx at his comedy club and later joined him on the 1970's television series, Sanford and Son, serving as a stand up comic, actor and choreographer.
The documentary, Queen of Swing by Florida filmmaker John Biffar, takes an inside look at Norma Miller's influence in the globalization of America's jazz culture and her and her fellow artist's role in racial integration; and features interviews with Bill Cosby and the late Leonard Reed.
A vivacious and outspoken personality Norma continues to travel the world spreading her love of Lindy Hop.