Harper lent his talents to popular white acts of the time like Fred Astaire and the Marx Brothers and along the way, helped integrate vaudeville. By 1931, Harper had connected with renowned film director Oscar Micheaux for his new production, The Exile, the first all-black talking film of its kind which Harper co-directed with Micheaux.

Leonard Harper died at age 44 but by then he had produced over 2,000 shows for stage and screen. Harper’s grandson, Grant Harper Reid, has followed in his grandfather’s footsteps from his earliest years. As a baby, Reid was declared the Apollo Theater’s “New Years Baby” and was carried onstage by Jackie Wilson. Reid has worked as a location scout and supervisor for several major productions including Fame, Mississippi Burning, Angel Heart and A Chorus Line.

To commemorate his grandfather’s legacy, Reid released Rhythm For Sale, a book that tells the incredible story of his grandfather’s meager beginnings in Alabama to his evolution as a legendary performer, producer and choreographer.

(Photo: Grant Harper Reid collection)

Little Known Black History Fact: Leonard Harper and the Harperettes  was originally published on blackamericaweb.com

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