Winstead’s Performers

Actors & Singers

Boykin, Arthur, actor, 1933, straight & character 1936

Boykins, Lucill. cast 1936

Bowens, Pearl . cast 1943 [dancer w/ Mattie?]
     or Goings?

Burrell, Rosa. Singer, fire-dancer. 
     Mattie Sloan said she had performed with Silas Green from New Orleans before joining Winstead’s. She believed she was originally from Wilson, NC>

Bryant Sisters. Feature 1943.

Cabbage. Comedian.
    Played role of wench in comedy sketches.

Chief Iron Hand, trick bicyclist, fire eater 1936

Davis, J.C. producer, manager, emcee. 1933, 1934, 1935, 1936

Davis, Vennie. Chorus, actor. 1933, 1933, 1935, 1936

Dennis, Bessie. chorus director 1943

Dixon, Maizel. cas 1936

Earl, W.M. feature 1941, 1947

Green, Joe & wife. trick bicyclists 1936.

Gresham, Kike. comedian, 1935

Foster, Chick. Stage 1933, straight & character 1936

Frazier, Joe. Feature 1941.

Gillens, George. Cast 1936

Gillens, Bobbie. cast 1936

Grant Sisters, acrobatic singers, dancers 1943

Ham. Comedian.
    Mattie Sloan said he was from Chicago: “‘Have mercy!’ he’d say and they would scream. He’d do the ‘Mess Around’ with his arms out, turn the place out,”

Harris, Dee & Louise, dancers 1935
   Dee. stage 1933
   Louise, cast 1936.

Hooks, Shadow. Stage 1936.

Hot Popper. Comedian.
    Mattie Sloan said Hot Popper was from Savannah, Georgia and that he worked at a filling station there during off season.
I don’t know what ever happened to him. He had his wife and two daughters and a boy with him. The baby girl did contortionist, the older one danced on stage with the chorus girls. His wife died suddenly. One girls’s still with a carny, I heard, and the other’s got two or three children. But he was funny. Could make you laugh right off the stage. 

Johnson, Catherine. Chorus dancer, lead.
   “Catherine was a carny,” Mattie Sloan said. “That was working in the side show, and that’s where she came from, on the side show. She wasn’t on the minstrel show.. She came with Bob Young, then she left and came over to our show again with Johnson, a trombone player. I been trying to locate him because they say he still lives. She was a very good chorus girl, beautiful, worked hard. but they all drink, each and every one of ’em drinks. She was a very good chorus girl. She just died last year in Fayetteville.”

Jones, Virginia. 1943 cast; blues singer & correspondent 1935; blues singer 1936.
    According to Mattie Sloan, Virginia and her husband, Willie Jones, were together for 23 years. “He was a young one,” she said. “She called him her son, said she raised him. All them girls got young men like that, and they trained ’em. They had a comedy acto together too, where they’d sing ‘A Good Man is Hard to Find’ and turn the words around.” From Wilson, she sang with the show off and on for most of its duration. After she retired, she became a freelance cook in Fayetteville. “Willie gambled all her money awaym though,” Sloan said, “and he got to where he would’t put the cork onm so Winstead had to fire hin. He ran off to Georgia with this young girl–she made hin go to work on a trash truck. Three months later he was dead. Virginia stepped in front of a car trying to kill herself. Finally died back home in Woilson. But she could sing, though. It’d tear you up to her singing ‘You Going to Need Me.’ She was better that Bessie [Smith], I always thought.

Jones, Willie. Virginia Jones’ spouse. Dancer, comedian, 1936,1943. Stage mgr 1936. [not to be confused with Willie “Ash Can” Jones, a dancer and comedian who worked with Irvin C. Miller’s shows for several years.
Jones, Willie & Virginia =. cast 1936 [bob hayes]

Jones, Theresa. chorus 1935, 1936

Jones, T.H. cast 1936

Kemp, Viola. Chorus, contortionist.
    19XX? VERIFY THIS DATE from Harlem, she’s starring in Sammy Dyer’s show @ Club DeLisa
    1944 Contortionist w/ Jimmy Lunceford
1947 M. to Red Saiunders, perf w/ him Chicago

Keith, Frank. Comedian, 1935

Louis, Joe. Boxer, specialty appearance.
     Mattie Sloan said, “We gave Joe Louis $500 flat one night just to walk across the stage wearing his gloves.” Louis had post cards that she sold for him, “but he never came back the next day to collect the rest of those post cards,” so they continued to sell them as they traveled. 

Lumpkins, Lamar. Comedian. 
    According to Mattie Sloan, he died while the show was in Laurinburg.

Margie, aka “My doll.”
    Winstead’s did not regularly carry acts that would also have gotten work on circus freak shows. Margie, 19, was 20 inches tall and weighed 24 pounds. Mattie Sloan said, “She was with us for about three weeks, her and her mother. Her mother was tiny, too. I made both of ’em’s picture.” 

Markham, Dewey “Pigmeat.” Comedian. 
     Mattie Sloan said: “Pigmeat Markham played with us a while, till he got the money to go to New York. Him and a White man had a team. We sent them to New York the last of ’32. We did a show on the parking lot of the Catholic Church in Greensboro and the priest kept Pigmeat at his house that night and he went to New York the next day.”

Mick, Mickey & Shine, tap dancers.
    Mattie Sloan said, “Mr. Winstead got them some green suits and white shoes. They went through too many women, though.”

Montgomery, Louise. stage 1933, 1935 [bob hayes]

Mullins, Daisy. stage 1933.

Nelson, Mary. cast 1936.

O’Neill, Shakey. stage 1933, comedian 1936

O’Neill, Rose. stage 1933; Chorus 1935, 1936

Pot Likker. Comedian.
     Mattie Sloan said he was a “guy with big shoes” and suspects that he’s one of the dancers in the Grand Finale of “Pitch.” Evelyn Mitchell also recalled his having died while the show was on the road and Winstead having his body sent to Fayetteville for burial.

Randolph & Mary. Tap dancers.
    Mattie Sloan said they were a husband & wife team from Chicago, and that “she had beautiful dimples.”

Robinson, Noah. Stage 1933, comedian 1936

Sarah. Chorus dancer.
     Mattie Sloan said she was a Catholic from Fayetteville: “She was a chorus girl and sold tickets some, too. She smoked them aspirin cigarettes. Joined a carney later. She married on the show in Danville, Virginia, to Brown, a trumpet player with us. He dropped dead getting off a subway.”

Shavers, Alice. cast 1936

Simms, Eva. chorus 1935.

Smith, Bessie. blues singer 1937 [with Winstead’s and two other shows he woned, Backer’s Georgia Minstrels and Irvin C. Miller’s Darktown Follies.

Weinberger, David. Emcee.

Wiggins, Ford. comedian, 1935

Willie. Canvas boy.
    Mattie Sloan said he was from Florida:
He fell asleep on Mr. Winstead’s coat after a poker game one night and he came back hours later, when he discovered it missing, and woke him up. When Willie saw all the money he’d been sleeping on, he started crying. “Why would’t God wke me up?” Winstead just laughed at him, said he was lucky. Willie drowned in the Delaware River. It was awful. The bus choked down on a bridge, and he was on front of it trying to get it fixed, trying to keep it primed. The bus hit the rail of the bridge and it threw him over. We got out and saw him floating down the river. They found his body and we buried him in the next town we came to. He’d gotten in trouble in Florida and had to get out. Mr. Winstead sent his mother some money.

Wright, Mrs. Lilly. stage 1933

Zeke, aka “Little Bit.”Comedian from Durham.





AfAm = Baltimore African-American

$Bk = Sloan’s Salary book 1954

RR = Ragged but Right

OS= Out of Sight

Sloan, Mattie Barber. Telephone interview. Laurinburg, NC. 23 Aug. 1986.