Cast: Eleanor Hines

Feature dancer & Brownskin Model

Eleanor Hines, chorus & feature dancer

Eleanor Hines is featured in the film’s climax, in an exotic kind of fan dance that’s viewed by the dreaming heroes through a key hole while the Rhythm Vets cut loose on the movie’s theme song..

She’s also in each of the Brownskin Models routines, demonstrating clearly what Willie Jones says about her lack of dancing skills. She’s easy to pick out as she glances about trying to match steps with the others.

It’s unfortunate perhaps that the only source for information on  her comes from Jones, who was the show’s stage manager and ultimately no not pleased with her development as a professional performer. He said he hired Hines in Atlanta,  when she was about 16 years old and “dancing in a little small place, jumping around and dancing.” He took her to Miller and he agreed that she was “a very beautiful girl, so we took her.” At first, she was terrific, he said: “She was extra good, she would learn a little of everything. She would learn a little of everything you could do. But she never learned anything good, wouldn’t learn it all the way. She looked good, and she and another girl, Sirilla, they would holler, and that’s why people would look at them, ’cause they would holler. They would holler so loud!”

But in Cincinnati one night, she got moved from the back row of dancers to the front because “one of the girls didn’t come in,” Jones said. “So I took Eleanor out of the back row ’cause she couldn’t dance like the other girls. I put her in the front row. Eleanor got out there and started to hollering and she’s doing her thing, she’d start off with the girls and finish doing something else. Mr. Miller, after that show, he gave me the devil for putting Eleanor up there. And the next show, I put Eleanor back, and the next show, ’cause that was the first show, they’d catch the first show and come back for the second show ’cause they wanted to see how you’d–a lot of times you catch the first show cause everybody’s half tight they want to see a good show and they come back. They saw I’d moved Eleanor and they went to [Miller] and told him they’d took the best dancer out and put her on the back so they can’t see her, and I had to put her back up there. Eleanor was the only one was wrong and they thought that everybody else was wrong–that’s right. Had to put her back up there. “

Jones said, however, that “she got way bigger than me. I’d tell her to do something and it didn’t make any difference, you understand, and I’d have to fine her.”

She, in turn, would appeal the fines to Miller, who’d relent a little–changing a $5 fine to $2 or $3 come payday, which furthered the tension between Hines and Jones, ultimately leading to his knocking her off a platform on which she was posed, just prior to the routine. He finished the story: “When the curtain opened, there was nobody in the center, just the girls on the side.” Miller then fired Jones, who thought he was serious until he was stopped just before leaving to return to New York, whereupon Miller offered this explanation: “Now you know I can’t let you go around hitting the girls and you telling other people about hitting the girls, so I got to do that. I know if you did something, she had to do something mighty bad, for you to do that. Me and you been through too many hard times together, but now you now I couldn’t let you stand up and do that. You’d have ll the musicians hitting the girls and everybody.”

In Baltimore, Jones said, “Some guy took Eleanor.” He didn’t want to talk about her much more after saying, “That big money didn’t do her any good–she started on dope and turned to be a prostitute.”


Jones, Willie. Personal inrteview. Philadelphia, PA. 1986.

–May 5, 2024