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Hollywood's first black singing cowboy Herb Jeffries dies at 100

By Kyle Johnson,

Hollywood's first black, singing movie cowboy Herb Jeffries passed away at the age of 100 on Sunday.

Raymond Strait, who was helping the Bronze Buckaroo star write his autobiography, said that the cause of death was heart failure and he had been in poor health for awhile, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Jeffries became well-known after starring in low-budget fare, such as Harlem Rides the Range and The Bronze Buckaroo. During his movie career, he helped push for all black casts.

Back in 1998, Jeffries explained, "Little children of dark skin -- not just Negroes, but Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, everybody of color - had no heroes in the movies. I was so glad to give them something to identify with."

According to The Hollywood Reporter, he got the idea for all black casts after seeing a Western called The Terror of Tiny Town, which had a cast entirely of little people.

In addition to acting in movies, Jeffries also sang with the Duke Ellington Orchestra in the 1940s and managed to hit it big with the song "Flamingo."

When he returned from serving in World War II, he released a string of hits, including "Basin Street Blues" and "When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano."

 

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