Jeni LeGon died Friday at age 96, according to Vancouver journalist James Oakes, who is a neighbour of the woman's partner Frank Clavin.
The American Tap Dance Foundation says LeGon was one of the first African-American women to develop a career as a tap soloist — and she wore pants when all the other female dancers were sporting skirts.
LeGon was born in Chicago and landed her first job in musical theatre at age 13, the start of a career that brought her to Los Angeles, London and New York.
She played several leading roles in films, toured with the U.S. Army and performed in clubs and theatres internationally, performing with stars like dancer Bill Robinson and jazz pianist Fats Waller.
LeGon was described by People magazine in 2005 as a pioneer of Black Hollywood, who "battled frank racism, stereotype-constrained casting and on-set segregation to achieve memorable art and pave the way to put us where we are today."
Also on HuffPost