Dewey "Pigmeat" Markham

Pigmeat Markham

Pigmeat Markham
Born Dewey Markham
April 18, 1904
Durham, North Carolina, U.S.
Died December 13, 1981 aoremovetag(aged 77)
The Bronx, New York, U.S.
Occupation Comedian, actor, singer, dancer
Years active 1917–1981
Spouse Bernice Markham (m. ?–1981)

Dewey "Pigmeat" Markham (April 18, 1904 – December 13, 1981) was an African-American entertainer. Though best known as a comedian, Markham was also a singer, dancer, and actor. His nickname came from a stage routine, in which he declared himself to be "Sweet Poppa Pigmeat." He was sometimes credited in films as David "Pigmeat" Markham.

Early life and career

He was born in the community of Hayti, Durham, North Carolina. His family was the most prominent on their street, which came to be called (and later officially named) Markham Street in the Hayti District. Markham began his career in traveling music and burlesque shows. For a time he was a member of Bessie Smith's Traveling Revue in the 1920s. Later, he claimed he originated the Truckin' dance which became nationally popular at the start of the 1930s. In the 1940s he started making film appearances. In 1964 he recorded "Open the Door, Richard".

Markham was a familiar act at New York's famed Apollo Theater where he wore blackface makeup and huge painted white lips, despite complaints the vaudeville tradition was degrading. He probably played at the Apollo more frequently than any other performer. Starting in the 1950s Pigmeat Markham began appearing on television, making multiple appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show.


Markham died of a stroke at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx at the age of 77. He is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx.


External links

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