ARTHUR DUNCAN is an American tap dancer who gained fame as the first African-American performer on the popular Lawrence Welk Show. Duncan danced and sang on the show from 1964 to the show's finale in 1982.
Born in Pasadena, California in 1933, Duncan entered Pasadena City College to study pharmacy, but left school to pursue a career in show business. He never returned to school due to his success as a tap dancer and singer. He toured with the Jimmy Rodgers Show, and had his own television variety show in Australia. After several years of appearances in Europe, Duncan was "discovered" by Lawrence Welk's personal manager, Sam Lutz. After appearing as a guest on the show, Lawrence Welk offered Duncan a permanent spot as a member of his "musical family."
On the weekly Welk show, Arthur Duncan usually had one solo tap dancing performance, accompanied by the Lawrence Welk Orchestra. On most episodes, Duncan also teamed up with fellow dancers Bobby Burgess and Jack Imel to perform popular dance numbers. Arthur had the unique position as the only African-American performer on the show and when racial taboos eased, Duncan performed choral dance numbers with Mary Lou Metzger and Anacani.
Arthur continues performing and is a dedicated mentor and shares his experiences through lecture demonstrations and master tap classes, teaching at various Workshops and Tap Festivals all across America. After the Lawrence Welk Show finale in 1982, Arthur toured in the Broadway show "My One and Only" with Tommy Tune and joined Bob Hope on several tours, performing both at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall. Duncan appeared in several television shows such as Diagnosis Murder, Columbo, The Betty White Show and many more. He also appeared with Red Skelton, Sammy Davis Jr., Gregory Hines, Jerry Lewis, Dick Van Dyke, Lionel Hampton and much more. He was featured in the Challenge scene in the movie TAP (1989) with Harold Nicholas, Jimmy Slyde, Steve Condos, Bunny Briggs, Sandman Sims, Henry LeTang, Gregory Hines and Sammy Davis Jr. Duncan has received the 2004 Flo-Bert Award of Lifetime Achievement of Tap Artistry, in New York City, and the 2005 Living Treasure in American Dance Award from the Oklahoma City University and an honorary doctorate was presented to him in Spring 2008. He also received the Gregory Hines Humanitarian Award from the Gabriella Axelrad Education Foundation for his work with the Inner City Kids’ Non-Profit Dance Program.