Howard “Sandman” Sims was a legend of the Apollo Theater, chasing the bad acts off the stage after crowds boo’ed their performance. He did his Apollo routine for 17 years. Sims got his nickname “Sandman” from tap dancing on sand in his performances.
Howard Sims is a native of Los Angeles, CA. In 1947, he and a friend went to New York in search of the next phase in entertainment.
Even the Sandman had a tough time on the early Apollo stage at the start of his career. He told some contestants that he had to do his act 10 times before he actually made it all the way through. Once he did, he competed and won 25 times in a row. Because of his big wins, the Apollo changed its winner limit to four times.
He was a legend on the stage, teaching famous dancers like Gregory Hines and Ben Vereen. Sims also helped champion boxers Sugar Ray Robinson and Muhammad Ali build fancy footwork in the ring. Sims himself started off as a boxer, but realized he wouldn’t make it in that profession. His dance steps were sparked from his movement in the rosin box before a boxing match.
Sims was a recipient of a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. With the $5,000 he earned from the fellowship, he taught dance classes to children in a parking lot in Harlem. He was known to have his tap shoes in his back pocket at all times. He couldn’t afford to live off his Apollo earnings, so he worked as a mechanic and carpenter on the side, taught dance and owned a cafe.
During his 17 year-run with the Apollo, Sims also served as the stage manager. For nearly another 15 years, he would sporadically appear after the worst acts, shoo’ing the tough-luck performers off the stage followed by his own vaudeville-style performance.
Howard Sims passed away on May 20, 2003. He was 86 years old.
Watch video of Howard “Sandman” Sims above.
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (6/18-6/24)
25 photos Launch gallery
1. Me & the homie @jaleelwhite #RujohnFoundation Happy to be in Jamaica! Good times
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5. Good Morning. Early day in Detroit! Making press rounds for @thebossnetwork's Ladies That Lead Tour. Thank you @traycemadre and @colourbynumbr for my glam.
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6. POWER the best show on TV @djenvy, Queens we so big out here. #EFFENVODKA #FRIGO
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7. They said u lost a step, wasn't explosive as once was, the best days was in the real view, questioned your drive, your leadership, your commitment, you don't have killer instinct, going back home is the worst mistake in your career, he got the coach fired, players traded, won't work between him and Kyrie, Him and Kev won't work, love your teammates to much, there's no way he can deliver a championship in his hometown, etc etc etc.... But guess what THATS NONE OF MY BUSINESS #StriveForGreatness #ThisOneIsForTheLand #PutSomeRespeckOnMyName Hahahaha!!! Yes sir
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8. Oooooh weeee this man right here is responsible for at least three of our four babies!! #JOE ❤❤❤🎤 #rnb #king #voicelikebutter #ForPeetesSake
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9. Hanging with my @abcnetwork family! @abcunclebuck tonite y'all check us out ! @anthonyanderson @traceeellisross
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10. My broski ( @sayeedshahidi ) and I are on Top 5 Live on @go90 at 5 (which is super duper close)! Make sure to tune in :) #UncleBuck #Blackish
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11. Lights out💤 #GoodNight
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12. Late nights mornings
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13. Ran into the lovely talented @siedahgarrett on this brutiful favvuz deh!
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14. #halal #love #thedargans #kattwilliamsSHOW #mashallah when that Jennah piece HIT!! @sweetjennahcollection glasses by @baddieglamaccessories LIZ 😍 @dynamiteko top @dazzledmv and jeans @thevision414 and shoes: @louboutinworld
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15. Big Hair and Optical Illusions #OceanDrive #MiamiLiving #coverparty
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16. MAMA and THE SAVAGES ... ⚓️ #supportyourlocalgirlgang
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17. From the bottom of my ❤️, thank you new followers & old! & hello fellow night owls! #grateful #racheltrue #naturalhair #curlyhair #curlygirl #healthyhair
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18. I feel so grateful because I met these amazing young minds, visiting from Houston TX, during their college tour stop today at #usc.These students are ALL extraordinary and embody academic excellence so I'm humbled to have shared a few moments with them to applaud and celebrate their bright futures ahead! Thank you @EmergeFellows for inviting me to speak and blessing me with your love and attention this afternoon!
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19. Happy Fathers Day Pops. U taught me how to be a man. Lessons of love, hard work & gratefulness. Sorry the fishing didn't stick. LOL. I Love U!
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20. Sky Zone and Ice Cream! Best Fathers Day Ever!! Photo credit @mariahcarey
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21. Look what finally came in the mail 😎 #mtvmovieawards2016 💥+🌽! #straightouttacompton
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22. Claudia Jordan: ....
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23. 'Member that time I almost knocked a bajillion dollar camera off the car? Really? Yeah, me neither! #Greenleaf Episode 2 comin atcha!
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24. Full of love. #birthday #Cabo
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25. Oh hey! Look who just joined Snapchat
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