Bates lost a leg at the age of 12 in a cotton gin accident. He subsequently taught himself to tap dance with a wooden peg leg. His uncle, Wit, made his crude first "peg leg" after returning home from World War I and finding his nephew handicapped.
Bates was a well-known dancer in his day. He performed on The Ed Sullivan Show approximately 58 times, and had two command performances before the King & Queen of England in 1936 and then again in 1938. He retired from the dancing business in 1996.
This made Bates the first black resort owner in Ulster County in the Catskill Mountains, the famous Borscht Belt of Jewish resorts, hotels, and bungalow colonies.
He was also very active in the local Ellenville Lions Club, and during the last ten years of his life he traveled regularly to schools, senior citizen centers, and nursing homes showing a video about his life and talking about his life experiences. He also helped found a local Senior Citizens Center in the Ellenville / Kerhonkson area.
He loved to tell youngsters that they could do anything they wanted. He would say "look at me."
During a USO hospital tour, he partnered with vaudeville tap dancer Dixie Roberts, who said "he danced better with one leg than anyone else could with two."
Bates performed at an award ceremony at Hillcrest High School in his honor for receiving "The Order of the Palmetto." the highest civilian awarded by the state in his hometown of Fountain Inn, South Carolina. He collapsed on his way to church a day later, and died on December 8, 1998, at age 91.
The citizens of Fountain Inn erected a life-size statue that can be viewed in front of the city hall and Robert Quillen's library. There are signs at the entrance of the city saying "Peg Leg Bates' home town."
He was part of the first Louis Armstrong tour of Britain in the mid 50's
PBS made a documentary of his life in the 1980s. The South Carolina ETV made a documentary about Bates in the early 2000s.
U.S. Route 209 in Ulster County, New York has been named the "Clayton Peg Leg Bates Memorial Highway".
He is survived by his only child, daughter, Melodye Bates-Holden and her husband, Preston Holden. They live in Kerhonkson, New York.
Other articles related to "leg, peg, legs, peg leg bates":
... subtle rules of formal cricket (like the leg before wicket rule) are often ignored ... Peg - after the batsman has struck the ball they do not run ... with the stone,while catching the ball in order to run out a batsman.Usually the contact is with legs(like baseball) ...
... Lee Gordon presents Johnnie Ray", featuring Leo De Lyon, The Holly Sisters, Peg Leg Bates, Lola Dee (3rd Australian Tour, 1956) "Lee Gordon presents Nat King Cole" with Lillian Briggs, Marty Allen and Mitch ...
Famous quotes containing the words bates, peg and/or leg:
“A boys best friend is his mother.”
—Joseph Stefano, U.S. screenwriter, and Alfred Hitchcock. Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins)
“I tried to peg out soldierly,no use!
One dies of war like any old disease.”
—Wilfred Owen (18931918)
“Farmers in overalls and wide-brimmed straw hats lounge about the store on hot summer days, when the most common sound is the thump-thump-thump of a hounds leg on the floor as he scratches contentedly. Oldtime hunters say that fleas are a hounds salvation: his constant twisting and clawing in pursuit of the tormentors keeps his joints supple.”
—Administration in the State of Arka, U.S. public relief program (1935-1943)