Leonard Reed spent his life between worlds, living and working
in the black entertainment industry, starting at a time when vaudeville
was our most prolific venue.
The T.O.B.A. circuit (Theater Owners Booking Association) was also
know as either "Tough On Black Artists" or "Tough On Black
Leonard was a mix of white, black and Choctaw and looked white.
As a boy (8 to 10 years old) he was already in deep police trouble
when Hugh Oliver Cook took him in. H.O. Cook was a top national educator and was principal (1921-1944) at
Lincoln High School (19th and Tracy building, the building at
was built during Cook's tenure as principal). (See history of LCPA)
Leonard credits Cook with turning him around and making sure he
was educated. At the end of his high school Leonard left Kansas
City to join up with a black entertainment troupe. He never stopped.
In the upcoming decades he was a co-creator of the Goofus, renamed
the Shim Sham, a producer in the world of black entertainment spending
a great deal of career time in Harlem. He produced at the Cotton
Club and was with the Apollo when it was still a vaudeville space
(Hurtig & Seamon). Leonard travelled the world entertaining.
Photo, Copyright Mike Strong
At 97, Leonard Reed died in his sleep in a West Covina,
CA hospital Monday night April 5, 2004 of congestive heart failure.
A celebration of his life was held from 1 to 5 p.m. April 24 at
the City of Angels Church of Religious Science, 5550 Grosvenor Blvd.,
for Links to Information on Leonard and to articles on his death.
Earliest Days in Kansas City
(AUDIO) RealMedia: 28kbps,
Getting in trouble and being taken in by H.O. Cook. From there to
show business forever.