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Ann Pennington – dancer, actress

September 20, 2015

Ann Pennington, actress, dancer, singer and one of the Ziegfeld Follies and a Broadway star, who was at her most successful during the 1910s and 1920s.

Shake and Quiver

Ann was most famous for her particular dance moves, and was provocatively known as the ‘Shake and Quiver Dancer.’

Ann Pennington – dancer, actress, singer


She also had her own special version of the Black Bottom, and she was also a tap dancer.


She had appeared on Broadway with her dancing and was performing on stage long before she started to appear in both silent and talking pictures.


She learnt dance as a child at the Professor Wroe dance school and although primarily her ambitions had been to act, her talent for dancing meant that her acting took a back seat.

Ann Pennington – Ziegfeld Follies

In 1913 she appeared in the Follies and achieved much success.


She was short in height and had long red hair, although this is probably lost on cinema goers at the time, who were accustomed to seeing her in black and white.


She appeared with Fanny Brice, W. C. Fields and Eddie Cantor during her time with the Follies.Her interpretation of the Black Bottom helped make the African American influenced dance popular nationally at the time, and it overtook the Charleston as the most popular dance.


Although some of her more famous signature moves are no longer available, there’s no shortage of Youtube clips of Ann doing the black bottom and the Charleston.

1920s fashions and Anne Pennington dresses

If you love the 1920s era, the dances, and the clothes that went with it, then you may feel inspired by Pennington’s dance moves and her way of dress.


In the early years her hair is long and loose, in keeping with the look of the time. Later her hair is cut into a loose curly bob in tune with 1920s fashions.

Those dresses

Most of her outfits are skimpy and short, her dresses come with ostrich feather trimmed edges and loose waves, or fringes and feathers.


Sometimes she’s wearing an elegant black strappy dress that wouldn’t be too out of place today.

Ann Pennington – Dancer, actress, singer

While she sometimes wears a more conservative cloche hat and suit with dropped waist line for some of her roles, for the most part her clothes are flirtatious and short.


After all Pennington was most famous for being a dancer and it makes sense that she wore clothes that gave her range of movement.


If you love this era, then there are plenty of 1920s larger than life characters to give you some motivation to go on and try a 20s look – but Ann Pennington’s dances and her twenties flapper look is a real source of inspiration.

Vintage inspired dressing – 1920s style

Her dresses alone could be turned into inspiring 20s tops or skirts, her hair and make-up an inspiration in itself.


The cloche hats and Mary Jane shoes. Just take notes and dress to impress, and you don’t even have to dance – although it looks like it could be fun.


A little Black Bottom or some Charleston never did anyone any harm.


Ann Pennington and Felix the cat

Ann Pennington at her most successful

Ann Pennington with trademark long red hair

Ann Pennington in glamorous pose

Ann Pennington – in a more provocative pose

The dancer

A completely different look – in elegant black dress

Ann Pennington by Hesser – long hair

In full dance garb