Flourney Miller was an American vaudeville performer, songwriter, lyricist, and playwright. He was born in Columbia, Tennessee and studied at Fisk University, Nashville. While he was there, he began performing in a comedy duo with his friend, Aubrey Lyles. They moved to Chicago in 1905, where they were hired to be resident playwrights at Pekin Theater Stock Company. Lyles and Miller performed with the company for several years (usually in blackface) and established their stock characters of Sam Peck and Steve Jenkins.
In 1908, Miller established the Bijou Stock Company in Montgomery, Alabama with Marion A. Brooks. It was one of the first black theatre companies in the south, but it was not a success and folded soon after. The following year, Miller and Lyles moved to New York City and began to perform on the vaudeville circuit. They also continued writing and performing plays during this time. Then, in 1921, they found themselves with a huge success on their hands. Their musical Shuffle Along (with music and lyrics by Eubie Blake and Noble Sissle) broke the mould and changed the course of African-American musical theatre performers forever. The show ran in theatres until 1924 and Lyles and Miller continued to write and perform together during and after this time. Shows included Runnin' Wild (1923), Rang Tang (1927), and Keep Shuffling (1928), which featured music by Fats Waller.
Lyles and Miller broke up their double act in 1928, but later reunited to perform on radio. They started to reignite Shuffle Along with a new show entitled Shuffle Along of 1933, but Lyles died in 1932 before they could complete the project. During the 1930s, Miller became increasingly in the film industry and over the next twenty years he wrote and performed in several all-black movies, including Harlem on the Prairie (1937), Harlem Rides the Range (1939), and The Bronze Buckaroo (1939). Miller died in Hollywood in 1971, aged 86.
Miller was posthumously nominated for a Tony Award in 1979 for his contributions to the musical Eubie!.
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