James "Stump" Cross

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James Cross is a good example of someone whose name might suit their temperament, Cross as in angry. Various details from his career indicate he might have had plenty to be peeved about. He and partner…
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James Cross is a good example of someone whose name might suit their temperament, Cross as in angry. Various details from his career indicate he might have had plenty to be peeved about. He and partner Harold Cromer, one of the great tap dancers, had a comedy and dance duo called Stump & Stumpy that supposedly might have been all the more popular had they been allowed access to white audiences. Instead, [RoviLink="MN"]Martin

& Lewis[/RoviLink] lifted many of the duo's routines, something that even the self-worshiping Jerry Lewis has admitted to. While the subject is Rat Pack members coming clean, Sammy Davis, Jr. also wrote in one of his autobiographical books that James Cross was the real talent, much more deserving of membership in this exclusive show business club.

Furthermore, Davis has stated that it was only the alcoholic cross Cross carried that kept him from being one of Frank Sinatra's chosen few, a strange comment indeed from someone who eventually had to have several gallons of pure alcohol pumped out of their stomach, concerning a group of performers who seemed to be constantly tipsy. If all this isn't bad enough, some versions of the story of how Dizzy Gillespie's horn got bent blame Cross for falling on top of the trumpet.

Much more detail is available through the film Secret Daughter, directed by daughter June Cross. On record, Stump & Stumpy were involved only briefly through a session for Jay Dee in the '50s. The songwriter and performer Irene Higginbotham created a novelty song entitled "Two Thirds Dead" for the group, the difference between her original sketch and the finished side presenting an example of how spontaneous the world of Stump & Stumpy was. Cross was said to have done his own rewrite of the song prior to recording, but even this is quite different than the finished product, eventually reissued on the Krazy Kat label.