Leon Hefflin, Sr.
|Born||August 17, 1898|
Dallas, Texas, U.S.
|Died||November 20, 1975|
Los Angeles,California, U.S.
Leon Norman Hefflin, Sr. (August 17, 1898 – November 20, 1975) was an American producer, director, business owner, furniture manufacturer, and entrepreneur. Hefflin produced the first and largest outdoor jazz entertainment event of its kind, the "Cavalcade of Jazz," held at Wrigley Field in Los Angeles, part of the Central Ave jazz scene. It showcased over 125 artists over 15 years.
Leon Hefflin was born in 1898 in Palestine, Texas. His father was a blacksmith and his mother was a cook. His family moved to Los Angeles when he was 2, shortly after the murder of their father. He began technical training in grammar school and found he had a gift for woodworking. He excelled above all other students at 14th Street Intermediate School and his handiwork was entered into the State Exposition in 1915.
Hefflin opened Hefflin Manufacturing Company. He moved his factory four times. Hefflin developed many departments within his factory; dining rooms, living rooms and caskets. Leon was one of the first African-Americans to offer his investors capital stock. Hefflin presented his business plans to the Business League Annual Meeting in Tulsa, Oklahoma (Black Wall Street) in order to expand. He had a factory built and designed by Paul Williams in which he had over 50 employees. Hefflin was listed as one of a few Negro businesses at the time and was valued at $200,000. It was devoted to manufacturing furniture toy making. He eventually lost it at the start of the Depression.
Cavalcade of Jazz
The Cavalcade of Jazz included performances from Toni Harper, Dinah Washington, Roy Milton, Frankie Lane and others. Leon's last concert was held at the Shrine Auditorium on August 3, 1958. He hosted a beauty contest at the events. His first COJ show starred Count Basie, The Honey Drippers, Valaida Snow, Joe Turner, The Peters Sisters, Slim and Bam and more artists on September 23, 1945. He also produced "Sweet N' Hot" featuring Dorothy Dandridge at the Mayan Theatre downtown Los Angeles. In 1940 he presented the Wings Over Jordan chorus in the Hollywood Bowl. The Shrine Auditorium and the Elks auditorium held many of his events. He built and operated the Royal Appomattox Club and owned a 250-room hotel with cafe.
Sweet 'n' Hot
Leon rented the Mayan Theater downtown Los Angeles to produce the "Greatest Negro All Star Musical to Hit Coast". His business partner was Curtis Mosby. The featured performer was Dorothy Dandridge. The show had a run of eleven weeks and was going to New York. It closed to rave reviews. and was covered by 20 newspapers across the country.
- Tom., Reed (1992). The Black music history of Los Angeles, its roots : 50 years in Black music : a classical pictorial history of Los Angeles Black music of the 20's, 30's, 40's, 50's and 60's : photographic essays that define the people, the artistry and their contributions to the wonderful world of entertainment (1st limited ed.). Los Angeles: Black Accent on L.A. Press. ISBN 096329086X. OCLC 28801394.
- "Hefflin Mfg. Co Heads onto Tulsa" Front page article The California Eagle 14 Aug. 1925.
- Work, Monroe N. (1932). Negro Year book An Annual Encyclopedia of the Negro 1931-1932. Alabama: Tuskegee Institute. p. 135.
- Peter, Guralnick (2005). Dream boogie : the triumph of Sam Cooke (1st ed.). New York: Little, Brown. ISBN 0316377945. OCLC 57393650.
- J., O'Connell, Sean (2014). Los Angeles's Central Avenue jazz. Charleston, South Carolina. ISBN 978-1467131308. OCLC 866922945.
- Yarbrough, Bette (1996). Central Avenue--its rise and fall, 1890-c. 1955 : including the musical renaissance of Black Los Angeles. Los Angeles: BEEM Publications. ISBN 0965078302. OCLC 35673638.
- "Negro Revue in 8th Week" "Mayan Revue Performers Create Own Dances" Los Angeles Examiner March 18, 1944.
- "Dorothy Dandridge is What Is Sweetest in 'Sweet 'N Hot" The California Eagle March 23, 1944.
- "Mayan Run Is Now Limited For Big Show-Will Go On Road in Few Weeks to Play Big Cities" by Earl Wright The California Eagle April 6, 1944.
- ""Sweet 'N' Hot" Revamped; Long Run Predicted" by Herman Hill Pittsburgh Courier March 12, 1944