Tom Patricola (January 22, 1891 – January 1, 1950) was an American actor, comic and dancer who starred in vaudeville and motion pictures. Born in New Orleans, Patricola established his fame as a hoofer, becoming a leading interpreter of the The Black Bottom dance.
Besides excelling at eccentric dances, Patricola also sang and played the ukulele. Marketing himself as a novelty act, Patricola was described as a "mop gone crazy" as he danced while simultaneously singing and playing the ukulele. He was also a noted clog dancer, using wooden shoes to beat out a rhythm on the stage.
His fame as a song and dance man was assured by five seasons as a headliner with George White's Scandals, a Broadway musical revue, from 1923-26 and 1928. He was noted for dancing the Black Bottom with Ann Pennington in the 1926 version of Scandals. While employed by George White, Patricola was coached by the African American choreographer Buddy Bradley.
With the advent of the talkies, Fox Film Corp. signed Patricola on as a contract player. He made his movie debut in the comic musical Words and Music (1929), which was the first credited screen appearance of John Wayne (billed as "Duke Morrison"}, but unlike The Duke, he never became a star, let alone a cinematic legend. From 1929-31, he appeared in feature-length musicals and several Spanish-language versions of English-language pictures. After mid-1931, he began appearing in comic shorts made by the Educational Film Corp. of America that were released by Fox.
Patricola made his last short for Educational in 1938. Thereafter, he only made two confirmed appearances in the movies, in uncredited bit parts. He made one final appearance on Broadway in the musical-comedy Hold Your Horses, which ran for 88 performances in 1933. He reportedly appeared in George White's 1932 Broadway revue Music Hall Varieties.
Patricola died on New Year's Day, 1950 in Pasadena, California, after undergoing brain surgery. His sister, Isabella, had a successful career in vaudeville as a singer and violinist. She recorded the song "Somebody Loves Me" in 1924.