By the age of three she was dancing, and by age five she was singing in the church choir. By the time she was in junior high school, she was already dancing in nightclubs to which she was escorted by her mother. Pursuing a musical career became so important to Falana that, against her parents’ wishes, she left Germantown High School (Philadelphia) a few months before graduation and moved to New York City.
Her first dancing gig was at “Small’s Paradise” in Harlem. Dinah Washington, the “Queen of Blues”, was influential in fostering Lola’s early career. While dancing in a nightclub, Falana was discovered by Sammy Davis Jr., who gave her a featured role in his 1964 Broadway musical Golden Boy. Lola’s first single, “My Baby”, was recorded for Mercury Records in 1965. Later in her career she recorded under Frank Sinatra’s record label. In the late 1960s Falana was mentored by Davis. In 1966 Davis cast her, along with himself, Ossie Davis, and Cicely Tyson, in her first film role in the film, A Man Called Adam.
Falana became a major star of Italian cinema beginning in 1967. In Italy she learned to speak fluent Italian while starring in three movies, the first of which was considered a spaghetti western. She was known as the “Black Venus”. During this time she was busy touring with Davis as a singer and dancer, making films in Italy, and reprising her role in Golden Boy during its revival in London. (Continue Reading…)