Actor singer Herb Jeffries, the first African-American singing cowboy in movies, has passed away. Author Raymond Strait who is working on the star's autobiography "Color of Love" confirmed the sad news to Los Angeles Times, saying that Jeffries died on Sunday, May 25 in West Hills (Calif.) Hospital and Medical Center because of heart failure.
Jeffries was born Umberto Valentino in Detroit in 1913 to an Irish mother and a father of Sicilian, Ethiopean, French, Italian and Moorish descent. In the 1930s, he appeared in five western movies which had all-black casts, "Harlem on the Prairie", "Two-Gun Man From Harlem", "Rhythm Rodeo", "The Bronze Buckaroo" and "Harlem Rides the Range". During his career, he also took part on some TV shows including "Where's Huddles?" and "Hawaii Five-O".
Jeffries also joined Duke Ellington Orchestra. His popular songs included "Flamingo", "In My Solitude" and "I Got It Bad and That Ain't Good". After serving in the army during the World War II, Jeffries put out some popular hits called "When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano" and "Basin Street Blues ".
He is survived by his wife Savannah, three daughters, two sons, some grandchildren and great-grandchildren.