Thursday, April 22, 2010
Apollo Theater Exhibit | The Smithsonian | Washington, DC
Washington, DC - Michael Jackson's fedora, Ella Fitzgerald's yellow dress and Louis Armstrong's trumpet are together in a Smithsonian exhibit celebrating the famed Apollo Theater that helped these stars to shine. The not-yet-built National Museum of African American History and Culture is bringing New York's Harlem to the nation's capital with the first-ever exhibit focused on the Apollo, where many musical careers were launched. It opens Friday at the National Museum of American History. About 100 items are on view, representing big names from entertainment today and from decades past.
"When I was growing up, the Apollo was for us our Radio City Music Hall — it was the theater to play in our community," said singer and actress Leslie Uggams, 66, who toured the exhibit Tuesday. "From the time I was 9 until about 16, I played the Apollo with some of the great, great stars — Ella (Fitzgerald), Diana (Ross), you name them."
The theater opened originally as a segregated, white burlesque hall in 1914. It was renamed the Apollo in 1928 and was early to integrate as black people migrated to Harlem, making it an African American cultural and political center. It was one of the first places where black performers could speak directly to white audiences, curator Tuliza Fleming said.
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