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Showtime at the Apollo [Paperback]

Ted Fox
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 1985
For close to 60 years the Apollo Theatre in the heart of Harlem has been one of America's foremost cultural institutions, a top showcase for black entertainers and a launching pad for some of the greatest talents of our time: Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Lionel Hampton, Ella Fitzgerald, Lena Horne, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight, Diana Ross, Dionne Warwick, Sarah Vaughan, and Richard Pryor are just a few. Ted Fox has written a history of the special combination of people and atmosphere at the Apollo; he lets the theatre's stars tell a large part of the story through personal anecdotes, augmented by a splendid array of rare pictures. The author also discusses the evolution of black cultural forms in music and comedy, and in so doing, preserves routines, Apollo trademarks, and backstage lore that might otherwise be lost.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Henry Holt & Co (P) (May 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0030605342
  • ISBN-13: 978-0030605345
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.5 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,908,356 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Ted Fox has brought us back in time when The Apollo Theatre was historically one of the most important theatres in U.S. history. It was a cultural temple unlike any American theatre and could be compared to few others, possibly only the French turn of the century houses which were performer and audience havens of (their) contemporary pulse. Mr. Fox has done his homework in interviews, research and photo archives. He also offers an in-depth and respectful look at the performers, management and audiences, and as importantly - The Apollo building itself as a cornerstone of the Harlem community through wars, riots, celebrations, fads and cultural milestones. As research for Harlem, Black Studies and American musical culture and its etaffect - it is necessay. As a great read it is just great fun.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating Reading 22 May 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
First class read,well written brilliant piece of social history through the eyes of show business.Great insight into the struggle for fame
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5.0 out of 5 stars Hotstuff from Harlem! 22 Feb 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A rivetting read into the history of American black musical and social culture. A must-have for fans of this genre!
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Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  13 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rare and insightful look into one of the most important the 3 July 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Ted Fox has brought us back in time when The Apollo Theatre was historically one of the most important theatres in U.S. history. It was a cultural temple unlike any American theatre and could be compared to few others, possibly only the French turn of the century houses which were performer and audience havens of (their) contemporary pulse. Mr. Fox has done his homework in interviews, research and photo archives. He also offers an in-depth and respectful look at the performers, management and audiences, and as importantly - The Apollo building itself as a cornerstone of the Harlem community through wars, riots, celebrations, fads and cultural milestones. As research for Harlem, Black Studies and American musical culture and its etaffect - it is necessay. As a great read it is just great fun
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Mecca of show business 12 Mar 2004
By The RAWSISTAZ Reviewers - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Have you ever wondered how the Apollo Theatre began? Who was the mastermind behind the Apollo? When did the famous "Amateur Night at the Apollo" begin? The Apollo Theatre is a legend in both the Black and White communities. It was thought by many to be the greatest show business place in the world. If an entertainer could make it at the Apollo, he could make it anywhere. SHOWTIME AT THE APOLLO by Ted Fox is a fine tribute to this legend. Fox traced Apollo's history from the tumultuous beginnings in the 1920's through the heartbreaking decline of the mid-70's and its rebirth in the 1980's. This cultural institution led the way in defining all types of music that changed by decade moving from swing to funk. He also followed the management era when the Apollo was called other names and located at other venues until it came to rest at 125th Street in Harlem with its Jewish owners, the Schiffmans.

Ted Fox gave an excellent history lesson on the life of this musical institution known as the Apollo. This theatre exerted a lot of influence on the entertainment industry over several decades. The Apollo could make or break careers. Some of our most memorable entertainment greats can lay claim to the Apollo being the springboard for their success. Fox was brilliant in his research of past performers by including tidbits of their personal experiences to give the full spectrum of the theatre's growth and the love felt by many. For those of you interested in the makings of this phenomenon called the Apollo Theatre, please read this book. It will entertain and enlighten you. This is a wonderful book to add to your collection on music history.
Reviewed by Brenda M. Lisbon
of The RAWSISTAZ Reviewers
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The story of a legendary music icon. 21 Jan 2014
By Sinohey - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Recently the descriptive "legend" has been bestowed willy-nilly on recipients of ephemeral celebrity and of dubious merit and accomplishment. But the Apollo Theater in Harlem, N.Y. is a genuine legend, equal, and even superior to any music theater in the world.

The Classical Revival style building at 253 West 125th street in Harlem was designed by George Keiser and built in 1913-14 as the Hurtig & Seamon's Burlesque Theater, which had a "Whites Only" policy that was rigorously enforced. By the early 1930s, the place fell into disrepair and closed. Sidney Cohen, who owned several theaters in Harlem, bought and renovated the theater, renaming it "Apollo Theater" that catered to the Black residents of the area.
The "Apollo" faced stiff competition from other music halls, especially Schiffman's "Lafayette" and Brecher's "Harlem Opera House" that booked dynamic acts, such as Bill `Bogangles' Robinson and Louis Armstrong. After Cohen died, Schiffman and Brecher took over the "Apollo" and progressed from vaudeville acts to swing era big bands, comic acts, dance and variety shows.
The theater became a gathering place for the neighborhood; men, women and children would flock to the Apollo, when it opened its doors at 10 AM, and some would stay all day through the night to watch the multiple shows offered. Cartoons and newsreel were usually followed by a full length feature fim. <And at last the master of ceremonies would announce, to the rising applause and screams from the audience: "Ladies and gentlemen, it's showtime at the Apollo!" Ba-ba-boom, the band would break into the Apollo theme song, "I May Be Wrong (But I Think You're Wonderful)," written in 1929 by Harry Sullivan and Harry Ruskin, and the show was rolling >.

"Where stars are born and legends are made" was no idle boast from the "Apollo". A pantheon of future stars, black and white, were launched from its stage; Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Moms Mabley, the Staple Singers, Richard Pryor, Sam Cooke, Harry James, Stan Getz, Dave Brubeck, Stevie Wonder and myriad others performed at the "Apollo". Every Monday evening `Amateur Night' was broadcast on the 12 radio stations and hopeful performers would rub the Tree of Hope stump and later be chased by the "Executioner" or `Porto Rico', if booed by the rowdy audience. Ella Fitzgerald, Thelma Carpenter and Jimi Hendrix were First Prize winners of the competition.
In 1962, James Brown and the Famous Flames, recorded the first `Live at the Apollo'. The album was a hit and a precursor to a series of live recordings by many artists from the "Apollo".

"Showtime at the Apollo " by Ted Fox was originally published in 1983 and went to 3 editions, it has now been revived and has not lost any of its appeal. Fox has written the definitive history of the Apollo theater in Harlem, from its inception as a burlesque venue, reserved exclusively for Whites, to its metamorphosis into an iconic cultural center for African Americans and the entire nation. The author traces the genesis of the theater, the rise of the venue during the "Harlem Renaissance" to its deterioration during the neighborhood's decay by drug infestation, and finally to its rebirth under new ownership in 1980s.
Through personal interviews, first source documentation, photo archives and in-depth research, Ted Fox has written a respectful, honest and unvarnished tribute to what is arguably the greatest music hall in the nation, equal to the venerable "Moulin Rouge" in Paris.

Anyone interested in American music and/or African American history will find this to be a terrific resource and a great addition to any library.

Full disclosure: I was asked by the publisher to review this complimentary EBook.
4.0 out of 5 stars Showtime At The Apollo 5 Mar 2014
By William G. Connolly - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Excellent synopsis of the history of a great theater. From its origins, through the depression to the '80s the theater showcased not only acts, but music. Located in Harlem, it was the theater hosting Black actors, singers, dancers before they were able to break into mainstream or white theaters. It was THE unique theater well ahead of its time and original in its format. The best and greatest white acts begged to get on stage while those growing up in Harlem called that stage "home." Worthwhile reading.
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting bit of history. 18 Feb 2014
By Herb Most - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The background of this theater and it's relationship to the Harlem area was eye opening and very interesting. I now have a better idea of how New York City developed.
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