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Geraldine Rhodes Kennedy

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Information about Geraldine Rhodes Kennedy

Profile image of Geraldine Rhodes Kennedy

Profession

Category:
ArtMakers
Occupation(s):
Dance Group Manager

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Green
Favorite Food:
Italian Food
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Bermuda
Favorite Quote:
None

Profession

Category:
ArtMakers
Occupation(s):
Dance Group Manager

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Green
Favorite Food:
Italian Food
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Bermuda
Favorite Quote:
None
See how Geraldine Rhodes Kennedy is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Dance group manager Geraldine Rhodes Kennedy was born in 1932 in Union, North Carolina to Viola Williams and Albus Rhodes. Kennedy relocated with her mother and stepfather to Youngstown, Ohio when she was four years old. She was raised in a large family that included eight siblings. Kennedy attended East High School in Youngstown and graduated around 1950.

Following high school, Kennedy moved to New York City to live with her sister Florez. For a time, she worked in a bar, sending her tips to her father in Ohio, who was ill. This bar was frequented by former dancers from the Apollo Theater, many of whom Kennedy befriended. These dancers included Edna “Yak” Taylor, who often told Kennedy fascinating stories about the history and the times of the Apollo dancers.

During the 1970s, Kennedy became interested in doing a benefit for a senior citizens' center and recruited ex-chorus girls to put on a show. Using her connections from her time working with former dancers, Kennedy helped to create a group known as the Swinging Seniors. Kennedy’s nieces comprise the R&B group Sister Sledge, and in 1984 she worked for them briefly as a road manager while they toured Europe. Upon her return, dancer Bertye Lou Wood and Kennedy reunited some of their former dancing friends, Marion Coles, Cleo Hayes, Fay Ray and Elaine Ellis. Kennedy began managing the new dance ensemble. They rehearsed in the building that housed the former Cotton Club, renamed the Latin Quarter, and had their first performance in 1986. This group became known as the Silver Belles, and the group of African American senior dancers have been performing together ever since, appearing on Dan Rather’s 48 Hours and becoming the first group of its kind to perform in Atlantic City. In 2006, the Silver Belles were featured in the documentary Been Rich All My Life produced by filmmaker Heather Lyn MacDonald.

Geraldine Rhodes Kennedy was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on September 20, 2007.

See how Geraldine Rhodes Kennedy is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Geraldine Rhodes Kennedy's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Geraldine Rhodes Kennedy lists her favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Geraldine Rhodes Kennedy describes her earliest childhood memory
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Geraldine Rhodes Kennedy talks about her mother, pt. 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Geraldine Rhodes Kennedy talks about her stepfather's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Geraldine Rhodes Kennedy talks about her mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Geraldine Rhodes Kennedy talks about her father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Geraldine Rhodes Kennedy lists her siblings
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Geraldine Rhodes Kennedy remembers her childhood in Youngstown, Ohio
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Geraldine Rhodes Kennedy describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood in Youngstown, Ohio
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Geraldine Rhodes Kennedy recalls living with her sister in Harlem in New York, New York after graduating from high school in 1956
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Geraldine Rhodes Kennedy remembers working at the Apollo Theater box office
  • Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Geraldine Rhodes Kennedy talks about chorus girls' life in 1950s New York, New York
  • Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Geraldine Rhodes Kennedy recalls racial discrimination that her fellow dancers experienced during United Service Organization tours
  • Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Geraldine Rhodes Kennedy talks about fellow Silver Belles' careers after show business
  • Tape: 1 Story: 16 - Geraldine Rhodes Kennedy talks about establishing a legacy for show dancers
  • Tape: 1 Story: 17 - Geraldine Rhodes Kennedy remembers creating the Silver Belles
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Geraldine Rhodes Kennedy contrasts today's performers with those of the 1950s and 1960s
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Geraldine Rhodes Kennedy contrasts clothing styles of the late 1950s and 1960s with contemporary dress codes
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Geraldine Rhodes Kennedy tells stories about the Silver Belles
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Geraldine Rhodes Kennedy explains the importance of activity for seniors
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Geraldine Rhodes Kennedy describes the Silver Belles' shows
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Geraldine Rhodes Kennedy explains the impact of seniors dancing
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Geraldine Rhodes Kennedy talks about the documentary of the Silver Belles, 'Been Rich All My Life,' pt. 1
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Geraldine Rhodes Kennedy describes the new generation of Silver Belles
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Geraldine Rhodes Kennedy talks about the documentary of the Silver Belles, 'Been Rich All My Life,' pt. 2
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Geraldine Rhodes Kennedy narrates her photographs