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Ann Marie Williams

Ann Marie Williams was born Annie Marie Ferrell on October 21, 1937, to Lloyd and Izora Ferrell in Coolidge, Texas, in the Sandy Community of Limestone County. She attended the Sandy Community School, Phyllis Wheatley Elementary School in Hubbard, Texas, St. Anthony’s Catholic School, and Lincoln High School in Dallas, Texas, where she graduated in 1955. She was first exposed to the arts in high school. The field trips to the opera, symphony and ballet provided exposure to dance as a profession, and she also took private dance lessons at the YWCA in Dallas.

Williams attended Prairie View A&M University where she received her early training from Barbara Hollis, who was a member of the Katherine Dunham Dance Company. After receiving a degree in health and physical education in 1960 from Prairie View A&M University, she traveled to New York City to study under Arthur Mitchell. Williams, then, returned to Dallas as a dance teacher for the Dallas School System where she met and married her husband, Nathaniel Williams, in 1963. She took additional dance instruction under Edith James, Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey, Charles Weidman and Alvin Ailey. In 1968, Williams was the first African American woman to receive a M.A. degree in dance from Texas Women’s University. She also holds a certificate in arts management from Texas A&M University. Williams was hired to head up the first dance department at Bishop College in Dallas, where she received a $1 million grant to fund the program. She formed the Dallas Black Dance Academy to teach children who no longer had a place to take dance lessons after the funding for continuing education ended at Bishop College. At the coaxing of her staff, Williams also started a dance company. As the popularity of the dance company escalated, in 1976, the Dallas Black Dance Theater was born.

Williams serves on the Board of Directors of the Dallas Opera, Arts District Foundation, TAPER, Dallas Dance Council, the Texas Women’s University Alumnae, Dance USA and the International Association of Blacks in Dance. She has received a number of awards and honors for her support and commitment to the arts. The Dallas Black Dance Theater was commissioned to perform during the 1996 Olympics.

Williams lives in Dallas with her husband of forty-three years, Nathaniel Williams. They are the parents of Angelia Williams, a graduate of Florida A&M University School of Business and Industry.

Accession Number

A2006.086

Sex

Female

Interview Date

5/2/2006

Last Name

Williams

Maker Category
Middle Name

Marie

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

St. Anthony Academy

Phillis Wheatley Elementary School

Lincoln High School

Texas Women's University

Prairie View A&M University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Ann

Birth City, State, Country

Coolidge

HM ID

WIL31

Favorite Season

Fall

Sponsor

Kleberg Foundation

State

Texas

Favorite Vacation Destination

St. Martin

Favorite Quote

Let's Get Moving.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Texas

Interview Description
Birth Date

10/21/1937

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Dallas

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Potatoes

Short Description

Artistic director Ann Marie Williams (1937 - ) founded the Dallas Black Dance Theater in 1976, which, in thirty-two seasons, performed before 1.5 million audience members worldwide.

Employment

Dallas Independent School District

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Brown

Timing Pairs
0,0:4542,101:14718,279:16062,317:18741,334:19263,341:20742,383:23870,426:24605,436:28700,506:32375,556:32900,562:35210,603:36260,615:41221,642:41788,650:42355,659:42679,664:52561,832:52885,837:53290,843:53614,848:54181,857:54586,863:59284,970:59608,975:61957,1020:62362,1026:68262,1066:69574,1089:70066,1096:75436,1153:75831,1159:76384,1168:76700,1173:78912,1233:81756,1304:82625,1316:90538,1401:92410,1429:93138,1437:93762,1444:94386,1466:94802,1471:96986,1515:97610,1522:106200,1635:113235,1758:113970,1766:120102,1864:123419,1932:131092,1974:131484,2014:132268,2024:133640,2039:135110,2068:136188,2081:137168,2092:141676,2150:143734,2182:144224,2188:151330,2309$0,0:1736,16:2232,21:4260,26:5270,39:5775,45:15740,141:17977,157:20906,203:26966,320:32064,367:38824,521:39448,528:41840,566:47897,612:50553,657:52379,696:64444,848:65596,862:66268,870:66652,876:67324,885:67900,892:68476,899:68860,904:84334,1031:85522,1052:86182,1059:87238,1068:88294,1079:95290,1155:98695,1202:99800,1220:100310,1227:101245,1242:101755,1249:102095,1254:103285,1269:103795,1276:106430,1332:106940,1386:107620,1398:108385,1412:108895,1419:113191,1447:114261,1459:118220,1525:133635,1680:134090,1687:141734,1784:144900,1796:145172,1801:145716,1811:146464,1824:146804,1830:149184,1881:151156,1913:151768,1924:155030,1940:155790,1949:156455,1958:157120,1967:167173,2070:169780,2146:173128,2159:174188,2171:175354,2202:193450,2354:194107,2367:198268,2459:198706,2466:199655,2479:200166,2488:201188,2509:206079,2616:218619,2776:219213,2784:220302,2793:220797,2799:225252,2874:225945,2912:226935,2924:229910,2943:232710,2996:233350,3012:235270,3040:236070,3051:236390,3056:239715,3165:240200,3171:241073,3182:241655,3189:242237,3205:243013,3215:252422,3343:255260,3351
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Ann Marie Williams' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Ann Marie Williams lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Ann Marie Williams describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Ann Marie Williams describes her maternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Ann Marie Williams describes her hometown of Coolidge, Texas

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Ann Marie Williams describes her mother

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Ann Marie Williams describes her father

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Ann Marie Williams describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Ann Marie Williams describes her eleven siblings, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Ann Marie Williams describes her eleven siblings, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Ann Marie Williams describes her eleven siblings, pt. 3

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Ann Marie Williams describes the Sandy community of Limestone County, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Ann Marie Williams describes the families of Sandy, Limestone County, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Ann Marie Williams describes Sandy Community School

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Ann Marie Williams recalls attending Phyllis Wheatley High School

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Ann Marie Williams talks about her family's landownership in Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Ann Marie Williams recalls becoming interested in dance at Lincoln High School

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Ann Marie Williams recalls her decision to attend Prairie View Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Ann Marie Williams remembers Prairie View Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Ann Marie Williams recalls teaching dance at a middle school in Dallas, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Ann Marie Williams describes her friends from high school

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Ann Marie Williams recalls her family's involvement in the Masons and the Eastern Stars

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Ann Marie Williams recalls earning her master's degree in dance at Texas Woman's University

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Ann Marie Williams recalls founding the dance department at Bishop College

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Ann Marie Williams remembers founding her dance company

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Ann Marie Williams describes the Dallas Black Dance Theatre style

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Ann Marie Williams describes the Dallas Black Dance Theatre repertory

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Ann Marie Williams remembers being honored in New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Ann Marie Williams describes her community dance school

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Ann Marie Williams describes the company of Dallas Black Dance Theatre

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Ann Marie Williams recalls hiring an administrator after her car accident

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Ann Marie Williams describes Chuck Davis' programs at Dallas Black Dance Theatre

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Ann Marie Williams recalls her dance company's trips abroad

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Ann Marie Williams describes the Dallas Black Dance Theatre

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Ann Marie Williams recalls finding a permanent home for Dallas Black Dance Theatre, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Ann Marie Williams recalls finding a permanent home for Dallas Black Dance Theatre, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Ann Marie Williams describes the renovation of the former Moorland YMCA

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Ann Marie Williams describes the community's support of Dallas Black Dance Theatre

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Ann Marie Williams describes her requirements for members of the Dallas Black Dance Theatre

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Ann Marie Williams talks about the future of Dallas Black Dance Theatre

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Ann Marie Williams recalls advice from Alvin Ailey

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Ann Marie Williams describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Ann Marie Williams narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$3

DAStory

3$8

DATitle
Ann Marie Williams recalls founding the dance department at Bishop College
Ann Marie Williams describes her community dance school
Transcript
Then, after I got my master's [degree] from Texas Woman's University [Denton, Texas], I wanted to go into college then to teach college, so I started teaching at Bishop College [Dallas, Texas]. And they needed a dance teacher. Well, they wanted someone to, to open their dance department there, to head their dance department. And that's what I went in and did and formed a dance department there. And what I found myself doing was just as Nancy Duggan [Anne Schley Duggan], bringing a lot of the, the choreographers and artists in to set works and to teach classes for me, as the head of the dance department, because I had a budget and because they had been friends of mine. So I saw that going on like that. And then as I would bring them in, of course being as head of the dance department, I also had a dance company, so they would work with the dance company that was there at Bishop College that I had formed. And we had a chance to tour, so I'm also. So that kind of got me interested in having your own dance company. Years later, I left Bishop to open then my own dance school because while there, I had to apply for a grant, a major grant from the Ford Foundation [New York, New York] that the university had for bringing cultural arts to the City of Dallas [Texas]. And I worked in conjunction with the other arts organizations on campus there, the music department, the theater department. So we had this million dollar grant coming from the Ford Foundation. And through that we brought in people like Alex Haley, Nina Simone. We brought [HistoryMaker] Maya Angelou in. We brought--she, she came in when she first wrote her book, 'I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,' and we brought Alex Haley in. And from the audience, he had just started working on 'Roots' ['Roots: The Saga of an American Family,' Alex Haley]. And then I was able to bring in the Dance Theatre of Harlem and co-sponsor the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater here through funds that came from the dance fund. So then after the grant ran out, there, we had, we also had a community of continuing education class for kids that I had started there too for community kids. So we had over about fifty kids that were coming in, and we were teaching them evening classes. Some of my dance students were teaching them.$How much of the idea that there was no place where youth to come to learn to dance allowed you to say yes to the school and to the company?$$Company. That, that played a big part; it really did. When, when my one--two teachers came to me and said, "Ms. Ann [HistoryMaker Ann Marie Williams], why don't we form a dance company?" And that was the first thing I told them. I said, "Why don't y'all go and join the Dallas Ballet [Dallas Civic Ballet]?" You know, because I knew that they could. It was an, an all-white ballet company then, and it folded; it is no more. And their thing was yes, we're, we are proficient in ballet technique, but we don't want to do ballet, you know. We don't want to do the Swan Lakes, and the Cinderellas, and the, the Peter Pan. And so, what they wanted to do then was to do their own creation and to do the contemporary, because that, that was really coming into focus in '76 [1976], freestyle movement, as well as avant-garde modern. So, I said, "Okay, let's try that." But I think deep down the meaning was that I remember when I was coming up in Dallas [Texas] and could only take classes on Saturdays at the YMCA [Young Men's Christian Association]. And later on we had a ballet company, and I didn't take classes at the ballet school, but I did later on take classes at Edith James' school [Edith James School of Ballet, Dallas, Texas], which was a private dance school where I really saw then the large dance classroom. At the Y, you know, we were still in a community room where, after we would finish, they probably would play bridge or play checkers or whatever else, you know, they wanted. But really being able to, to know that I could help provide that type of opportunity for minority boys and girls, and that was one of the reasons why even after the first two or three years, how hard it was, I wanted to stick with it, because the goal then became to provide an opportunity for minority boys and girls to have a place to come and take dance classes, and to take disciplined dance classes. We had the street dances, and you had all the social dances. But our kids had not had formal training and neither had many of them ever seen a black professional dancer. And, and that was one of the things that I thought. If, if I could provide that, and this is where it has come to.$$The classes, anyone could come to the classes?$$Yes, that--it was a fee. We, we had its, its--there, there were like ballet classes, tap classes, jazz classes, modern classes, but it operated at a school. I did operate it as a business, so there was a class fee, a monthly class fee that was very low, range--I remember the very--class fee we started out with was like fifteen dollars a month. And you know, you'd come and take one class a week, so every Saturday we had lots of kids there. And, and in the evenings was when the company [Dallas Black Dance Theatre], through the week, was when the company would rehearse. A lot of my dancers at that time were, were students at the arts magnet performing arts school [Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, Dallas, Texas], which later was right across the street from the studio before we moved over here. And they, after school at 4:00, where they came across, and at 4:30 or 5, from 5 to 9, then we rehearsed as a company.

Marjorie Witt Johnson

Dancer, social worker, dance instructor and daughter of a Buffalo Soldier, Marjorie Witt Johnson was born on March 18, 1910 in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Her father, William Henry Brown Witt, served in the United States 10th Cavalry under Colonel Charles Young at Fort D.A. Russell. Growing up, Johnson lived in Taylorville and attended Corllett School. Johnson transferred to Churchill School, Cheyenne Junior High School and graduated from Cheyenne High School in 1929. That summer Johnson’s mother, Pearl Melvina Pryor, took her to New York City where she saw her uncle Hayes Pryor perform with the Lafayette Players. High School history teacher, Eldridge Hubbard helped her gain admission into Oberlin College in 1930. Her education was donated by Cheyenne’s Women’s Club and the Searchlight Club. At Oberlin, Johnson was introduced to modern dance by Margery Schneider, and she was influenced by the work of Ruth St. Denis and Martha Graham.

Graduating from Oberlin with a B.S. degree in social work in 1935, Johnson served as a dance counselor for Camp Chippewa where she developed a talent for working with inner city girls. She formed a group called the Playhouse Settlement Dance Group. Eventually they became the Karamu Dancers as part of Karamu House. The group gained notoriety and was selected to perform at the 1940 World’s Fair in New York City. Johnson, building on Grace Coyle’s study, Democracy and Group Work, taught the girls modern dance by incorporating their own life experiences with oral history and music. Among her notable dance works are “Barbeque,” “Tea Time,” “Braham’s Rhapsody in G Minor,” “The Sermon,” and the underground railroad play, From House to House, which was performed in Nigeria as Lati Ile’ si Ile’. Two of her notable students are Royce Wallace and Roger Mae Johnson. In Atlanta, Johnson inspired Morehouse College student body president, Michael Babatunde Olatunji to play his drums in public.

Johnson has been celebrated by the City of Cleveland and numerous other organizations for her more than 70 years of service in promoting arts in education. Recently, Karamu House showcased Daughter of a Buffalo Soldier, which was directed and choreographed by Dianne McIntyre.

Johnson, who was married to the late actor, Bill Johnson, has a daughter and is still active as a community activist, role model and innovator in Cleveland. She is the author of the book, Moving Images of Courage. Johnson passed away on July 19, 2007.

Johnson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 22, 2006.

Accession Number

A2006.048

Sex

Female

Interview Date

3/22/2006

Last Name

Johnson

Maker Category
Middle Name

Witt

Organizations
Schools

Cheyenne High School

Corlett School

Churchill Public School

Cheyenne Junior High School

Oberlin College

Case Western Reserve University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Marjorie

Birth City, State, Country

Cheyenne

HM ID

JOH17

Favorite Season

April

State

Wyoming

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Ohio

Interview Description
Birth Date

3/18/1910

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Cleveland

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Fruit

Death Date

7/19/2007

Short Description

Dance instructor and dancer Marjorie Witt Johnson (1910 - 2007 ) formed a dance group that became part of Karamu House. Johnson has been celebrated by the City of Cleveland and numerous organizations for her more than 70 years of service in promoting arts in education.

Employment

Karamu House

Bellefaire Orphanage

Atlanta University

Favorite Color

Blue, Rose

Timing Pairs
0,0:294,4:12890,221:16330,286:18170,321:18570,327:34998,488:35677,496:37035,517:40690,546:41890,559:42290,564:49426,641:49961,648:50710,657:55222,695:55966,706:59294,734:61118,749:67350,834:67750,839:69350,859:70450,871:72950,903:91434,1174:92422,1193:95538,1253:108754,1412:111683,1454:128075,1648:128500,1654:130115,1679:130625,1686:138880,1933$0,0:4324,126:4692,131:5060,136:5520,142:6348,154:7084,164:14686,226:18212,273:18986,287:19416,293:35160,496:35484,501:39696,578:42774,635:43422,707:54844,782:56572,806:57340,815:57724,826:59260,850:67534,932:67944,938:69174,955:72208,1015:73110,1030:83230,1153:89362,1257:90198,1279:95140,1346
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Marjorie Witt Johnson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Marjorie Witt Johnson lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Marjorie Witt Johnson describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Marjorie Witt Johnson describes how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Marjorie Witt Johnson describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Marjorie Witt Johnson recalls her family settling in Cheyenne, Wyoming

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Marjorie Witt Johnson describes her father's experiences in the U.S. Army

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Marjorie Witt Johnson describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Marjorie Witt Johnson describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Marjorie Witt Johnson remembers the landscape of Cheyenne, Wyoming

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Marjorie Witt Johnson recalls the diversity of her U.S. Army housing complex

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Marjorie Witt Johnson recalls accidentally causing a fire in Taylorville, Wyoming, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Marjorie Witt Johnson recalls accidentally causing a prairie fire in Taylorville, Wyoming, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Marjorie Witt Johnson remembers seeing buffalo near Taylorville, Wyoming

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Marjorie Witt Johnson describes Taylorville's Native American community

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Marjorie Witt Johnson describes her elementary schools in Cheyenne, Wyoming

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Marjorie Witt Johnson recalls a teacher's remarks about her complexion

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Marjorie Witt Johnson talks about her segregated childhood community

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Marjorie Witt Johnson describes class differences between Cheyenne's African Methodist Episcopal and Baptist churches

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Marjorie Witt Johnson describes her family's light complexions

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Marjorie Witt Johnson remembers how she discovered her talent for dancing

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Marjorie Witt Johnson recalls learning about slavery from her teacher, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Marjorie Witt Johnson recalls learning about slavery from her teacher, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Marjorie Witt Johnson remembers her decision to attend Oberlin College

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Marjorie Witt Johnson describes her dancing experiences at Oberlin College

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Marjorie Witt Johnson recalls her parents' opinion of her dancing aspirations

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Marjorie Witt Johnson describes her experiences at Oberlin College

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Marjorie Witt Johnson recalls teaching dance at Camp Chippewa

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Marjorie Witt Johnson remembers forming the Karamu Dancers

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Marjorie Witt Johnson describes the Karamu Dancers' first performance, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Marjorie Witt Johnson recounts the Karamu Dancers' first performance, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Marjorie Witt Johnson recalls the Karamu Dancers' performance at the New York World's Fair

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Marjorie Witt Johnson explains what inspired the Karamu Dancers' choreography

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Marjorie Witt Johnson recalls her choreography to Johannes Brahms' 'Rhapsody in G Minor'

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Marjorie Witt Johnson describes her accompanist, Lois A. Perry

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Marjorie Witt Johnson recalls her introduction to African music and meeting Babatunde Olatunji

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Marjorie Witt Johnson recalls her work with Roger Mae Johnson and Babatunde Olatunji

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Marjorie Witt Johnson recalls traveling to Atlanta, Georgia and Charlotte, North Carolina

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Marjorie Witt Johnson remembers social worker Grace Coyle

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Marjorie Witt Johnson describes 'Daughter of a Buffalo Soldier,' a dance in her honor

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Marjorie Witt Johnson reflects upon her life and legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Marjorie Witt Johnson shares her philosophy of art

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Marjorie Witt Johnson describes William E. Smith's artwork

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Marjorie Witt Johnson narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

7$8

DATitle
Marjorie Witt Johnson recalls her parents' opinion of her dancing aspirations
Marjorie Witt Johnson recalls her choreography to Johannes Brahms' 'Rhapsody in G Minor'
Transcript
Now what was your major in college [Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio]?$$I, I, I didn't, I got caught up with the conflict in my mind, and with what daddy [William Witt] and momma [Pearl Pryor Witt] thought about it because when I went out there at, at Christmastime, and said to them, "I thought I'd like to, to follow the dance world." And daddy got, got angry, very angry. He said, "I thought you wanted to be somebody." I said, "I will be somebody." And, and mother said, "We hadn't thought about it--dancing as somebody." And I was simply disappointed that they did not see what I saw, and, so I said, I don't know. And then, that's when I began to falter in directions, and not knowing what I was going to do, and, and but I still steadily went on. And, and it was through meeting Corrine's [Corrine Johnson Falope] father, Bill Johnson, who was an outstanding actor, and, and when I told him about the dancing and my folks' disappointment, he said, "Well, why don't you go ahead and be, be a dancer and, and be good at it? But I don't know about jobs for it at all." I said, "No, I'll find them." I said, "Look at the theatre." He said, "Well, the theatre is different." And I knew it was because my uncle [Hayes Pryor] was, and I liked what he had in it, you know. And then, so, this, the fellow--well, maybe, and I had, was liking him, that maybe by marrying him, and going ahead at, with my, with my life and drama and dance, I could make it. But I got really confused, and I got lost in the, in the, in the, in the making the decision. And it was the teachers when you went, met at their homes, and they would say, there are other opportunities, and then, that's when they told me about Karamu--$$Okay.$$--and the possibility.$$(CORRINE JOHNSON FALOPE): But it wasn't Karamu in those days. It was Settlement House [sic. Playhouse Settlement; Karamu House, Cleveland, Ohio].$$It, it was a settlement at that--$Now, you did one dance to Brahms' [Johannes Brahms] 'Rhapsody'--$$'In G minor' ['Rhapsody in G Minor'].$$'In G minor,' okay.$$That came about because the girls, at first, didn't like what they call, high class music. But the girl who played for them girls, she said, "But have you ever heard Brahms' 'Rhapsody in, in G minor'?" "No, no other kind of rhapsody, they'd say." And so, she played it. And then, they begin to take off on the, the beat--there's got a beat to it. Oh, and, and they were just mimicking the sounds and how it made them feel. And I said, "Look, you know, that's the dance." And, and, slowly and surely, I would get them to see it in choreography. And as it came more alive to them, they got, so that they would hear what they wanted to hear, and they would move to what make sense to them. And when I saw that, then I knew I had a real dance. And so, when the girl [Lois A. Perry] played, she was a great musician, played Brahms' 'Rhapsody in G Minor,' and she came to a part in it where they was emphasizing the base (unclear), that they would do certain movements. And, and it went on as she played, and the more she played Brahms' 'Rhapsody,' the more they loved it. And so, it became one of the pieces. And we didn't change it, give it no name, but just let their movements tell the story of how they felt.

Isabel Powell

Isabel Washington Powell was born in Savannah, Georgia, May 23, 1908, one of five children born to Hattie Washington, a dancer, and Robert T. Washington, a postal worker. At a young age, Powell was sent to a Catholic boarding school run by the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament in Cornwell Heights, Pennsylvania. After finishing her formal education, Powell moved to New York City and followed in the footsteps of an older sister, Fredi Washington, to become a dancer and actress. Powell performed as a showgirl in the nightclubs of Harlem during the Harlem Renaissance before dancing, singing, and acting in three Broadway shows in the late 1920s and early 1930s.

In 1934, Powell married Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. and assisted him in his election to the New York Council and as senior pastor of Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem. In 1944, Powell helped her husband become the first African American elected to the United States Congress from the east coast. In 1945, the Powells’ marriage ended in divorce. Powell went on to serve as a teacher’s aide in New York’s Harlem community public schools for over thirty years.

From 1945 on, Powell had a significant social and community presence on the Island of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts; she was noted for bringing together people of various races, ages, classes, and cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Powell was also recognized for promoting the political legacy of Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.

Powell was the mother of one son, Preston Powell. Powell passed away on May 1, 2007, just shy of her ninety-ninth birthday.

Accession Number

A2005.192

Sex

Female

Interview Date

8/9/2005

Last Name

Powell

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Isabel

Birth City, State, Country

Savannah

HM ID

POW05

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Georgia

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Massachusetts

Interview Description
Birth Date

5/23/1908

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Martha's Vineyard

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Seafood

Death Date

5/1/2007

Short Description

Dancer and teacher's aide Isabel Powell (1908 - 2007 ) was a dancer in Harlem night clubs during the Harlem Renaissance, in addition to acting, singing, and dancing in several Broadway productions. Later in her career, Powell was active in community life on the Island of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, serving as a social mover and shaker.

Employment

New York Public Schools

Favorite Color

Red

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Isabel Powell's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Isabel Powell lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Isabel Powell describes her career in performance

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Isabel Powell remembers her parents

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Isabel Powell describes her maternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Isabel Powell describes her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Isabel Powell remembers growing up in Savannah, Georgia

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Isabel Powell describes her paternal grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Isabel Powell remembers Habersham Street in Savannah, Georgia

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Isabel Powell remembers attending Sisters of the Blessed Sacrement in Bensalem, Pennsylvania

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Isabel Powell recalls moving to New York City when she was seventeen

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Isabel Powell remembers meeting Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Isabel Powell remembers meeting and marrying Adam Clayton Powell Jr.

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Isabel Powell recalls spending summers in Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Isabel Powell remembers how she met Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Isabel Powell describes her favorite activities

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Isabel Powell describes her family

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Isabel Powell talks about her sister, Fredi Washington

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Isabel Powell describes significant items at her home in Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Isabel Powell reflects upon her old age

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Isabel Powell reflects upon her life

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Isabel Powell recalls meeting President William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Isabel Powell remembers her visit from Joseph Carter

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Isabel Powell talks about her hobbies

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Isabel Powell talks about the importance of love

Tape: 2 Story: 14 - Isabel Powell describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 2 Story: 15 - Isabel Powell shares her famous Bloody Mary recipe

Tape: 2 Story: 16 - Isabel Powell narrates her photographs

Marla Blakey

Dancer, choreographer, and theatrical producer Marla D. Blakey was born on April 26, 1949, in Washington, D.C. Blakey grew up in Boston, Massachusetts, where, as a teen, she created stage shows with neighborhood children at St. Mark’s Social Center, part of the church program ministered by her legendary grandfather, Reverend Samuel L. Laviscount, pastor of St. Mark’s Congregational Church.

At the age of sixteen following her graduation from Jeremiah E. Burke High School in Boston, Massachusetts, Blakey went, with her mother’s permission, directly to Atlantic City, New Jersey, where she performed as a dancer at Club Harlem. There, Blakey performed with Sammy Davis, Jr., Billy Eckstein, Sarah Vaughan, and the bands of Duke Ellington and Cab Calloway, among many others. Blakey was still under twenty years of age when she danced in Las Vegas, Miami and Chicago; after performing around the United States, she went to Europe, dancing in Amsterdam, London, Germany, Belgium, and Italy. While in Europe, Blakey put together her own dance group and produced and booked shows at U.S. Army bases. After a few years in Europe, Blakey returned to Boston where she opened her own dance studio, and formed the Marla Blakey Dancers.

In 1975, Blakey moved to Los Angeles to advance her career; it was there that she choreographed and staged shows for artists such as Donna Summer, Anne Murray, Aretha Franklin, Bette Midler, David Bowie, Sting, and several Motown artists. During this time period, Blakey choreographed and staged her first television special Motown Returns to the Apollo for NBC. Blakey’s career on stage, as a producer, and her affinity for jazz music was forged through the influence of her father, Ruble Blakey, who sang with Lionel Hampton’s band; she first met her father at the age of twelve in Paris, France, where he was working as a booking agent for some jazz greats.

During Blakey’s thirty years of travel, performing, and producing shows, her heart was never far away from her childhood years on the Island of Martha’s Vineyard, where her mother owned a summer home. In 1988, Blakey moved to Martha’s Vineyard to become a year round resident. On Martha’s Vineyard, Blakey continues to be a prolific and significant producer, director, and choreographer; each summer she brings productions to the island’s performing arts centers and playhouses.

Accession Number

A2005.191

Sex

Female

Interview Date

8/9/2005

Last Name

Blakey

Maker Category
Occupation
Schools

William Lloyd Garrison Elementary School

Jeremiah E. Burke High School

Search Occupation Category
Speakers Bureau

Yes

Speakers Bureau Availability

Depends on Schedule

First Name

Marla

Birth City, State, Country

Washington

HM ID

BLA09

Speakers Bureau Preferred Audience

Teens, Adults, Seniors, Special Interest

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

Yes - $1,000 - $5,000

Favorite Season

Fall

Speaker Bureau Notes

Honorarium Specifics: $1000-2500
Availability Specifics: Evenings Preferred
Preferred Audience: Teens, Adults, Seniors, Special Interest

State

District of Columbia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Greece

Favorite Quote

Live Your Life Like Your Ass Is On Fire.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Massachusetts

Interview Description
Birth Date

4/26/1949

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Martha's Vineyard

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Olives

Short Description

Choreographer and dancer Marla Blakey (1949 - ) staged shows for many important jazz, Motown, and pop performers.

Employment

Smart Affairs

Marla Blakey Dancers

Marla Blakey Dance Studio

Favorite Color

Green

Timing Pairs
0,0:10684,259:16242,342:17022,356:17646,367:20090,373:27620,432:31364,520:32138,531:32568,537:41806,676:44162,751:46594,817:65295,1056:65680,1062:65988,1067:69915,1162:79758,1320:82950,1343:86490,1402:88914,1429:90172,1450:96831,1563:97286,1569:100500,1608:111012,1734:111540,1742:111892,1747:119196,1910:127822,2039:128134,2045:128446,2050:130240,2095:130786,2104:136470,2209:137720,2214$0,0:2640,32:5720,81:6600,90:9979,104:16626,203:19146,255:20406,303:29562,479:31326,513:31830,524:37668,563:39226,593:40374,609:42998,663:45458,751:46770,772:47426,781:48328,795:53215,815:63414,953:64030,961:64822,976:65350,983:67686,998:68358,1035:68862,1042:69954,1064:73296,1081:91665,1357:96094,1444:99493,1476:99905,1481:101965,1507:107830,1522:109108,1542:110741,1574:111451,1587:111806,1593:112516,1605:113297,1619:114220,1636:117557,1755:118196,1768:123678,1818:124138,1824:129970,1852:156066,2271:156456,2277:157002,2286:163565,2326:166113,2420:169480,2468:172564,2484:174373,2527:176580,2558:194750,2819:197270,2876:201850,2912
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Marla Blakey's interview, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Marla Blakey lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Slating of Marla Blakey's interview, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Marla Blakey describes her maternal family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Marla Blakey describes her maternal family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Marla Blakey remembers the Roxbury community in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Marla Blakey describes her likeness to her mother and maternal aunts

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Marla Blakey describes her father's background

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Marla Blakey remembers meeting her father in Paris, France at age twelve

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Marla Blakey remembers the year of her father's passing

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Marla Blakey talks about her father's life as a booking agent in Paris, France

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Marla Blakey remembers her maternal grandfather, Reverend Samuel Laviscount

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Marla Blakey lists her siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Marla Blakey remembers her elementary school years in Roxbury, Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Marla Blakey talks about HistoryMaker Elma Lewis

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Marla Blakey remembers her experiences at Jeremiah E. Burke High School in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Marla Blakey recalls entering show business with help from dance teacher Stanley Brown

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Marla Blakey remembers her early show business experiences in Atlantic City, New Jersey

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Marla Blakey recalls being jailed overnight while performing in Las Vegas, Nevada in 1969

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Marla Blakey remembers performing in Larry Steele's 'Smart Affairs' at the Eden Roc Miami Beach Hotel in Miami, Florida

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Marla Blakey describes her experience as a showgirl at Club Harlem in Atlantic City, New Jersey

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Marla Blakey remembers her career after 'Smart Affairs'

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Marla Blakey recalls her return to Boston, Massachusetts to found the Marla Blakey Dancers

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Marla Blakey talks about the Chickering Piano Factory artist lofts in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Marla Blakey recalls going to Hollywood in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Marla Blakey recalls her career as a choreographer

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Marla Blakey remembers highlights from her career as a choreographer

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Marla Blakey recalls family gatherings in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Marla Blakey remembers her maternal grandparents

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Marla Blakey reflects upon her career in show business

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Marla Blakey tells a story from Sidney Poitier's birthday party

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Marla Blakey remembers big acts she choreographed

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Marla Blakey recalls working with The Temptations

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Marla Blakey remembers ending her Hollywood career to move to Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts in 1988

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Marla Blakey recalls directing her first theatrical production on Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Marla Blakey remembers her production of Ntozake Shange's "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow is Enuf"

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Marla Blakey talks about plays she directed at the Martha's Vineyard Playhouse

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Marla Blakey remembers producing and directing 'The Dancers'

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Marla Blakey reflects upon her approach to show business

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Marla Blakey talks about producing jazz shows on Martha's Vineyard

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Marla Blakey recalls jazz musicians from her recent productions

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Marla Blakey explains her plans for the future

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Marla Blakey talks about the lifestyle on Martha's Vineyard

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Marla Blakey remembers African American women she has helped get into show business

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Marla Blakey talks about her dream of opening a jazz club in Italy

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Marla Blakey describes her day jobs

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Marla Blakey reflects upon her life

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Marla Blakey describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Marla Blakey talks about the play she co-wrote

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Marla Blakey gives advice to young people interested in performance careers

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Marla Blakey describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Marla Blakey narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$3

DAStory

8$7

DATitle
Marla Blakey remembers her early show business experiences in Atlantic City, New Jersey
Marla Blakey recalls her career as a choreographer
Transcript
Atlantic City [New Jersey], let's--you're there. Tell us about those opening weeks and months there (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Wow, you know, I just, maybe from my grandfather [Reverend Samuel Laviscount] I learned early on, just, "What you don't know, just keep your mouth shut and don't say anything," and I just was thrown into this situation. I grew up so fast, where I was with major stars, big revues, Johnny Lynch, an eighteen piece band. We were in a night club [Club Harlem, Atlantic City, New Jersey], literally, three shows a night. We finished at four in the morning. Sunday mornings, we had to do what we called a breakfast show, which anyone who knows that life, knows about it. That's the big show at six a.m., where all the other entertainers in Atlantic City would be able to come and see your show. They didn't used to clap in those days. They had knockers. They would hit the tables with these knockers. I was literally--one of our first shows was with Sammy Davis, [Jr.]. He was the headliner. We--he used to put us in these high heels, the producer Larry Steele. He was very, very hard on us. Because we were an all-black show we had to do everything better than anybody else--everything. He would take money out of our paychecks if our--the seam in our fishnet stockings wasn't straight, if we didn't have red lipstick on, if our nails weren't painted, if our costumes weren't hung up. Everything had to be precise and better than anyone else, and this is what we went through during that period. This is what I walked right into at sixteen and a half years old. Walking around the stage for two or three hours a day learning how to walk in high heels. My first show as a showgirl, I had what we call pasties. These little rhinestone things for your boobs and a little g-string and the feathers. I said, "Oh my God, what am I doing?" But I'm in show business. This is what I wanted to do. My mom [Merle Laviscount Jones] was, "No problem," and I stayed in that show ['Smart Affairs'] for many, many years. We worked the Eden Roc [Miami Beach] Hotel in Miami [Florida]. We did Chicago [Illinois]. We went through New York [New York]. We traveled with the show.$So, you choreographed for Donna Summers [sic. Donna Summer]?$$Yeah, and wow, for thirteen years, I--one thing lead to another. I didn't have enough sense to get an agent; you know, I didn't have enough business sense to get an agent. I did some dancing around a little bit here and there and a few TV shows, 'What's Happening!!' I had a little guest spot on 'What's Happening!!' and a big TV show with Cleavon Little, a movie, 'Comedy Tonight' [ph.]. I did a few things like that, but I still preferred to be behind the scenes. I had--I was really good with people, very diplomatic and I just had, as an early age, you know, just able to organize groups and just God, I have to believe this came from my grandfather [Reverend Samuel Laviscount], just a huge sense of treating people in the right way and being respectful and diplomatic and treating people the way you want to be treated, and I've done that my entire life. I tried to do it and be totally aware of it my entire life. So, but L.A. [Los Angeles, California] was a really interesting scene. I just, from Donna Summer, someone else saw me, saw her show, I met someone else. I was on the cutting edge of the video scene. Somebody got my name, Randy Newman's brother [sic. cousin], Tim Newman, got my name from somebody. "She's a good choreographer, she can do it," and I did a slew of music videos, starting with ZZ Top, which are very, very famous music videos now. Did three of those videos and moved from that to Linda Ronstadt to Fleetwood Mac, just tons of video; music videos for Motown. I was there at the music video scene where all the record companies said, "This is what we have to do, 'cause this is gonna make our act, and we're gonna make a lot of money." So, I was right there, right smack in the middle of the beginning of the music videos. And I did that for many, for quite a while and then Suzanne de Passe--who, you know, her family obviously is Oak Bluffs [Massachusetts], they knew people--knew of me, I knew her family, I knew her mom and everything and she, you know, she got me some work at Motown doing some acts, and then I got to meet [HistoryMaker] Berry Gordy, and I really understood what he was doing, 'cause he was like Larry Steele, you know, "We're gonna make these acts the best that they can be," you know, and I have to say a lot of it was because we were black, we had to do everything better. So, I was hired by Berry Gordy to clean up those acts, to polish them, to choreograph, and to teach the girls how to walk, to teach them how to sit down, to just, you know, and this is what I did for a really, really long time, you know, at Motown. A lot, a lot of choreographing of the acts, and then Suzanne gave me a big, big shot. I was the choreographer for 'Motown Returns to the Apollo,' which was a huge shot for me. And then I moved into a whole, whole, whole 'nother bracket at that point.

Gertrude Hadley Jeannette

Playwright, producer, director, and actress of the stage and screen, Gertrude Hadley Jeannette, was born in Urbana, Arkansas, on November 28, 1914, to Willis Lawrence Hadley and Salley Gertrude Crawford Hadley. Jeannette was raised in Arkansas where she attended Dunbar High School in Little Rock. Just before her high school graduation, Jeannette decided that she wanted to get married instead of attending Fisk University, as she had previously planned; she and Joe Jeannette, II, a prizefighter and the president of the Harlem Dusters, a motorcycle club, eloped to New York City in 1934.

In New York City, Jeannette learned to drive; in 1935 she became the first woman to get a license to drive a motorcycle. In 1942, because of the shortage of male taxicab drivers caused by the war, Jeannette became one of the first women to drive a cab in New York City. During this time, Jeannette decided to further her education; she took bookkeeping classes in the basement of Abyssinian Baptist Church, and speech classes at the American Negro Theatre in order to remedy her speech impediments. In 1945, Jeannette was cast in the lead role in Our Town; in 1950, she performed in her first play, This Way Foreward. That same year, Jeannette and Fred O’Neil appeared on television in James Weldon Johnson’s Gods Trombone on CBS’s General Electric Hour; she had replaced Pearl Bailey, who was originally cast in that role. As a result, Jeannette continued to work both in the theatre and in film and television; she went on to play roles in Broadway plays such as Lost In The Stars, Amen Corner, and The Great White Hope. Some of Jeannette’s film credits included Shaft, Black Girl, and Cotton Comes To Harlem.

In 1979, Jeannette founded the H.A.D.L.E.Y. Players (Harlem Artists Development League Especially for You) in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City. The mission of the H.A.D.L.E.Y. Players was to give artists a chance to develop their talents and skills in the theatre, and to enrich the cultural life in Harlem. Jeannette went on to direct, produce, and write her own plays, as well as the works of other playwrights.

Jeannette was presented with several awards for her work and accomplishments. In 1991, Jeannette was honored as a living legend at the National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and in 1998, she was honored with the Lionel Hampton Legacy Award. Jeannette was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 1999, and in 2002, she received the prestigious Paul Robeson Award from the Actor’s Equity Association. Jeanette, though retired, remained an active and celebrated member of the New York theater scene well into her nineties.

Jeannette passed away on April 4, 2018 at age 103.

Accession Number

A2005.133

Sex

Female

Interview Date

6/9/2005

Last Name

Jeannette

Maker Category
Middle Name

Hadley

Schools

Paul Laurence Dunbar High School

College Station Elementary School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Gertrude

Birth City, State, Country

Urbana

HM ID

JEA01

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Arkansas

Favorite Quote

Go Well And Stay Well.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Interview Description
Birth Date

11/28/1914

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Greens (Mixed), Cornbread

Death Date

4/4/2018

Short Description

Actress, stage director, and playwright Gertrude Hadley Jeannette (1914 - 2018 ) founded the H.A.D.L.E.Y. Players theater company in Harlem, York City.

Employment

City of New York

Various Broadway Plays

Favorite Color

Purple

Timing Pairs
0,0:9739,126:11764,203:17758,429:19540,469:23833,528:43118,658:44942,690:45326,695:46094,705:46766,714:52046,812:52910,850:65434,970:66682,1000:66994,1005:69958,1078:77436,1127:88060,1277:108187,1536:110690,1597:115380,1713:134414,1939:135415,1965:135954,1973:144312,2059:144648,2064:146076,2083:148680,2189:149604,2212:155000,2286$0,0:4620,210:19254,344:38970,613:55610,818:56267,830:57727,848:66005,952:73686,1102:74310,1113:74700,1119:75090,1125:77230,1133:77896,1143:78192,1148:91795,1355:92095,1360:95320,1413:95620,1418:96370,1431:96670,1436:96970,1441:99370,1479:106748,1544:107300,1549
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Gertrude Hadley Jeannette's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette describes her maternal ancestors' life on the Cherokee reservation

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette describes her mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette describes how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette describes her experiences in grade school

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette recalls her high school experience in Little Rock, Arkansas

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette recalls eloping with Joe Jeannette, II

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette describes reconciling with her parents after her marriage

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette recalls continuing her education in New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette remembers becoming the first female motorcyclist in New York

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette remembers becoming the first female taxi driver in New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette describes joining the American Negro Theater

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette recalls working in summer stock theater

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette describes her experiences with New York City's American Negro Theater

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette recalls her friendship with Frank Silvera

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette recalls appearing in 'Lost in the Stars' on Broadway

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette recalls touring with the musical 'Lost in the Stars'

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette recalls early African American movie stars

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette recalls the McCarthy Era

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette describes performing in 'The Little Foxes'

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette remembers Paul Robeson, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette remembers Paul Robeson, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette recalls appearing in James Baldwin's play, 'The Amen Corner'

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette reflects upon her Broadway acting career

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette describes her acting philosophy

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette describes founding the H.A.D.L.E.Y. Players

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette describes running the H.A.D.L.E.Y. Players in New York City, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette describes running the H.A.D.L.E.Y. Players in New York City, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette describes her concerns for African American theater

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette reflects upon her life

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette recalls African American prizefighters

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette reflects upon her family life

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette narrates her photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette narrates her photographs, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette narrates her photographs, pt. 3

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$4

DAStory

6$8

DATitle
Gertrude Hadley Jeannette remembers becoming the first female taxi driver in New York City
Gertrude Hadley Jeannette describes founding the H.A.D.L.E.Y. Players
Transcript
When was it that you became the first woman to get a (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Taxi driver?$$Yeah, woman taxi driver.$$That was in '42 [1942].$$Okay. Now that's the same--$$You see that was when World War II [WWII] started.$$That's '41 [1941].$$They advertised in the paper, they said that so many men were being taken, and that they were gonna have to train women to drive the cabs (background noise). Women were going into plants and everything else, taking over jobs that men, you know, and I said, "Well I know one thing, I can drive a car. I don't know nothing about working over there in those plants and things." But I went down and got an application, and they gave me a book about the city and whatnot, but I had ridden all over Brooklyn [New York], and everywhere on that motorcycle with my husband [Joe Jeanette, II] and in the cars. I pretty much knew more than the cab drivers knew anyway. But I took the book, and I'm a quick study. I got the main streets in Brooklyn, the main streets and whatnot. So when they came up for the test, I took the oral test and then they--now the men don't have to do this. If they get a driver's license, they don't have to take the test. And you know these drivers, these cab drivers today, they--you have to tell them where to go and how to get there because they don't know anything. But we had to take a test and they would say such and such. "If I'm on Central Park West at 86th Street and Central Park West and I wanna go to 120 Broadway. How would you get there? What is the nearest way?" And I would--I would tell 'em. I said, "If you wanna go through the city, that will be the nearest way. The quickest way would be to go and get the drive, then go down and you'll come off at South Ferry [Street], and then you go to Broadway, and then you go down to 120." And I passed the test. That day, thirty-two of us took the test and only two of us passed. But the other girl didn't get her license because she had citations on her driver's license. And so I, I was the first. And I made every paper in New York [New York], we had six papers. We had the Journal [New York Journal-American], the [New York Daily] Mirror, The [New York] Times, the New York [Daily] News. I made every paper.$$That's wonderful--$Tell me about the H.A.D.L.E.Y. Players. Now when did the H.A.D.L.E.Y. Players start, and we know how it got named, right? Those who have heard the first part of this interview know that Hadley is your maiden name and your father's [Willis Hadley] name, right?$$No, well when we organized, when we left the Our Theater and we went over to the place, rented the--over at St. Philip's.$$St. Philip's Episcopal Church [New York, New York]?$$Yeah.$$Okay.$$We got the whole basement down there. And we gonna be closing down for the summer for some new renovations and whatnot. But they said, what are we gonna call this group? Cause we're gonna--this group is--we're gonna hold onto this group. Well I had been teaching in the CETA [Comprehensive Employment and Training Act] program, and when that closed down, I got some of the people, you know, from that to come in with me. And we were thinking of a name. And they didn't wanna use Our Theater. They said, "Ms. Jeannette [HistoryMaker Gertrude Hadley Jeannette], why don't we call it the Jeannette Theater?" I said, "No, we're not gone make it personal. We're gonna make it something that everybody, all of us, it will belong to all of us." They said, "What is your maiden name?" I said, "Hadley." They said, "Why can't we call it the Hadley Theater?" I said, "No, won't call it Hadley." So they said, "Well give us some time to think it over." So they went out and they came back and they said, "How 'bout Harlem Artists Development League Especially for You?" I said I'll buy that.

Louis Johnson

Director and choreographer Louis Johnson was born on March 19, 1930, in Statesville, North Carolina, but moved with his parents to Washington, D.C., at an early age. Although Johnson became quickly known in the Washington, D.C., school system for his outstanding artistic talents, he also developed a strong following for his gymnastic and dancing talents. In high school, he enrolled and trained at the Jones Haywood School of Dance, where he and such notable students as Chita Rivera blossomed under the tutelage of Doris Jones and Clair Haywood.

After being advised to move by his teachers to New York City, Johnson found himself at the famed New York City School of American Ballet, where he was mentored by Jerome Robbins and George Balanchine. These associations led directly to a performance with the New York City Ballet Company and then on to Broadway shows such as Four Saints in Three Acts, House of Flowers (choreographed by George Balanchine), Damn Yankees (by Bob Fosse) and Hallelujah Baby. His public acclaim in these Broadway performances led to an offer to choreograph his ballet, Lament for the New York City Ballet Club. That success, in turn, led to him receiving an offer to choreograph the Broadway production Black Nativity by Langston Hughes. Johnson also choreographed Lost in the Stars, Treemonisha and Purlie, for which he received a Tony nomination.

Johnson has received the great acclaim for choreographing operas performed by the New York Metropolitan Opera. Those operas include La Giaconda, starring Martina La Rowa and Aida, which starred Leontyne Price. In movies, he choreographed Cotton Comes to Harlem and The Wiz, starring Michael Jackson and Diana Ross. In addition to his work in New York City, Johnson has mounted ballets for the Cincinnati Ballet, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, the Joffrey Ballet, Philadanco Dance Company, the Dance Theatre of Harlem, and the Atlanta Ballet Company. In 1980, he started Henry Street Settlement’s Dance Department in New York City. He continued to work there until 2003. He also taught the first Black theatre course at Yale University and started Howard University’s Dance Department in Washington, D.C.

Johnson’s honors include: the Pioneer Award from the International Association of Blacks in Dance at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.; an honor from the California chapter of the NAACP for his work with the original Negro Ensemble Company; and a special night honoring him from Ashford and Simpson. His directorial credits include Porgy and Bess, Miss Truth, Jazzbo Brown, Time in the Wind and Ebony Game.

Johnson passed away on March 31, 2020.

Accession Number

A2005.134

Sex

Male

Interview Date

6/9/2005

Last Name

Johnson

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

Shaw Middle School at Garnet-Patterson

Garrison Elementary School

Armstrong Technical School

School of American Ballet

Dunham School of Dance and Theater

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Louis

Birth City, State, Country

Statesville

HM ID

JOH21

Favorite Season

Fall

State

North Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination

Harlem, New York

Favorite Quote

Holding on.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Interview Description
Birth Date

3/19/1930

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Potatoes (White)

Death Date

3/31/2020

Short Description

Ballet dancer, dance professor, and choreographer Louis Johnson (1930 - 2020) has choreographed for the stage in, "Damn Yankees," and, "Hallelujah Baby," and for screen in, "The Wiz," and, "Cotton Comes to Harlem." In 1980, he started Henry Street Settlement’s Dance Department in New York City. He also taught the first black theater course at Yale University, and started Howard University’s dance department in Washington, D.C.

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Louis Johnson interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Louis Johnson's favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Louis Johnson talks about his mother's background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Louis Johnson remembers his grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Louis Johnson discusses his elementary school years

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Louis Johnson describes his early involvement in dance

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Louis Johnson talks about his father's background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Louis Johnson recalls influential dance teachers

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Louis Johnson remembers classmates in dance school

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Louis Johnson remembers his first dance job

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Louis Johnson discusses an early appearance on Broadway

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Louis Johnson talks about the cast of 'House of Flowers'

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Louis Johnson remembers his involvement in 'Damn Yankees'

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Louis Johnson recalls close friends from his early days on Broadway

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Louis Johnson comments on young dancers of today

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Louis Johnson recalls experiences in the motion picture 'Damn Yankees'

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Louis Johnson details his transition into choreography

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Louis Johnson talks about various choreography work

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Louis Johnson mentions students from Howard University' dance program

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Louis Johnson remembers choreographing 'Purlie'

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Louis Johnson mentions various successes from his choreography career

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Louis Johnson describes his approach to new projects

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Louis Johnson talks about facing discrimination

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Louis Johnson discusses different types of entertainers he's worked with

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Louis Johnson explains applying his style to various projects

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Louis Johnson details various performers he's worked with over the years

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Louis Johnson remembers working in Atlanta and Harlem

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Louis Johnson explains his involvement with the Negro Ensemble Company

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Louis Johnson recalls his career with Henry Street Settlement

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Louis Johnson talks about projects of which he's most proud

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Louis Johnson talks about Howard University's dance department

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Louis Johnson describes the career of Debbie Allen

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Louis Johnson remembers choreographing 'Treemonisha' to Broadway

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Louis Johnson discusses various productions he's choreographed

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Louis Johnson details his involvement with 'The Wiz'

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Louis Johnson recalls various awards he's received

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Louis Johnson talks about his directorial credits

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Louis Johnson talks about 'The Ebony Game'

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Louis Johnson discusses his involvement in 'MissTruth'

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Louis Johnson shares his thoughts on 'Jazzbo Brown'

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Louis Johnson remembers the production 'Time and the Wind'

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Louis Johnson further discusses 'Miss Truth'

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Louis Johnson tells of giving exposure to lesser-known performers

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Louis Johnson comments on various performers he's worked with

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Louis Johnson talks about dealing with racism during his early years

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Louis Johnson reflects on his career

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Louis Johnson tells of the importance of black history

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Louis Johnson considers his legacy

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$2

DAStory

6$7

DATitle
Louis Johnson describes his early involvement in dance
Louis Johnson details his transition into choreography
Transcript
You started developing your movement abilities in elementary school. Tell us about being in the second and third--well, as much you remember--?$$Well, I used to tap dance.$$--and the acrobatics?$$I tap danced around with my acrobatics, and there was a gentleman named Derwood Brent (ph.) and Melvin Hope (ph.) that tap danced. And Derwood Brent was in charge of the New Faces Guild [NOT FOUND]. There was a thing in Washington [D.C.] called The New Faces Guild that Ralph Matthews started. He gave a show like once a year at the Lincoln Theatre, which was the only theater that black people could go to. And he would give a production every year, a fantastic production, tap dancing, comedians and beautiful show girls and all that kind of thing. So I--and Melvin Hope was another young man and Miles Conte (ph.), and they would tap dance in the shows. I was too young to, but they would let me tap with them around on the street. So I would tap on the street with them and some time I got older enough to be in some of those shows. And that's how I began to dance around. And I always did acrobatics with Nipsey Russell, Nipsey had a great tumbling team. You could never say enough about this man. You didn't know what he was doing then, but he was a great, great acrobat, like you see in the circus. And he taught the young kids to do that.$$Now, was he teaching you at that YMCA [Young Men's Christian Association]?$$At the YMCA and the streets. And that's how I got involved with dance. The YMCA was being renovated, so the YWCA [Young Women's Christian Assocation] let us use their place. And Jones and Haywood, the ladies who found in me as a dancer, who introduced me to dancing professionally was teaching there. And they saw us rehearsing at the YWCA, and they saw me stretching around and doing that stuff. And they were very impressed, so they offered me a scholarship in formal dancing at the Y, you know, and I, I said, I'd love to. And that's how it all started with me dancing.$$Now, tell us about the dance team that began teaching you? Just give us some more details and some--?$$Doris [W.] Jones and Claire [Helen] Haywood?$$Yes.$$They were two wonderful ladies that taught ballet. And they thought I would be able to do that well, seeing me stretch and carry on. So they invited me to take some classes at their school and gave me a scholarship and cleaning up their house like once a week. And I'd come and take dance classes there, and I did. And it introduced me to ballet and formal dancing properly. And I fell in love with it, but I kept my tumbling going on, and that's how I got involved with dance; came to New York [New York]. They sent me to New York City to the School of American Ballet. That's George Balanchine's school at the time; the finest training in ballet you could get anywhere in the world. And I went on, carried on.$Let's, let's go on to 'Hallelujah Baby' [1967], that followed your ascent there?$$'Hallelujah Baby' I wasn't dancing. No, I hadn't danced in a little while. And I was asked to come into that cause I--they knew who, they knew of my--the young man that choreographed it, Kevin Carlisle, I did the first 'Modern Jazz Quartet' thing, I had used him as a dancer because he even became a cari--choreographer. And he'd become a choreographer for the 'Garry Moore Show' [television program], and he had choreographed 'Damn Yankees', and he was replacing somebody. Well, he needed a standby, and one name leads to another. And a lot of people knew of my name, and they recommended me highly. And I became the standby in that.$$Okay.$$That means if somebody's out, you go in their place. And I stood in for Alan Weeks and another young man, I'm--Winston [DeWitt] Helmsley. They were called 'Tip and Tap', and they had a specialty number in there. And I was on all the time. I said, Oh, Lord, at least I'll get a chance to rest. Every time you look around, they say, Louis, get ready, get in your costume cause you're on tonight. So that--.$$So that way, you were quickly moving from being a dancer to being a choreographer? And your first ballet was 'Lament'?$$Yeah.$$And how did that come about?$$Well, that was at the YMCA, YM-YWHA [Young Men's-Young Women's Hebrew Association]. I had done a solo that was, that--called 'Harlequin', which I used my acrobatics and dancing in it. And it was outstanding. And I forget the man's name. How can I forget this man--he was a great producer of, of artists. And he recommended that I would be on a show that they did on Broadway. They used to do a show on Broadway where they used a lot of very fine talent to show them, to ex--to show their talent. And he insisted that they did solo 'Harlequin' of mine. And I forget this man's name. I'll think of it. He was a great, great, great impresario at that time. He--and that's how it started.$$Okay.$$My 'Lament' [1965], you're talking about 'Lament'?$$Right.$$Yeah.$$Right.$$Well, also during that, the man who--I said made me do 'Harlequin' also was named Mr. Koreff. I remember him. He was Nora Kaye's father. Nora Kaye was a great big ballerina at that time. And he gave this thing called 'New York City Ballet Club' every year. And he insisted I do a piece. So I, I did a piece called 'Lament' that I had heard the music of Bachiana Brasileira of Villa-Lobos. So I did that, and it was a big success at the Y. Then I began to do ballets. They, they, they liked it, the audiences did, and people did and talked--it was the talk--.

Arthur Wellesley French

A director and actor who has appeared regularly on and off Broadway and in movies and television for more than forty years, Arthur Wellesley French, Jr. was born in New York City to Arthur Wellesley French and Ursilla Idonia Ollivierre. Educated at Brooklyn College, French worked for the New York City Department of Social Services before he began studying the Strasberg technique with Peggy Feury and acting in community theatre. He also studied with Maxwell Glanville, the founder of the Dramatic Workshop, as well as performing street plays in Harlem for Amiri Baraka's Black Arts Repertory Theater. A role in an off-Broadway satirical play, Raisin' Hell in the Son at the Provincetown Playhouse, launched his career as a professional actor.

In 1965, French appeared in Douglas Turner Ward's Day of Absence, out of which the Negro Ensemble Company evolved in 1967, producing professional theatre using Black artists, performers, writers, directors, actors, and craftspeople. During his career, French has performed in plays by Lonne Elder III, Ron Milner and August Wilson; a list which, including Ward, encompasses many contemporary African American playwrights. While French’s broad body of work in theatre includes acting in everything from Death of a Salesman with George C. Scott and Shakespeare’s King Lear to Melvin van Peebles' Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death, he has also appeared in films including Malcolm X, Crooklyn, Car Wash, Round Midnight, Kinsey, and on television programs such as Law and Order, as well as in commercials. He has directed, among others, the South African playwright Lungelo Mvusi's Just Won't; Marjorie Elliott's Branches from the Same Tree; Clifford Mason's Two Bourgeois Blacks; George Bernard Shaw's The Village Wooing; Steve Carter's One Last Look; Rudy Gray's Chameleon; Estelle Ritchie's Love You to Pieces and Wole Soyinka's Strong Breed for which he garnered two Audience Development Committee (AUDELCO) nominations.

Along with the Audience Development Committee nominations and much critical acclaim, French won the Obie for Sustained Excellence of Performance in 1997. French currently teaches acting at Herbert Berghof (HB) Studio in New York as he continues to direct and to act on stage and in film.

Accession Number

A2005.127

Sex

Male

Interview Date

6/7/2005

Last Name

French

Maker Category
Marital Status

Widower

Middle Name

Wellesley

Organizations
Schools

J.H.S 40

The Bronx High School of Science

Morris High School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Arthur

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

FRE04

Favorite Season

Winter

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Los Angeles, California

Favorite Quote

Try To Keep Moving Forward.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Interview Description
Birth Date

11/6/1949

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Pastas, Veal

Short Description

Stage actor, film actor, and stage director Arthur Wellesley French (1949 - ) has appeared regularly on and off Broadway and in movies and television. Along with Audience Development Committee nominations and much critical acclaim, French won an Obie Award for Sustained Excellence of Performance in 1997. French also has taught acting at Herbert Berghof (HB) Studio in New York.

Employment

Department of Social Services

Negro Ensemble Company

HB Studios

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Arthur Wellesley French's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Arthur Wellesley French lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Arthur Wellesley French describes his maternal family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Arthur Wellesley French describes his mother's childhood in the British West Indies and her move to the United States

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Arthur Wellesley French describes his paternal family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Arthur Wellesley French describes how his parents met in New York City

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Arthur Wellesley French shares his earliest childhood aspiration

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Arthur Wellesley French describes his father's work

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Arthur Wellesley French describes his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Arthur Wellesly French describes his childhood neighborhood in Harlem, New York City

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Arthur Wellesly French describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood in Harlem, New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Arthur Wellesley French describes memorable figures from his childhood neighborhood in Harlem, New York, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Arthur Wellesley French describes his home life growing up in New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about attending St. Philip's Episcopal Church in Harlem, New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Arthur Wellesley French describes his childhood interests and activities

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Arthur Wellesley French describes his childhood interests in reading and math

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Arthur Wellesley French describes memorable teachers from P.S. 90 and J.H.S. 40 in New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about overcoming asthma and playing sports while growing up in the Bronx, New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Arthur Wellesley French describes his early interest in drama in high school

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Arthur Wellesley talks about his father's death and working to help support his mother

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Arthur French talks about attending The Bronx High School of Science and Morris High School in New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about helping his mother with her sewing jobs after his father's death

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Arthur Wellesley French describes his experience at Morris High School in the Bronx, New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about working for the New York City Department of Social Services

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Arthur Wellesley French describes his experiences working for the New York City Department of Social Services

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about his early interest in acting

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about working as a stagehand for doo-wop groups in the late 1950s

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about the Dramatic Workshop and his acting coach, Peggy Feury

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about joining Maxwell Granville's acting group in Harlem, New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about working behind the scenes for the play 'The Blacks: A Clown Show'

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Arthur French recalls his first acting role in the play 'Raisin Hell in the Son'

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about marrying his wife in 1961

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Arthur Wellesley French describes the play 'Raisin' Hell in the Son'

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about pursuing acting while working full time

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about acting in three summer stock plays, including HistoryMaker Ossie Davis' 'Purlie Victorious'

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Arthur Wellesley French remembers meeting HistoryMaker Douglas Turner Ward

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Arthur Wellesley French describes the plays 'Happy Ending' and 'Day of Absence'

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about notable figures who attended the play 'Days of Absence'

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about the play 'Perry's Mission'

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about the Negro Ensemble Company's groundbreaking success

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Arthur Wellesley French reflects on the naming of the Negro Ensemble Company

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Arthur Wellesley French describes the plays produced by Negro Ensemble Company in New York City during the late 1960s

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about his response to reading theater reviews

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Arthur Wellesley French reflects on the early years and accomplishments of the Negro Ensemble Company

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Arthur Wellesley French explains how his attempt to act in Hollywood, California was derailed

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about applying to The Bronx High School of Science in the Bronx, New York City

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about his decision to commit to acting full time

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about the opening of HistoryMaker Melvin Van Peebles' play 'Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death'

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about the cast of HistoryMaker Melvin Van Peebles' play 'Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death'

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about acting in 'Our Street' and the play 'Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death'

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Arthur Wellesley French remembers stage director Gilbert Moses

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about performing the play 'Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death' at the Tony Awards

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Arthur Wellesley French describes the powerful ending of 'Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death'

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about the controversial aspects of 'Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death'

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about his roles in various productions, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about his roles in various productions, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about his role in 'Death of a Salesman'

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about the play 'The River Niger'

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about 'Ceremonies in Dark Old Men' and directing August Wilson's 'Fences' in Vermont

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Arthur Wellesley French remembers playwrights Lonne Elders III and August Wilson

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Arthur Wellesley describes his acting awards

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Arthur Wellesley French remembers actress Rosetta LeNoire

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Arthur Wellesley French lists his roles in various television shows and movies

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Arthur Wellesley French shares an anecdote about one of his early television performances

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about protests against 'Song of the Lusitanian Bogey' in London, England

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about being typecast as older characters

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about current and future projects

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Arthur Wellesley talks about the theme of passing in the film 'Bellclair Times'

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about his training in method acting

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about continuing challenges in African American representation in film

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Arthur Wellesley French describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Arthur Wellesley French reflects upon his life

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Arthur Wellesley French reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Arthur Wellesley French remembers his mother, Ursilla Ollivierre French

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Arthur Wellesley French shares his thoughts about discrimination and historical misrepresentation

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Arthur Wellesley French describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

7$4

DATitle
Arthur Wellesley French talks about the Negro Ensemble Company's groundbreaking success
Arthur Wellesley French talks about the cast of HistoryMaker Melvin Van Peebles' play 'Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death'
Transcript
From around the country, black people--when other black folks get involved in the theater they look to the Negro Ensemble Company--$$Right.$$--as the place to be.$$Well--$$Did you have a sense of that, being in it?$$Well, at first, well, after, this was after 'Happy Ending' and 'Day of Absence.' So, I don't say I had a sense of it. I was very happy to be part of it. And I'd worked with Doug [HistoryMaker Douglas Turner Ward] before. The same people who were the head people at the Negro Ensemble Company were the same three people who produced 'Happy Ending' and 'Day of Absence,' which was [HistoryMaker] Robert Hooks, Douglas Turner Ward, and Gerald Krone. So, I was happy to be there with this company. I knew every black actor in the city [New York, New York] wanted to be part of this, so I felt privileged to be part of it. I think what happened is that we were there and we were in the same theater [St. Mark's Playhouse, New York, New York] where we did 'Happy Ending' and 'Day of Absence.' And we opened, our first play was 'Song of the Lusitanian Bogey' by Peter Weiss. Well, what happened, and I guess it was surprising, is that we did our first play. And we just did a play, and I'd done plays before. And almost overnight it seemed, you know, when we got reviewed, suddenly we would read about being compared to the Moscow Art Theater, and being compared to great theaters of the past. There were lines around the block, mostly all white, coming to see us. So, there was that immediate--it was just, just happened. So one day we were a group of people putting on a play, and the next day we were kind of getting all this publicity and a lot of press. And we became--like international press. So it was, it was--but Doug kind of kept us. Doug would let us enjoy that for about twenty-four hours. And then he would say, "Okay, now we've got to start, we've got to start rehearsing the next play." So, we went on and moved on to the next thing. But suddenly that became the place to be. Every reviewer was there. I mean everyone wanted, you know, to find out what these black people were doing, how did this happen? So, we were known throughout, you know, the country almost immediately. I mean it was, I don't think--I personally didn't understand or was aware of the scope of it at the time--$$Now, how--$$--of how far reaching it was. To say it was known all over the world in a very short time.$What role did you play in 'Ain't Supposed to Die [a Natural Death,' Melvin Van Peebles]?$$Well, we didn't have names. I opened both the first act and the second act (laughter). But it was, the experience of that--it was--how serendipitous the whole business is--it's that when the auditions came up, being in my usual ignorance, I wasn't really aware of the 'Ain't Supposed to Die' album. I was doing a series out of Baltimore [Maryland], a television series called 'Our Street' with Whitney LeBlanc. I don't know if you know Whitney. Did you ever interview Whitney? Whitney LeBlanc, and who was down there? The young Howard Rollins was down there. And when the auditions came up I'd just gotten a contract, like ten out of twelve weeks in Baltimore. So, I was about to quit anyway my job. I don't think I'd quit then yet. Anyway, I couldn't go to the audition. And the agreement was, it was like you're going to be there ten out of twelve weeks, but we'll tell you which two weeks you can take off. So, I missed the auditions. But after the first week they said, "We have to go back and shoot an episode before your character was introduced. So, you're off next week." I'd only worked one week. So I came back and kind of called the agent. They said, "We're seeing people on callbacks." But they saw me, and they got me, I got me in and I got a part in the show. I didn't have to go to a callback. But if I hadn't had that week off, I'd never been in it. So I opened the show singing, 'It Just Don't Make No Sense.' And it was a period of songs and street scenes and what not. And then I opened the second act singing, 'Good Morning Sunshine.' It was a great cast. Garrett Morris was in the cast; Dick Anthony Williams; B Winde [Beatrice Winde]; who else? Phylicia Rashad came in after. I'm trying to think of the people--Sati Jamal. It was a big cast, lots of wonderful people, Albert Hall. And I'm going to forget somebody. But don't print it, don't say any names, because I'll never remember them all. But anyway that was, that was, you know, my first Broadway experience. We ran for like eight months.

Ronald Glass

Actor Ron Glass was born Ronald Earle Glass to Lefia Mae Gibson Glass and Crump Allen Glass on July 10, 1945, in Evansville, Indiana. A spelling bee champion at St. John’s Elementary School, Glass attended St. Francis High School where he excelled at athletics and singing. After graduating in 1964, Glass attended the University of Evansville where he received his B.A. degree in drama and literature.

In 1968, Glass made his stage debut at the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Moving to Hollywood in 1972, Glass got his first television role in an episode of Sanford and Son. Other roles followed in All in the Family (1972); Maude (1972); Hawaii Five-O (1973); Good Times (1974); When Things Were Rotten (1975); and Streets of San Francisco (1976). In 1975, Glass became a regular on the police comedy Barney Miller; he later went on to play Felix in The New Odd Couple (1983). Glass appeared in series as varied as The Twilight Zone (1985); 227 (1985); Deep Space (1987); Family Matters (1989); Murder She Wrote (1984); Friends (1994); Star Trek Voyager (1995); Teen Angel (1997); and The Practice (1997). In 2002, Glass played the role of Shepherd Book in Firefly, which he reprised for Serenity, the 2005 movie based on the show.

Active in the community, Glass served on the boards of the American Repertory Dance Company, the Ka-Ron Lehman Dancers, and St. Thomas University. Glass was also the chairman of the Al Wooten, Jr. Heritage Center in Los Angeles, California.

Glass passed away on November 25, 2016.

Accession Number

A2005.111

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/27/2005

Last Name

Glass

Schools

St. Francis High School

St. John’s Elementary School

University of Evansville

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Ronald

Birth City, State, Country

Evansville

HM ID

GLA02

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Indiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

South Seas

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Interview Description
Birth Date

7/10/1945

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Grits

Death Date

11/25/2016

Short Description

Stage actor and television actor Ronald Glass (1945 - 2016 ) appeared in numerous television shows, including All in the Family, Maude, Hawaii Five-O, Good Times, Friends, Star Trek Voyager, and Firefly.

Employment

The Guthrie Theatre

Hollywood

Al Wooten, Jr. Heritage Center

Favorite Color

Brown

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Ronald Glass' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Ronald Glass lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Ronald Glass describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Ronald Glass talks about visiting his mother's sister in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Ronald Glass describes his father's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Ronald Glass describes his father's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Ronald Glass recalls visits to his father's family in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Ronald Glass describes his parents' personalities

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Ronald Glass reflects upon his paternal family's sense of pride

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Ronald Glass describes his father's job as a factory worker and their strained relationship

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Ronald Glass talks about his parents' marriage and separation

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Ronald Glass describes his likeness to his parents

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Ronald Glass describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Ronald Glass explains his parents' move from Memphis, Tennessee to Evansville, Indiana

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Ronald Glass describes the projects where his family lived in Evansville, Indiana

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Ronald Glass describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Ronald Glass recalls attending elementary school in Evansville, Indiana

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Ronald Glass describes his elementary school experience in Evansville, Indiana

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Ronald Glass remembers his English class at St. Anthony Catholic School

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Ronald Glass describes his favorite teacher at St. Anthony Catholic School

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Ronald Glass describes his reunion with his favorite teacher in elementary school

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Ronald Glass describes his household as a child and his place in it

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Ronald Glass recalls his introduction to classical music

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Ronald Glass describes how he was perceived in his neighborhood, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Ronald Glass describes how he was perceived in his neighborhood, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Ronald Glass recalls attending St. Anthony Catholic Church in Evansville, Indiana

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Ronald Glass recalls standing up to bullies in his childhood

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Ronald Glass remembers playing sports at St. Francis High School

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Ronald Glass recalls his high school interests in sports and language

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Ronald Glass talks about attending Evansville College in 1964

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Ronald Glass recalls acting in his first play at Evansville College

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Ronald Glass recalls graduating from the University of Evansville in 1968

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Ronald Glass describes his experience at The Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Ronald Glass describes moving to Los Angeles, California in 1972

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Ronald Glass recalls being cast in the television sitcom 'Sanford and Son'

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Ronald Glass describes appearing in the TV sitcoms 'All in the Family' and 'Barney Miller'

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Ronald Glass reflects upon his family's reaction to his success in Hollywood, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Ronald Glass reflects upon his family's reaction to his success in Hollywood, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Ronald Glass reflects upon race relations in Indiana and his awareness of the Civil Right Movement

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Ronald Glass remembers not joining a college fraternity and his exemption from the draft

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Ronald Glass describes his character of Detective Ron Harris on 'Barney Miller,' pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Ronald Glass describes his character of Detective Ron Harris on 'Barney Miller, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Ronald Glass recalls his favorite scenes from the TV sitcom 'Barney Miller'

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Ronald Glass describes his work on the TV sitcom 'The New Odd Couple'

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Ronald Glass describes his role for the TV sitcom 'Mr. Rhodes'

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Ronald Glass describes his community involvement in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Ronald Glass describes his involvement with Los Angeles' Al Wooten Jr. Heritage Center

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Ronald Glass describes his appearance on the TV show 'Firefly' and the film 'Serenity'

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Ronald Glass talks about his desire to continue his acting career

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Ronald Glass describes his hopes for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Ronald Glass reflects upon his life and career, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Ronald Glass reflects upon his life and career, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Ronald Glass talks about his family

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Ronald Glass reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Ronald Glass describes how he would like to be remembered

Oz Scott

Director and producer Oz Scott was born Osborne E. Scott, Jr. September 16, 1949 in Fortman Row, Virginia. His father was Army chaplain Brigadier General Osborne Scott, Sr. and his mother, Jean Sampson Scott, was the president of the Schomburg chapter of the African American Genealogical Society. Raised in Japan and Germany until he was twelve years old, Scott attended Baumholder School and Bad Kreuznach American School. In Mt. Vernon, New York he attended Graham School, Pemberton School and graduated from Mt. Vernon High School in 1967. Starting at Friends World College, he transferred to Marlboro College where he started doing theatre before earning his B.A. from Antioch College in 1972. Already working with Back Alley Theatre and Arena Stage, he received an MFA from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts in 1974.

Scott began his theatrical career at Washington, D.C.’s Arena Stage where he managed The Living Stage. In New York, Scott staged and took to Broadway, for colored girls who considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf by Ntozake Shange in 1977. He also directed Sonia Sanchez’ Sister Sonji; Richard Wesley’s The Past is the Past; and Fences by August Wilson. A director with writing skills, Scott started his television work in 1976 with The Jeffersons and Archie Bunker’s Place. In the 1980’s Scott directed episodes of Hill Street Blues, Gimme a Break! Scarecrow and Mrs. King, The Cosby Show, 227, L.A. Law, and Dirty Dancing. In the 1990s it was Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Picket Fences, Party of Five, Chicago Hope, JAG, The Practice, Ally McBeal, Family Law, Time Cop, Get Real and Any Day Now. Since 2000 he has directed Soul Food, Strong Medicine, CSI, Ed, Lizzie McGuire, The Guardian, dr. vegas and was both director and supervising producer to CBS TV’s The District. Scott’s movie credits include: The Cheetah Girls (2003), Play’d A Hip-Hop Story (2002), and Crash Course (1988).

Scott has received the NAACP Image Award, the Drama Desk Award, and a Village Voice Obie Award for off Broadway, Genesis Award and the Nancy Susan Reynolds Award. He serves on the board of directors of the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, the Deans Council for California State University at Northridge’s College of Arts, Media and Communication. Scott directed the video that introduced Rev. Jesse L. Jackson to the 1988 Democratic National Convention and the Nelson Mandela Rally for Freedom at the Los Angeles Coliseum in 1990.

Accession Number

A2005.109

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/26/2005

10/2/2005

Last Name

Scott

Marital Status

Married

Schools

Mount Vernon High School

Graham Elementary School

Pemberton School

Bad Kreuznach American High School

Baumholder Middle School/High School

Antioch College

New York University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Oz

Birth City, State, Country

Hampton

HM ID

SCO04

Favorite Season

Fall, Spring, Summer

State

Virginia

Favorite Quote

Go With The Flow.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Interview Description
Birth Date

9/16/1949

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Chicken, Salmon

Short Description

Stage director, television director, and television producer Oz Scott (1949 - ) brought, "For Colored Girls Who Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf," by Ntozake Shange to Broadway. Scott has also produced or directed episodes of The Jeffersons, Archie Bunker’s Place, The Cosby Show and 227, among many more.

Employment

Arena Stage

Hollywood - various networks and studios

Favorite Color

Blue, Red

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Oz Scott's interview, session 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Oz Scott lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Oz Scott describes his mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Oz Scott describes his mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Oz Scott recalls his maternal grandfather and his mother's early life

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Oz Scott describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Oz Scott recalls his father's service in the U.S. Army

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Oz Scott recalls his father's experience with race relations in the U.S. Army

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Oz Scott describes his father's ministry and how his parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Oz Scott describes growing up with his parents

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Oz Scott recalls his father as a professor at City College of New York

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Oz Scott recalls his parents' association with Leonard Jeffries

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Oz Scott describes his brother, Michael Scott

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Oz Scott describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Oz Scott retells a story about Richard Pryor's experience in the U.S. Army

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Oz Scott describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Oz Scott recalls his travels as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Oz Scott recalls his paternal grandfather moving to Germany

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Oz Scott describes himself as a young boy, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Oz Scott describes himself as a young boy, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Oz Scott recalls his mother's treatment with cortisone in the 1960s

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Oz Scott reflects upon his mother's influence on his artistic pursuits

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Oz Scott recalls his interest in television and its influence on his work

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Oz Scott recalls the schools that he attended

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Oz Scott recalls the plays that he watched as a schoolboy

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Oz Scott recalls his interest in reading

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Oz Scott describes his father's religious affiliation

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Oz Scott recalls his extracurricular activities at Mount Vernon High School

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Oz Scott describes the race demographics of Mount Vernon, New York

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Oz Scott recalls his high school's athletics

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Oz Scott recalls his decision to attend Friends World Institute in Long Island

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Oz Scott describes his experience in Mexico

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Oz Scott recalls attending Marlboro College and Antioch College

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Oz Scott recalls his experience working at Arena Stage

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Oz Scott recalls his science studies at Antioch College

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Slating of Oz Scott's interview, session 2

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Oz Scott describes his experience as a taxi driver in New York City

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Oz Scott describes his decision to join New York University's directing program

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Oz Scott describes his first year at New York University

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Oz Scott describes recalls meeting HistoryMaker Ntozake Shange

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Oz Scott describes how he brought 'For Colored Girls' to stage

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Oz Scott recalls meeting his future wife

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Oz Scott remembers realizing his calling as a director

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Oz Scott recalls directing a documentary film in New Orleans

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Oz Scott recalls his first opportunity to direct a Hollywood film

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Oz Scott recalls working on the script for 'Bustin Loose'

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Oz Scott describes his experience directing 'Bustin' Loose'

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Oz Scott recalls the cast of 'Bustin' Loose'

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Oz Scott describes filming the Ku Klux Klan scene in 'Bustin' Loose,' pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Oz Scott describes filming the Ku Klux Klan scene in 'Bustin' Loose,' pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Oz Scott recalls Vincent Price's acting in 'Bustin' Loose'

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Oz Scott reflects upon Richard Pryor's career as an actor

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Oz Scott recalls marrying his wife and starting a family

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Oz Scott recalls his start in directing television shows

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Oz Scott describes the pace of directing television shows

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Oz Scott recalls the TV series that he directed before 'The Cosby Show'

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Oz Scott reflects upon the importance of ratings in Hollywood

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Oz Scott recalls resuming his career as a director after a break

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Oz Scott recalls directing the show 'Picket Fences'

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Oz Scott recalls his involvement in theatre

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Oz Scott recalls his involvement in the 1988 Democratic National Convention

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Oz Scott recalls directing Nelson Mandela's rally in Los Angeles in 1990

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Oz Scott recalls his community affairs involvement in Los Angeles

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Oz Scott recalls directing 'The Old Settler' in Russia

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Oz Scott reflects upon his work as a director, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Oz Scott reflects upon his work as a director, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Oz Scott recalls his experience directing a motion-based platform ride

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Oz Scott reflects upon his goals in television, film and theatre

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Oz Scott reflects upon his career

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Oz Scott reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Oz Scott describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Oz Scott reflects upon making artistic endeavors profitable

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Oz Scott talks about his family, pt. 1

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Oz Scott talks about his family, pt. 2

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Oz Scott describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Oz Scott narrates his photographs

DASession

2$2

DATape

5$6

DAStory

5$6

DATitle
Oz Scott describes recalls meeting HistoryMaker Ntozake Shange
Oz Scott describes filming the Ku Klux Klan scene in 'Bustin' Loose,' pt. 2
Transcript
I survived one year doing it, and the second year [at New York University (NYU), New York, New York] I went to my film teachers, Beta Baca [ph.] who was my camera teacher and Ian Maitland who was editing and I said, "Guys, I gotta make a choice," because they said, "Are you going to stay in film or you going to stay in theatre?" Everybody, both departments were wide open to me and both of them said, "Oz [HistoryMaker Oz Scott], get a good editor and get a good DP [director of photography]. They can help you learn the camera. They can help you learn the techniques that you need." Beta said, "Come and take my color emulsion class, I do it five weeks, five, five seminars. After that, he said, you can learn the camera within a year or two. It's going to take you a lifetime to learn the actors so it's best to start now." And so I stayed in theatre. I mean, that and the fact that theatre program, to get a master's [degree], was a two-year program and film was a three-year program, I figured, two years, and I thought it was very good because I, it was learning the actors, it was working with actors which I still think is a very strong element to my directing. So, so the second year I was doing a lot of stage managing for Joe Papp [Joseph Papp]. I did a play by Miguel Pinero called 'The Sun Always Shines for the Cool' which becomes a whole another story because I got a, I was hanging out with Ifa [Ifa Bayeza], guess what her name, at this, now her name is Ifa Bayeza, who's [HistoryMaker] Ntozake Shange's sister and Ifa introduced me to Ntozake and Ntozake, and Ifa said, "Why don't you take, why don't you give Oz your poems and let him make 'em into a play." And so Ntozake gave me her poems and we set about making them into a play. I said, "Zake, I will make them into a play but you have to get me a venue. Get me a venue, I'll give you a award-winning play." I was very cocky back then and she came back to me the next day and she had gotten a bar on the Lower East Side [New York, New York], a Puerto Rican bar on the Lower East Side without a door between the back room and the bar where they served the fried chicken and they, it was like a block up from where Slugs' [Slugs' Saloon] had been on--in Alphabet City [New York, New York] and we did--Del Monte's was the bar, and we proceeded to do 'For Colored Girls' ['For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When The Rainbow Is Enuf,' Ntozake Shange]. That December, we had two, she had gotten two Saturday nights--.$$Now, now what year is this?$$This is 1975.$$Okay.$$I graduated NYU in 1974 and, I mean, so we ended up doing the first part of 'For Colored Girls' in 1975, December.$Cut to the bus. Again, this is all made up. I don't have a clue what, what's going on. I don't know what I'm doing. I'm just saying, okay, let's try this. The words Richard [Richard Pryor] is coming up with on the spot. I'm just--again, this is sort of like 'Dreamland' back in New Orleans [Louisiana]. I'm coming up with, "Here's the situation, I don't know what you're going to say, but here's the situation." So, it turns out, I had the blind kid sitting in the front seat and Richard pulls the, has the Klansman come on with the hood and the Klansman comes on, Richard comes on behind, and I said, "Okay, oh, I got it, I got it, I got it." I told the blind kid to reach up and grab the sheet off the Klansman and pull it off, de- defrock him; and I said, "Richard," and then I said, "all the kids, you're all blind." And so, so Richard started, he said, "Okay," he, he's like, they start, and he said, "They're blind, they're all blind, they're all blind," and he gets the Klansman off, you know, off the bus and at this point I, I was lost. I said, "Richard, I don't have a clue what you're going to say now. Say something to him, but we've got the scene. I can cut the scene this way," and Richard right there, on the spot, without, was not the night before, we just, I just created that scene right there on the spot. He said, "We're on our way to the Ray Charles Institute for the Blind to get that miracle operation. They've been running it on the Oral Roberts show, and I know they run it in your area," (laughter) and I had this old stuntman as playing the Klansman and he said, "Okay, get back on the bus, get on the bus; we'll give you a push." And Richard looks at him, and this is Richard, and he just says, "You're a great American and great human being. Thank you," and he gets on the bus. The place falls out. The crew is just rolling. I mean it's just a brilliant, brilliant moment and I said to Richard, "Do it again." Richard goes off. "Oh, Mr. Director wants me to do it again. Oh, I'm going to do it again because Mr. Director wants me to do it." And he was furious because he had got it. He knew he had nailed it. So he gets on there, he does the same line, "You're a great American and a great human being," and then he grabs the Klansman by the head and he pulls him to him and gives him a mouth-to-mouth kiss; and the poor Klansman you could just see him, the actor went (makes sound) (laughter) and Richard gets on the bus and the place just, I mean, it erupted with applause. It was just, and Richard turned to me as he walked off the bus and said, "So you knew, fuck you," and he walked to his (gesture)--what I knew was he had to top himself. I didn't know how he was going to top what he had done, which was already brilliant, but he, he did it, he topped it. There are scenes in the film where I have told Richard, when he's walking off the back of the bus, I said, "Oh, Richard, I got this idea, this is great. When you go to get the, I want you to go off the back of the bus," and I said, "somebody give me a shovel, give me a shovel." So I started digging a ditch and I poured water in it and mud and I said, "Richard, when you jump down, you're going to go down into this water and you're going to fall and you're going to flop around and you're going to be all--." "Oh, and you think that's funny. The, I'm going to fall in the mud. You think that's funny." Richard walked, he's walking down the bus talking about, "F him, F you, F you," (makes sounds) and he was talking about me. I kept it in the film. I'm like, and he goes off and he does the whole flopping around and he's great. He's just, you know, so, 'Bustin' Loose' we did that. Richard burnt himself up. Scenes were shot after they were in the film; and that's 'Bustin' Loose.'

Julian Marvin Swain

Dancer, choreographer, and entertainer Julian Marvin Swain was born on December 18, 1924 in Chicago, Illinois. Raised by his mother, Sarah Elizabeth Davis Swain, he attended Stephen A. Douglas Elementary School and Wendell Phillips High School. At Chicago’s Southside Community Arts Center, Swain met artists like Margaret Goss Burroughs and Gordon Parks and took lessons with dancers Lester Goodman, Lucille Ellis, Wilbert Bradley, Sammy Dyer, Tommy Gomez and Jimmy Payne. Swain performed with Carmencita Romero in the Annual Artists Ball at the Savoy. In 1940, Swain traveled with Romero and danced in Toronto before learning about African dance in New York from Senegal’s Assadata Dafora.

Returning to Chicago, Swain worked as one of choreographer Lon Fontaine’s “Beige Beaus” at the Beige Room. Swain then became choreographer and lead dancer at Chicago’s Club DeLisa, but gained his greatest notoriety as a member of the Co-Op Trio with Peter Green and Ann Henry. The Co-Ops performed with top acts like Count Basie and in venues like Larry Steele’s Club Harlem in Atlantic City, New Jersey and Arthur Bragg’s Idlewild Review in Michigan. In the 1960s, Swain continued to perform ballet and modern and ethnic dance and in 1971, he formed the Julian Swain Inner City Dance Theatre at Malcolm X College.

As a singer and actor Swain has performed in various musical reviews and revivals including Okoro Harold Johnson’s Don’t Get Around Much Anymore, Randall Johnson’s Le Stardust Revue, A Tribute to Duke Ellington, Chuck Hoenes’ Best of the Hit Paraders and Sugar. Featured in the The Blues Brothers, Swain also performed in Carlos Santana and Michelle Branch’s “The Game of Love” video. A dance panelist for the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, Swain also participates in Dance Africa. A recipient of the Black Theatre Alliance Award, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley honored Swain with the 2004 Chicago Senior Citizen Award.

Accession Number

A2005.075

Sex

Male

Interview Date

3/23/2005

Last Name

Swain

Maker Category
Marital Status

Single

Middle Name

Marvin

Occupation
Schools

Wendell Phillips Academy High School

John J. Pershing West Middle School

Douglas Elementary School

Malcolm X College

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Julian

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

SWA01

Favorite Season

Fall, Spring

State

Illinois

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Interview Description
Birth Date

12/8/1924

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

USA

Death Date

4/19/2011

Short Description

Choreographer and dancer Julian Marvin Swain (1924 - 2011 ) formed the Co-Op Trio, which performed with Count Basie and Duke Ellington. Swain was also the founder of the Julian Swain Inner City Dance Theatre and Julian Swain and Friends, and was a dance panelist for the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs.

Employment

Barat College

Roosevelt University

Truman College

Malcom X College

Columbia College Chicago

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Julian Marvin Swain's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Julian Marvin Swain lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Julian Marvin Swain talks about his maternal family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Julian Marvin Swain talks about his mother's childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Julian Marvin Swain talks about his father's background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Julian Marvin Swain remembers his mother's professions

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Julian Marvin Swain describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Julian Marvin Swain describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Julian Marvin Swain remembers babysitting Melvin King

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Julian Marvin Swain recalls his early artistic influences

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Julian Marvin Swain recalls his early formal dance training at the South Side Community Art Center in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Julian Marvin Swain remembers the South Side Community Art Center in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Julian Marvin Swain remembers HistoryMaker Katherine Dunham and her dancers

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Julian Marvin Swain talks about his early dance performances

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Julian Marvin Swain remembers performing under Sammy Dyer

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Julian Marvin Swain remembers Carmencita Romero

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Julian Marvin Swain recalls his and neighbor Melvin King's early artistic inclinations

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Julian Marvin Swain remembers being a sideshow performer as his first gig outside Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Julian Marvin Swain describes the obstacles faced by African American performers

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Julian Marvin Swain talks about HistoryMaker Jackie Taylor's career

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Julian Marvin Swain gives advice to African Americans who aspire to be artists

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Julian Marvin Swain recalls his experience as a carnival performer in Canada

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Julian Marvin Swain remembers being stranded in New York, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Julian Marvin Swain recalls his introduction to African dance

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Julian Marvin Swain talks about Babatunde Olatunji

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Julian Marvin Swain remembers returning to Chicago, Illinois after being stranded in New York, New York

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Julian Marvin Swain recalls meeting HistoryMaker Najwa I

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Julian Marvin Swain compares Larry Steele's 'Smart Affairs' and Arthur Braggs' 'Idlewild Revue'

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Julian Marvin Swain recalls performing in Larry Steele's 'Smart Affairs' and Arthur Braggs' 'Idlewild Revue'

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Julian Marvin Swain remembers becoming the Beige Beaus' choreographer

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Julian Marvin Swain recalls the Co-Op Trio

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Julian Marvin Swain remembers his choreography career

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Julian Marvin Swain recalls performing alongside Josephine Baker as part of the Co-Op Trio

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Julian Marvin Swain remembers Josephine Baker

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Julian Marvin Swain describes highlights of his performance career

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Julian Marvin Swain talks about his dancing development

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Julian Marvin Swain talks about his ballet training

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Julian Marvin Swain recalls his decision to start a dance company

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Julian Marvin Swain remembers establishing the Julian Swain Inner City Dance Theatre at Malcolm X College in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Julian Marvin Swain talks about performing at FESTAC '77 in Lagos, Nigeria

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Julian Marvin Swain talks about the transition of the Julian Swain Inner City Dance Theatre into NAJWA Dance Corps

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Julian Marvin Swain describes his return to singing

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Julian Marvin Swain describes his hopes for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Julian Marvin Swain reflects upon his life

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Julian Marvin Swain reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Julian Marvin Swain describes his mother's reaction to his artistic pursuits

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Julian Marvin Swain describes how he would like to be remembered and concludes his interview

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Julian Marvin Swain narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$5

DAStory

8$6

DATitle
Julian Marvin Swain remembers being a sideshow performer as his first gig outside Chicago, Illinois
Julian Marvin Swain remembers establishing the Julian Swain Inner City Dance Theatre at Malcolm X College in Chicago, Illinois
Transcript
Now, how long did you stay in Chicago [Illinois], you know, dancing, before you actually you know left the city? 'Cause you--there' a story I know you have about going to New York [New York] with Carmencita [Romero], I think?$$I went--Carmencita, the first gig that we ever had--when I say gig, I mean the first major booking that we had outside of Chicago--we went to Montreal--Toronto, Canada to be in a carnival, and the carnival was a sideshow, and they used Carmencita's group, about three or four of her dancers as the wild men from Borneo, and we were in a sideshow--you know, where they have the fire eaters, and the sword eaters, and?$$And freaks, too?$$And freaks right, the man with the snakeskin, and the woman with the beard, and that kind of stuff, well.$$So everything that's supposed to be exotic, or is supposed to be some--?$$Well, it wasn't, it wasn't--they didn't have that, an exotic in this tent. This was all different, strange, freakish presentations.$$Okay so you all had to pretend to be from Borneo?$$We were supposedly the wild men from Borneo. They booked Carmencita's group, and she took us up there to be the wild men from Borneo.$$So, what did you--how did you feel about that at the time, you know, going up to be a wild man from Borneo?$$Well, you know, you must remember the time, and the time was when blacks were very, very ostracized, and you did whatever you could do, by any means necessary. You'd be a Stepin Fetchit [Lincoln Perry] if necessary, because that's what made Stepin Fetchit, Stepin Fetchit. By the way, he used to live catty-corner across the street from me and Butterbeans and Susie's [Jodie Edwards and Susie Edwards] house, but he is someone who is a comedic pioneer in the business that is very much looked down on--but people do not think about the times, and how hard it was for black people at that time. They even kind of look at Bill Robinson, Bill Bojangles Robinson, in that kind of way, because that was the only kind of work they could get, his Uncle Tom roles, and you did what you had to do in order to do what you wanted to do.$I approached Arnell [Pugh], or [HistoryMaker] Najwa [I] as you call her, and told her what I envisioned, and she was very helpful and supportive in helping me to develop what my dream was at that time, and it was to develop a company, and so we really started kind of started from scratch, because we started over at Malcolm X College [Chicago, Illinois]. It was young teenagers, undisciplined; young teenagers with no sense of worth. That, it was a very difficult process to inspire them to even want to dance and, in approaching them, especially the males, you could not approach them balletically [ph.], 'cause no black dancers was interested in no ballet. They definitely wasn't putting on no tights, so you had to approach them with, first, something that highlighted their blackness and their maleness, and the only way you could do that was through some form of ethnic or African-oriented dance, and so that was my approach to the black male, because he would not have accepted anything classical that I would have offered him, and soon as they became and showed some kind of proficiency, it had a great influence on their personal development as far as self-evaluation is concerned and as far as their personal worth, because when we started dancing with these teenagers, it was like on the corner of alleys in the summer with [HistoryMaker] Phil Cohran on summer programs out of Malcolm X College, and they finally got good enough where they could get on the grass and dance, and then they finally progressed enough to where they could get on portable stages, and it took a long time before I could take them to a concert situation, and between that and taking them to Africa to represent the United States was a long period of development.$$Now you started the group [Julian Swain Inner City Dance Theatre] what about 1970, you said before, was it '70 [1970]?$$Well I started to, my mother [Sarah Davis Swain] died in '70 [1970], and I must've started at Malcolm around '71 [1971], and I must've been there '72 [1972], '73 [1973], somewhere like that, and that was the nucleus that provided me with the environment in which I could begin to think about developing a company, and it also gave me access to youth and provided me with the kind of seed money or subsistence where I could nourish this young talent.