Blog Post: The Apollo Theater

Grade Range: 8-12
Resource Type(s): Reference Materials
Date Posted: 7/20/2012

For a good part of the twentieth century, Harlem’s Apollo Theater was one of the most prestigious, important, and well-known venues for black entertainers. In this post, students will learn about the Schiffman family, who ran the Apollo from 1934 to 1976. In 1946, Frank Schiffman began keeping a 5”x8” card on each and every act he hired—from singers such as Ella Fitzgerald and Chuck Berry to dancers such as Honi Coles, and comedians like Redd Foxx. There are over twelve hundred such cards that indicate how the Apollo Theater worked, the economics of the black entertainment industry, and the ups and downs of stars’ drawing power. Written by John Edward Hasse, a curator in the Division of Culture and the Arts, this post is published on the Museum's "O Say Can You See?" blog.