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(MUSIC.) Archive of photographs taken at Manhattan's famous integrated Café Society nightclub. Approximately 290 publicity photographs, most about 8 x 10 inches and a few smaller; light curling, a few with moderate wear, a variety of photographer's stamps and captions on verso. [New York], circa 1938-48
These photographs were taken at the famous Café Society nightclubs in Manhattan--generally regarded as the first important racially integrated nightclubs in America. Café Society opened on Sheridan Square in Greenwich Village in 1938, and Café Society Uptown followed two years later on East 58th Street. Owner Barney Josephson made a point of equal treatment for both performers and concertgoers of all races. The club quickly became known as a tastemaker in jazz and popular music as well as comedy. The club's slogan was "The right place for the wrong people." It became a nexus for leftist causes; the clubs closed in 1948 after skirmishes with the House Un-American Committee. These photographs were found among the papers of the club's publicist Ivan Black. They include exterior shots, the acts on stage, and shots of the crowd seated at their tables. Musicians include Count Basie, Tommy Dorsey, and Buck Clayton. A group shot includes pianist Hazel Scott, singer Mildred Bailey, Paul Robeson, and club owner Josephson. Two others show the Andrews Sisters performing a song with folksinger Josh White (illustrated). Among the celebrities identified in the crowd were author Richard Wright, politician Adam Clayton Powell, Joe Louis (in military uniform), actresses Rita Hayworth and Betty Grable, singer Frank Sinatra, Desi Arnaz with Lucille Ball, and many more. A wonderful archive of New York music and culture in the 1940s.
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