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Ada 'Bricktop' Smith (1894 — 1983)
Related: Jazz Age - Lost Generation
Ada Beatrice Queen Victoria Louise Virginia Smith, better known as Bricktop (August 14, 1894 — January 31, 1983) was an American dancer, singer, vaudevillian, and self-described saloon-keeper who owned the nightclub Chez Bricktop in Paris from 1924 to 1961, as well as clubs in Mexico City and Rome. She has been called "...one of the most legendary and enduring figures of twentieth-century American cultural history." --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ada_%22Bricktop%22_Smith [May 2006]
Bricktop was an American singer who arrived in Paris in 1924, decided to stay, and in 1926 opened a club. “Wouldn’t you?” she once explained. Boosted by the presence of regulars like Cole Porter, her place at 26 rue Pigalle became highly fashionable. The light-skinned, freckle-faced Virginian hired her entertainers out of friendship, and she happened to like Mabel Mercer, the British-born, half-American, half-black music-hall singer.
In 1926 Bricktop opened what she called “a combination nightclub, mail drop, bank, and neighborhood bar for the most elegant people.” Cole Porter auditioned many of his songs at Bricktop’s with Mabel Mercer singing them. The Prince of Wales sat in on drums. Cab Calloway and Lionel Hampton made Bricktop’s a regular stop as they passed through Paris. Hurt by the Depression and threatened by World War II, Bricktop, who called her operation “a combination nightclub, mail drop, bank, and neighborhood bar for the most elegant people,” closed the club in 1936 and left town three years later, not long before Nazis arrived and condemned jazz as entarte Musik—degenerate music. --http://www.americanheritage.com/AMHER/2000/02/jazz.shtml , Leslie Gourse in Jazz Liberates Paris, accessed Mar 2004
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