Archives for : VINTAGE




Some of the venues on the Chitlin’ Circuit were the Cotton Club  and Apollo Theaters in New York City, Regal Theatre in Chicago, Howard  Theatre in Washington, D.C., Fox Theater in Detroit and the Uptown  Theatre in Philadelphia, and a bunch of 1 night stand places in the  middle. A lot of these acts played Idlewild to incorporate some  relaxation along with work. Many of these fabulously talented artists started on the  chitlin’ circuit, including Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, Ella  Fitzgerald, Lena Horne, Etta James, Billie Holiday, Count Basie, Dorothy  Dandridge, Sammy Davis Jr., Ray Charles, .

The Supremes, Moms Mabley, Ike and Tina Turner ,George Benson, B.B. King, Richard Pryor, Muddy Waters, Aretha Franklin, Smokey Robinson, Redd Foxx, Patti LaBelle, Jimi Hendrix, Gladys Knight & the Pips, The  Temptations, John Lee Hooker, Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, The Isley  Brothers, and The Four Tops.

( The dancers were love with Otis) And a Motortown Revue Dancer named Donna Dixon….I met Donna on the phone as she called into me for tech support a few years ago. It was just before the holidays and we struck up a long conversation as I fixed her computer problems. Donna was a backup dancer for the Funk Brother’s band.

They were the massively talented studio musicians that created the “Motown Sound” See a bit of their movie:Standing in the Shadows of Motown The touring company of acts from Motown were called the Motor Town Revue.

Idlewild became known as the “Black Eden of Michigan”. As this new black intelligentsia began to settle in the community, some relocated as activists and members of Marcus Mosiah Garvey‘s Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), some as followers of Du Bois’ National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), others as believers of the late Booker T. Washington‘s political machine, and others as potential investors. For the majority of these professionals who brought their families, the idea of land ownership conveyed black social status and membership in this community.

Idlewild gained national stature among African Americans during the period between the World Wars. For example, the Idlewild Land Owners Association had members from over thirty-four states in the country. In addition, the Purple Palace, Paradise Clubhouse, Idlewild Clubhouse, Rosanna Tavern, and Pearl’s Bar provided summer entertainment for tourists and employment opportunities for seasonal and year-round residents in the community. The Pere Marquette Railroad built a branch line to the area by 1923. A post office opened that same year. The Idlewild Fire Department was established, and a host of new entrepreneurs began entering the community. Paradise Palace became McKnight’s Convalescent Home.

Following World War II, Idlewild attracted what some sociologists have labeled the new African American “working” middle class. With the construction of a few paved roads in Idlewild, a reinvestment in the township’s only post office, and greater availability of electricity, a new generation of entrepreneurs began to invest in Idlewild. Phil Giles, Arthur “Big Daddy” Braggs, and a host of other African American businessmen and women took advantage of the market by purchasing property on Williams Island and Paradise Gardens, and began developing these areas into an elaborate nightspot and business center. The cottage started by Albert Cleage in the 1940s was expanded by his sons Louis, Hugh, and Henry.

Many African American entertainers of the period performed in Idlewild. Della Reese, Al Hibbler, Bill Doggett, Jackie Wilson, T-Bone Walker, George Kirby, The Four Tops, Roy Hamilton, Brook Benton, Choker Campbell, Lottie “the Body” Graves, the Rhythm Kings, Sarah Vaughan, Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong, Dinah Washington, B.B. King, Aretha Franklin, Fats Waller, and Billy Eckstein, and many other performers, entertained both Idlewilders and white citizens in neighboring Lake County townships throughout the 1950s and early 1960s.

Arthur Braggs produced singers, dancers, showgirls, and entertainers, which helped Idlewild to become the “Summer Apollo of Michigan”. Braggs produced the famous “Arthur Braggs Idlewild Revue” which not only performed in Idlewild but was also taken on the road to Montreal, Boston, Kansas City, Chicago, New York, and other cities. Braggs’ show helped Idlewild become a major entertainment center and contributed to the financial prosperity of the area

Donna told me all the gossip “on the road”with the famous groups.She also sadly told me then how Levi Stubbs had just had a large stroke and was wheel chair bound. He would never perform again. Donna suggested I read a book that mentioned her and Donna’s picture is in it twice! The book was written by Dr. Ronald J Stephens an acclaimed expert on African American History at several large universities. It was a fascinating hour long conversation with a woman thathas lived a fascinating life in Detroit. She is still as as sparkling as her costumes were back then

Vintage Black Glamour: By Nichelle Gainer


black glamour#2


I want to thank everyone who has expressed interest in my book and, at long last, I am happy to give you some book news! The book is scheduled to be published in Spring 2014 and starting today, you can visit and …register your interest in the book.

Registering is different from pre-ordering (available starting early February). My publisher, Rocket 88 an imprint of London-based Essential Works, has created this website to establish the level in interest in the book. After you register you will be contacted by email in early 2014 with further details about the book and, if you wish, you may pre-order the book at that time. Once again, thank you so much! More links are in the comment section ~ Nichelle Gainer

Vintage Black Glamour by Nichelle Gainer (Spring 2014, Essential Works/Rocket 88 books).

Vintage Black Glamour is a forthcoming book (Spring 2014, Essential Works/Rocket 88 Books) and visual tribute to some of the glamorous, accomplished and often groundbreaking black women – legendary and obscure – of the 20th century.

Pearly Bailey: Classy Lady!



Pearl Bailey in her dressing room, 1946. Photo by Paul S. Henderson via the Maryland Historical Society.

Betsey Johnsons Girls!


Models, including Pat Cleveland, Norma Jean Darden and Ramona Sauders, join designer Betsey Johnson after her Spring 1974 show in November, 1973. Norma Darden is now the owner of Spoonbread, Inc., which includes the popular Harlem soul food restaurant, Miss Mamie’s Spoonbread Too. Photo by Pierre Schermann/Conde Nast.

Martin Luther King: Man Of Honor!



On October 14, 1964, Martin Luther King, Jr. was named winner of the Nobel Peace Prize

The Sylvers and Black Ivory:Usung!


Cleopatra Jones: 40th Anniversary!

 cleopatra_jones The 40th Anniversary of Cleopatra Jones starring Tamara Dobson…circa 1973

Muhammad Ali (Cassius Clay) Michael and Marlon

ali and mike

The Berry Gordy Story: Part 1

gordy1_thumbTHE BERRY GORDY STORY Prt1.
Mr Berry Gordy Jr was the most important non-performer in the history of Rock & Roll.During the years from 1959-1971 when his Motown Record Company headquartered in Detroit,Gordy Jr established it as the largest and most successful undependent record label in The US and a major force in the integration of popular music.


Over the years the Motown Sound has become a genre of music in itelf around the world,and its stars and hit songs have added luster to many feature films,television productions and documentaries.Berry Gordy Jr was born on Nov 28th 1929 in Detroit,Michigan,he was the 7th of 8 children raised by Berry ”Pops” Gordy and his wife Bertha who had moved from their family from Georgia to the Motor City in 1922.


The Gordy family was close-knit and hard work was stressed. The children were expected to work in either the family owned grocery  store or its plaster contracting business in Detroits inner City.

Minnie Riperton:Baby Angel


Minnie was heavenly from the very beginning. This is Minnie Riperton’s baby picture. It was taken when her family lived at 546 E. Oakwood Blvd. in Chicago, Il. Minnie’s late sister, and my dear friend, Clarice Riperton-Jackson, gave this copy to me in 1999 for my scrapbook.




Diana & Flo: Supremes Best!


ANJELICA HUSTON: Happy Birthday!


The Real Surpremes!

Supreme Mama’s…Mrs. Ernestine Ross..Mrs. Lurlee Ballard..Mrs. Johnnie Mae Wilson  🙂1004413_334123413385944_479830272_n

Early Van Dyke: Happy Birthday!


SATCHEL PAIGE: Happy Birthday!


Della Reese: Happy Birthday!


Carmen Dell’Orefice: Ageless Beauty!

Ageless beauty Carmen Dell’Orefice 82 years young is proof perfect that eating right, excercise and a positive attitude can rule the world. Vogue Italia June 2013. Loving & respecting yourself at any age is Cherokee Beauty ♥.

Vogue Italia N.754, June 2013, Editorial:  Be In Shape Ever, by Greg Lotus


JOYCE BRYANT: The Lost Diva!

joyceConsider the “Bronze Blond Bombshell’ or “The Black Marilyn Monroe”.

Joyce Bryant, singer and actress. Born in Oakland, Ca., around 1920, she came to be known as the ‘Black Marilyn’ and the “bronze blonde bombshell,” she dyed her hair with silver radiator paint before performing with Josephine Baker so as not to be upstaged; it was to become her trademark.

Motown Revue:The Early Years!

Berry Gordy’s Motortown Revue. From left: Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, Eddie Kendricks, Elbridge Bryant, Uriel Jones, Otis Williams, Paul Williams, Melvin Franklin, Diana Ross, Robert Bullock, Patrice Gordy, Florence Ballard and Mary Wilson.

Credit: Berry Gordy.1006188_681800951835628_1906410310_n

Roy Campanella: Harlem Business Man

19883_176628395846831_1473494253_nBrooklyn Dodgers catcher Roy Campanella in front of his store in Harlem (November 19, 1921 – June 26, 1993)

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