Bricktop, 1894-1984

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Bricktop (1894-1984), international cabaret performer and nightclub owner in Paris, Mexico City, and Rome, was born Ada Beatrice Queen Victoria Louise Virginia Smith, in Alderson, West Virginia, on August 14, 1894.

From the description of Ada Beatrice "Bricktop" Smith papers, 1894-1984. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122414317

Internationally known cabaret personality Bricktop, was born Ada Beatrice Queen Victoria Louise Virginia Smith in Alderson, West Virginia in 1894. Nicknamed "Bricktop" for her red hair, she began her career as an entertainer at the age of 16, performing on the vaudeville circuit with Flournoy Miller and Aubrey Lyles in McCabe's Georgia Troubadours minstrel show, then later with the Oma Crosby Trio, and the Panama Trio with Florence Mills and Cora Green. She also performed in saloons in Chicago such as the Roy Jones' saloon and Cabaret de Champion, also known as Café Champ owned by boxer Jack Johnson, and in Harlem at Barron's Exclusive Club and Connie's Inn. Bricktop went on to own her own nightclubs in Paris (1920s and 30s), Mexico City (1940s), and Rome (1950s). Towards the end of her career she made appearances on radio broadcasts, performed at various establishments such as The Club Tango in Chicago, and introduced Josephine Baker for her "come-back" engagement at Carnegie Hall in 1973. She co-authored "Bricktop" (1983), her autobiography, with James Haskins.

From the description of Ada "Bricktop" Smith papers, 1926-1983. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122485286

Internationally known cabaret personality Bricktop, was born Ada Beatrice Queen Victoria Louise Virginia Smith in Alderson, West Virginia in 1894. Nicknamed "Bricktop" for her red hair, she began her career as an entertainer at the age of 16, performing on the vaudeville circuit with Flournoy Miller and Aubrey Lyles in McCabe's Georgia Troubadours minstrel show, then later with the Oma Crosby Trio, and the Panama Trio with Florence Mills and Cora Green. She also performed in saloons in Chicago such as the Roy Jones' saloon and Cabaret de Champion, also known as Café Champ owned by boxer Jack Johnson, and in Harlem at Barron's Exclusive Club and Connie's Inn. Bricktop went on to own her own nightclubs in Paris (1920s and 30s), Mexico City (1940s), and Rome (1950s). Towards the end of her career she made appearances on radio broadcasts, performed at various establishments such as The Club Tango in Chicago, and introduced Josephine Baker for her "come-back" engagement at Carnegie Hall in 1973. She co-authored "Bricktop" (1983), her autobiography, with James Haskins.

From the guide to the Ada "Bricktop" Smith papers, 1926-1983, (The New York Public Library. Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division.)

Bricktop (1894-1984), international cabaret performer and nightclub owner in Paris, Mexico City, and Rome, was born Ada Beatrice Queen Victoria Louise Virginia Smith, in Alderson, West Virginia, on August 14, 1894. Bricktop left the U.S. in 1924 for a limited European engagement; however, her stay in Paris lasted almost two decades and catapulted her to international fame with the first in a series of "Bricktop's" clubs. In 1950, Bricktop returned to Europe after moving to the States during World War II, and reopened her nightclub in Paris. Soon after she moved to Rome, where the last "Bricktop's" reigned until 1964. While in Rome, Bricktop--who had converted to Catholicism in 1949--developed relationships with Italian clergy and offered financial support to a variety of religious charities. Returning to the U.S. from 1965-1968, and then permanently in 1970, Bricktop continued to perform and remained a sought-after international personality until her death on February 1, 1984. Bricktop met Jodi Desmond (1925-2008), a California native also known as Josephina Desimone, in Rome during the 1950s.

From the description of Letters to Jodi Desmond, 1958-1972. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 696827261

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Bricktop, 1894-1984. Letters to Jodi Desmond, 1958-1972. Emory University Library, Special Collect Department
referencedIn Nicolas Slonimsky Collection, 1873-1997, (bulk 1920-1990) Music Division Library of Congress
referencedIn Voices from the Food Revolution: People Who Changed The Way Americans Eat, An oral history project conducted by Judith Weinraub, 2009-2011 Fales Library & Special Collections
referencedIn American Vaudeville Museum collection, 1845-2007, (bulk 1910-1940) University of Arizona Libraries, Library Special Collections
creatorOf Bricktop, 1894-1984. Ada "Bricktop" Smith papers, 1926-1983. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
creatorOf Bricktop, 1894-1984. Ada Beatrice "Bricktop" Smith papers, 1894-1984. Emory University Library, Special Collect Department
creatorOf Ada "Bricktop" Smith papers, 1926-1983 The New York Public Library. Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division.
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith American Museum of Vaudeville corporateBody
associatedWith Blackwell, Earl. person
associatedWith Bunche, Ralph J. (Ralph Johnson), 1904-1971. person
associatedWith Cullen, Frank, 1936- person
associatedWith Desmond, Jodi, 1925-2008. person
associatedWith De Wolfe, Elsie, 1865-1950. person
associatedWith Dunn, James C. (James Clement), 1890-1979. person
associatedWith Haskins, James, 1941-2005. person
associatedWith Jordan, Jack, 1929- person
associatedWith McNeilly, Donald, 1945- person
associatedWith Omarr, Sydney. person
associatedWith Porter, Cole, 1891-1964. person
associatedWith Shannon, Hugh. person
associatedWith Slonimsky, Nicolas, 1894-1995 person
associatedWith Van Vechten, Carl, 1880-1964. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
France
United States
France--Paris
Italy--Rome
Italy--Rome
Mexico--Mexico City
Subject
Women singers--United States
African Americans in the performing arts
Women singers
African Americans--Religion
African American business enterprises
African American women entertainers
Businesswomen
Nightclubs
African American women
African American singers
African American entertainers
African American businesspeople
Music-halls (Variety-theaters, cabarets, etc.)
Music-halls (Variety-theaters, cabarets, etc.)--France
Occupation
Entertainers
Function

Person

Birth 1894-08-14

Death 1984-02-01

Americans

English

Information

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