The Magic of Hollywood Circa 1940’s/50’s

To those who know me, it comes as no surprise when I say that I am obsessed with old people. I envy the wise words they say, the unparalleled experiences they have held on to for so many years, and most of all, the culture of entertainment they still hold dear to their hearts.

Let me backtrack a bit here and tell you that I have a very close relationship with my grandfather. Instead of meeting men my age and going on dates on Friday nights, I haul up with some chips, dip, my grandpa, and a classic movie. Every week is a different movie, as he’s had ample time to browse TCM (Turner Classic Movies, the Holy Grail of elderly entertainment), to find the perfect movie to “culture” me with, as he likes to put it.

From Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Bad Day at Black Rock to Sabrina and Inherit the Wind, Spencer Tracy is a part of my everyday vocabulary in his house. We often talk about the difference in movies then and now, how movies were made, and the level of talent actors once had to possess due to the lack of technology. It’s actually quite eye opening to watch long cuts of effortless perfection during the musical numbers of The Music Man, and Singin’ in the Rain and try to compare it to modern-day musical movies. It’s just not the same; the magic has been lost. (I’m being dramatic, but I’m an old soul. SUE ME!)

So you can guess that when an article about Alice Barker, the 102 year old chorus line dancer during the Harlem Renaissance, came up in my timeline, I sure as hell was interested. Having been macking it long before my grandfather graced the TV on a leather recliner in the Wayfair commercial, Barker aka “Chicken Little” was busy dancing alongside legends including Frank Sinatra, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson and Gene Kelly. She had never seen herself dance before until recently, thanks to the digging in archives done by Jazz on Film.

Her dancing was not only amazing, but her spirit was inspirational. She said, “I used to often say to myself, I am being paid to do something that I enjoy doing, and I would do it for free because it just felt so good doing it.” Now THAT is what everyone should be saying when they are sitting in a hospital room at the age of 102, amiright?!

Check out the video below! DISCLAIMER: you might tear up if you are a sap like me. I love her.

Oh yeah, want to send fan mail to her nursing home? You can do that too. Casual.

Alice Barker
c/o Bishop Henry B. Hucles Episcopal Nursing Home
835 Herkimer Street
Brooklyn, NY 11233

Posted by Emily

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