Amateur Night at the Apollo

As founder and emcee of the legendary Amateur Night at the Apollo Theatre, Ralph Cooper has been pushing jittery unknowns onstage for the past 50 years, and stars from Ella Fitzgerald to Luther Vandross have found their calling at his prodding. Cooper’s life away from the Apollo has been equally adventurous: He was one of the only black men to travel the white vaudeville circuit in the ’30s; he spent five years acting and directing in Hollywood, where he was dubbed ”Dark Gable”; he worked as a human rights arbitrator under New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller in the ’60s. Unfortunately, Amateur Night at the Apollo: Ralph Cooper Presents Five Decades of Great Entertainment doesn’t do his story justice. As a pivotal figure in American pop culture and black history, Cooper deserves better. D

Amateur Night at the Apollo
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