A 103-Year-Old Harlem Renaissance Dancer Sees Herself on Film for the First Time

The Harlem Renaissance lives in the form of Alice Barker, a soft spoken lady who just last week received a belated Happy 103rd Birthday card from the Obamas. That’s her on the right in the first clip, below. She’s in the back right at the 2:07 mark. Perched on a lunch counter stool, showing off her shapely stems at 9:32.

Barker’s newfound celebrity is an unexpected reward for one who was never a marquee name.

She was a member of the chorus—a pretty, talented, hardworking young lady, whose name was misspelled on one of the occasions when she was credited. She danced throughout the 1930s and 40s in legendary Harlem venues like the Apollo, the Cotton Club, and the Zanzibar Club. Shared the stage with Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly, and Bill “Bojangles” Robinson. Racked up a number of film, commercial and TV credits, getting paid to do something she later confided from a nursing home bed she would have gladly done for free.

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