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World by Night and Hanging Out at the Roxy

Life Story Club Contributor

Apollo Theater, New York; 1946

World by Night

In Manhattan, I was once in a documentary movie that was called “World by Night.” It was about nightclubs all around the world. And the part I was in was filmed at the Apollo [located in Manhattan, New York] about the gospel. They used to have gospel shows at the Apollo Theater on 125th Street. 

My girlfriend called me up and said, “Margot, do you wanna be in a film today?” I said, “Okay.” She said, “Be there at such and such time.” So I went and it was about the gospel shows. And in the gospel, they sing when they shout, you know? And I grew up in the Episcopal faith, so I wasn’t a shouter. But when you get the spirit you’re supposed to shout, but I didn’t like that. It bothered me to shout. 

So the director told me, “When I point to you, I want you to shout.” And I felt silly. But I said, “Oh, boy, what am I gonna do? I’m not a…” And he pointed to me and I did that. I threw up my hands like I was shouting. So I said, “Oh, I don’t want anybody to see me doing this.” It was beneath me to shout. So then they said that it wouldn’t appear in New York. It’s gonna go all around the world and not going to appear in New York.

The first place that scene appeared in was a movie called “Peyton Place.” They used to have two features, and the second feature was the documentary, “World by Night.” And I was the one they featured. I couldn’t get over this. I was the one they featured in that. And I figured nobody would see me because they said it wouldn’t appear in New York.

Then I got a call from Canada. “Oh, I saw you in a movie.” I said, “Oh, my God.” But then it was awesome. When I saw it, it was good, you know? But I can’t seem to find that documentary. It’s listed, but I don’t know where I could find it to get the copy. 

And then I appeared at the Apollo Theater for a week at the Christmas show in 1956. I think I appeared with the performers, The Drifters, Bo Diddley, Cadillacs, quite a few others, and Natalie Margot, Priscilla Bowman, and Big Maybelle, a famous singer.

In the documentary, I didn’t wanna be seen. But when I saw it, it was really nice. And I think they featured me because of the outfit I had on. I had an olive green dress and dangling earrings. I had my hair in a ponytail. I think that was the reason why they featured me.

Hanging Out at the Roxy

New York City’s last Horn & Hardart that closed in 1991, New York; 1987

When thinking about my favorite hangout spots, I’d say I liked to go to the Roxy and the Paramount. I used to love walking up and down Broadway, that was one of my hangouts. That was my beat.

I would go there with friends and there were a lot of famous people too that I used to hang out with. We used to go to Horn & Hardart, the automat, and get iced tea. Then we would take the lemons and get water, packets of sugar, and make lemonade. And my friends and I used to sit and laugh at people when they came in. We were teenagers then, acting silly. I didn’t like to laugh at people because I was a very sensitive person, but we had a lot of fun.

I also would go to dancing classes and go to rehearsals. And we used to put on shows at rehearsal. I started dancing at around the age of six because I lived in Yonkers. And when I went to the Episcopal church they used to have shows there. So I was in all the shows they had and little concerts for the children. When I moved to the Bronx, I joined the children’s choir, and then I went to the adult choir after a certain age. And in the church they would show movies and have dances on the weekend for the teenagers. We used to do the Lindy Hop and called it the Jitterbug.

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