On view at the Museum of the City of New York through May 5, 2011, Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing.

Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing: How the Apollo Theater Shaped American Entertainment traces the evolution of the Apollo—from its origins as a segregated burlesque hall to its starring role at the epicenter of African American entertainment and American popular culture.  Nearly all forms of entertainment—comedy, dance, swing, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll, soul, hip hop, and more—were welcomed on the Apollo stage.  Serving as a place where African American performers could start and advance their careers, the Apollo helped to launch the careers of some of the best-known names in entertainment—dancers Charles “Cholly” Atkins, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Bill “Bojangles” Robinson; band leaders Cab Calloway and Duke Ellington; comedians Redd Foxx and Jackie “Moms” Mabley; and musicians ranging from Louis Armstrong, James Brown, and Lionel Hampton to Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin, and the Jackson Five.

Above is a detail of Apollo Theater Exterior, 2008 Photo courtesy of the Apollo Theater Foundation, Inc. Photo by Shahar Azran.

View the full photograph and the cover of the exhibitions companion book after the jump. Also, Louis Armstrong’s trumpet.

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