Glamorous Life: Vintage Black Star Power Part 1

By, Ascellia Arenas

Ahhhh…”the good ole days”…my parents and grandparents always shared stories of fancy supper clubs featuring famous performers. The gents would be wearing their finest silk suits and lovely ladies would be dressed in their opulent evening gowns. Here are a few images from the time when the music was sweet and the dancing was smooth.

Let’s take a stroll through some Historic Black Glamour through photographs.


“Lena Mary Calhoun Horne (June 30, 1917 – May 9, 2010) was an American singer, dancer, actress, and civil rights activist. Horne joined the chorus of the Cotton Club at the age of sixteen and became a nightclub performer before moving to Hollywood, where she had small parts in numerous movies, and more substantial parts in the films Cabin in the Sky and Stormy Weather. Because of the Red Scare and her left-leaning political views, Horne found herself blacklisted and unable to get work in Hollywood. Her career spanned over 70 years appearing in film, television and on broadway.”


Discover more here:  Lena Horne


John Elroy Sanford (December 9, 1922 – October 11, 1991), known professionally as  Redd Foxx, was an American comedian and actor, best remembered for his explicit comedy records and his starring role on the 1970s sitcom Sanford and Son.

Foxx gained notoriety with his raunchy nightclub acts during the 1950s and 1960s. Known as the “King of the Party Records”, he performed on more than 50 records in his lifetime. He also starred in Sanford, The Redd Foxx Show and The Royal Family. His film roles included All the Fine Young Cannibals (1960) and Harlem Nights (1989).

In 2004, Comedy Central Presents: 100 Greatest Stand-ups of All Time ranked Foxx as the 24th best stand-up comedian. Foxx not only influenced many comedians, but was often portrayed in popular culture as well, mainly as a result of his famous catchphrases, body language and facial expressions exhibited on Sanford and Son.”


Discover more here:  Redd Foxx

Hazel Dorothy Scott (June 11, 1920 – October 2, 1981) was an internationally known, American jazz and classicalpianist and singer; she also performed asHazel Scott Singing at Mulzac Dinner herself in several films. She was prominent as a jazz singer throughout the 1930s and 1940s. In 1950, she became the first woman of color to have her own TV show, The Hazel Scott Show,featuring a variety of entertainment. To evade the political persecution of artists in the McCarthy era, Scott moved to Paris in the late 1950s and performed in France, not returning to the United States until 1967.

Born in Port of Spain, Hazel was taken at the age of four by her mother to New York. Recognized early as a musical prodigy, Scott was given scholarships from the age of eight to study at the Juilliard School. She began performing in a jazz band in her teens and was performing on radio at age 16.


Discover more here:  Hazel Scott

Sheila Guyse
Actress and singer Sheila Guyse, best known for her role in the 1947 film “Sepia Cinderella,” died on December 28, 2013 in Honolulu, Hawaii at the age of 88. Ms. Guyse was born Etta Drucille Guyse on July 14, 1925, in Forest, Mississippi. After winning the amateur night competition at the Apollo Theater, she appeared in Broadway musicals like “Finian’s Rainbow” (1947) and “Lost in the Stars” (1949) along with several other film appearances including “Miracle In Harlem” in 1948.

Photo: New York Times obituary.


Discover more here:  Sheila Guyse


Harry Belafonte

Shown here on the set of ‘The Strollin’ Twenties,’ the 1965 television special he produced, with a script by Langston Hughes. The show, a celebration of the Harlem Renaissance, featured Duke Ellington, Diahann Carroll and other luminaries and aired on February 21, 1966. Photo: CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images.


Discover more here:  Harry Belafonte

There is much more where this came from!  Join the “cellibration” of Black History Month, here at  I call it African American History Month because it is important for me to emphasize and pay homage to African culture and American culture through literature, history, photographs, prose, and more.

If you are a lover of all things vintage, like me, check out the book “Vintage Black Glamour” by Nichelle Gainer.  She has curated hundreds of vintage photos documenting African-American culture and the arts. It will be a beautiful coffee table book or conversation piece at your next event.  Check it out!

Celli Arenas
Celli Arenas
Celli Arenas, published author, has been featured in several magazines, such as: MIA Magazine, Success Magazine, Legacy Magazine. She is the host blogger at, and hosts for BlogTalk Radio. Her books, “30 Days of Dynamic Pursuit” a self-help journal, and “Sidetracked: He Used To Love Me”, a coming of age novel,  are both available at

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