Chicago’s Roberts Show Club~ 1954-1961

The Roberts Show Club was established in 1954-1961- It was “the biggest negro nightclub in America” Dick Gregory

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See Article:

http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/herman-roberts-show-lounge-club-south-side-motel-500-room/Content?oid=15781283

 

Showgirls, Chicago’s Roberts Show Club 1950’s

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Elnorah Huff-Williamson, 5th from left

Owner, Herman Roberts (center) with  Women he Employed

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Photo taken from http://www.hermanroberts.org

Article: Everything Herman Roberts Touched Turned To Gold

Everything Herman Roberts Touched Turned to Gold: A Black History Month Lesson

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The Club Delisa~ 1938-1958

History 

The Club was owned by four DeLisa brothers, they were of Italian decent.  The Club DeLisa was legally established in 1934-1958, prior to 1934, the club operated as a speakeasy on the Chicago’s South side. The DeLisa brothers operated an illegal establishment during the prohibition. The illegitimately selling of alcoholic beverages, cock-tailed with gambling and in most cases prostitution, created the birth of “rum-running and organized crime.”

It is not known how long the club operated prior to the passing of the 18th amendment. http://www.government-and-constitution.org/amendments/18th-amendment.htm The documented history of the Club DeLisa began in 1934, one year after the 18th amendment was passed.  “In 1941, the original building burned down and was immediately replaced with the New Club DeLisa.” (DeLisa)http://clubdelisa.net/home/about-us/

LGBT Community

Club DeLisa was one of the first night spots in Chicago that catered to a diversified audience, including the LGBTs community. (Cabello) http://www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/Queer-Bronzeville-African-American-LGBTs-on-Chicagos-South-Side-1900-1985/36389.html

Articles: Queer Bronzeville: African American LGBTs on Chicago’s South Side, 1900-1985 

Queer Bronzeville

http://outhistory.org/exhibits/show/queer-bronzeville

 

“DeLisa was known as a “Black and Tan” establishment, they provided nightly entertainment in an array of show presentations that highlighted and featured jazz, blues, soul music, dancers, comedians, the DeLisa Chorines and Red Saunders and his band.” (DeLisa)  http://clubdelisa.net/home/about-us/ This hot spot was located on Garfield Boulevard at 55th and State Street on Chicago’s South side.  The personal collection of Elnorah Huff-Williamson features autographed photographs of local Chicago artist as well as famous artist. Fats Domino, Bill Doggett, and an act that included black face and Bobby Blue Bland, amongst others are featured in the collection.

 

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The Club DeLisa, Chicago, n.d

 

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Club DeLisa Chorines, Chicago 1950’s

 

Location

Old Club DeLisa was located~5512-16 S. State Street before the fire- (1933-1941)

The “New” Club DeLisa was located~5521 S. State Street- (1941-1958)

 

Red Saunders and His Band

Red Saunders and his Band were the house band for Club DeLisa more than 21 years.

 

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Taken at the New Club DeLisa, Unknown group, n.d.

Americas First Gay Community

The Jewel Box Revue

 

Somewhere around the 1950’s

While surveying the collection of Elnorah Huff-Williamson, I came across a Jewel Box Revue Program. Doing more research, I was able to pin point its origin, which was speculated to have been founded in 1939.  However, based on primary records, its physical inception indicate 1942 in Miami, FL.

Scrapbooks of Danny Brown, Co-Founder of the Jewel Box Revue

 

Lost Archives of a Chicago Showgirl

The Personal Collection of Elnorah Huff~Williamson

Louis Arm

3rd on the left, Elmorah Huff-Williamson, Louis Armstrong (center) and showgirls (Date: unknown, Location: unknown)

 

Abstract:

The personal collection of Elnorah Huff-Williams captures the private life of a showgirl. The collection provides primary sources that include photos, newspapers, programs, cards, a love letter, school records and articles from the black press. The collections primary timeline of activities are heavily concentrated in the early to mid 1950’s, giving the researcher an in-depth perspective of her active performance life.  Elnorah was one of the DeLisa Chorines that performed regularly as well as a Roberts Show club performer, another popular night spot before the Civil Rights Act.  Club DeLisa was one of the first night spots in Chicago that catered a diversified audience, including LGBTQ.  “Club DeLisa was known as a “Black and Tan” establishment, they provided nightly entertainment in an array of show presentations that highlighted and featured jazz, blues, soul music, dancers, comedians, the DeLisa Chorines and Red Saunders and his band.”  This hot spot was located on Garfield Blvd at 55th and State Street on Chicago’s South side.  The Club was owned by four DeLisa brothers, they were of Italian decent. The personal collection of Elnorah Huff-Willaims, features autographed photographs from Fats Domino, Bill Doggett, an act that included black face and Bobby Blue Bland, amongst others.