Adelaide Hall and the Blackbirds take the Moulin Rouge!
1929, with photos by Eli Lotar and Germaine Krull
The beautiful Adelaide Hall and the cast of Blackbirds backstage at the Moulin Rouge, in the German magazine Das Leben.
Blackbirds 1926 was first produced in London with Florence Mills in the lead. Mills fell ill and died before preparations began for the Broadway revival of the show. Eighteen year old Adelaide Hall succeeded Mills as the lead. The cast included Elisabeth Welch, the Berry Brothers and Bill Bojangles Robinson.
In 1929 Blackbirds travelled to Paris for an extended engagement at the Moulin Rouge. The Paris show with a cast of more than 100 African American artists was accompanied by the jazz band of the Plantation Club.
Adelaide sang biggest hit of the show "I can’t give you anything But Love, Baby".
At the end of the summer season of 1929 Blackbirds closed and the Moulin Rouge closed it doors after the last performance to begin its new life as a cinema.
Adelaide Hall settled in London in the 1930s. She had a very popular radio show and became the first Black artist to have a long term contract with the BBC. She was hugely popular during World War II and was one of the highest earning entertainers in the country.
Hear an interview with Adelaide Hall when she was in her 80s, she reflects on her experiences as a star at the Blackbirds, having her full body portrait painted astride the box office of the Moulin Rouge (!) and choses her Desert Island Discs.
**A hugh thanks to digital archive supremo holdthisphoto for making sure I saw these photos.