A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from December 28, 2017
La Grosse Pomme (Paris nightclub, 1937)

American-born UK-based jazz singer and entertainer Adelaide Hall (1901-1993) and her husband, Bertram Hicks, opened a nightclub called La Grosse Pomme (French for “The Big Apple") in Paris on December 9, 1937. This was after Harlem’s Big Apple club opened in 1934, and during the height of 1937’s Big Apple dance craze.

The New York (NY) Times reported on October 12, 1988:

“Miss (Adelaide—ed.) Hall believes she and her husband coined the Big Apple as a nickname for New York City. La Grosse Pomme was the name of the Parisian club the couple opened in 1936.”

La Grosse Pomme obviously did not coin “The Big Apple.” The club was sold and closed on December 10, 1938.

Hall and Hicks were not associated with the Harlem’s 1934 Big Apple club. The 2012 and 2017 articles in Harlem World Magazine (below) are incorrect.


Wikipedia: Adelaide Hall
Adelaide Louise Hall (20 October 1901 – 7 November 1993) was an American-born UK-based jazz singer and entertainer. Her long career spanned more than 70 years from 1921 until her death and she was a major figure in the Harlem Renaissance. Hall entered the Guinness Book of World Records in 2003 as the world’s most enduring recording artist having released material over eight consecutive decades. She performed with major artists such as Art Tatum, Ethel Waters, Josephine Baker, Louis Armstrong, Lena Horne, Cab Calloway, Fela Sowande Rudy Vallee and Jools Holland, and recorded as a jazz singer with Duke Ellington (with whom she made her most famous recording, “Creole Love Call” in 1927) and with Fats Waller.
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In 1937, Hall choreographed her own take on the famous French dance the Can-can; she called it the Canned Apple and would perform it at her Montmartre nightclub La Grosse Pomme.

7 April 1983, Newsday (Long Island, NY), “Applause for Adelaide Hall’s sublime songs” by Jerry Parker, pt. 2, pg. 37, col. 4:
Black entertainers were much in vogue in Europe. Hall and her husband, a Trinidad native named Bert Hicks, rode the wave by opening a nightclub called La Grosse Pomme (The Big Apple) on the rue Pigalle. After four years, they shifted to London, so that Hall could accept an offer to star on the West End.

11 October 1988, Newsday (Long Island, NY), “Cabaret, Recalled Revived” by Blake Green, pt. 2, pg. 11:
Her )Adelaide Hall—ed.) husband, Bert Hicks, a merchant seaman who was a native of Trinidad (their marriage gave her dual citizenship), decided to open a nightclub in Paris, La Gros Pomme, which had people talking about The Big Apple long before its association with New York. “Maurice Chevalier came, Charles Boyer came,” Hall said. “Josephine came. Stephane Grappelly. Django Reinhardt—people would follow him anywhere.”

12 October 1988, New York (NY) Times, “A Long Way From Beads and Feathers of the 20’s” by Stephen Holden, pg. C20, col. 3:
Miss (Adelaide—ed.) Hall believes she and her husband coined the Big Apple as a nickname for New York City. La Grosse Pomme was the name of the Parisian club the couple opened in 1936.

“Though it was a very tiny place, it was a big success,” the singer recalled. “You could cram at most 200 people in it, and everyone came—Charles Boyer, Maurice Chevalier, Mistinguett, Josephine Baker, Stephane Grappelli—I could keep going and going.”

After two years, however, they sold their interests and moved to London, where they opened another club, the Old Florida, which catered to the British armed services and which was destroyed during the blitz.

Harlem World Magazine
The Big Apple Night Club, 1934 (video)
Posted on 02/08/2012 by Carolyn
In 1934, the Big Apple Night Club founded by Bertram Errol Hicks opened in Harlem on the northwest corner of West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue across the street from the Savoy, and his wife the legendary Adelaine Hall-Hicks was the official business manager. One of the club’s most enduring legacy was the sign set in the fake stone exterior of the building — a brown stucco coat of arms featuring an upside-down apple painted red and overlaid in white letters.
(This is incorrect. Hicks and Hall opened La Grosse Pomme in Paris in 1937. Also, the Big Apple club was across the street from Smalls Paradise, not the Savoy Ballroom.—ed.)

Entrée to Black Paris
Thursday, December 4, 2014
Adelaide Hall’s Paris Years
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After a couple of false starts, including a short-lived upscale club on the Champs Elysées, they settled on a location at 73, rue Pigalle. They opened the doors of La Grosse Pomme (The Big Apple) on December 9, 1937 and weathered a slow start to become the toast of Paris. Joseph, their Senegalese doorman, was the man to impress if you wanted to gain entry. Within a short period of time, Adelaide became known as the “Queen of Montmartre” and the club was dubbed the most fashionable of the city.

During its heyday, La Grosse Pomme employed almost 40 persons. Even the great Bricktop worked their briefly, just a few yards from the club that she had to close for lack of business.

The loom of war and the September 28th announcement by the U. S. government that American citizens without a compelling reason to remain in Paris should plan to return home prompted Bert’s decision to sell the club. It closed on December 10, 1938.

Black Then
ADELAIDE LOUISE HALL: JAZZ ICON DURING THE HARLEM RENAISSANCE
POSTED BY JAE JONES - JULY 18, 2017 - BLACK WOMEN, ENTERTAINMENT
Jazz singer and entertainer Adelaide Louise Hall had a career that spanned more than 70 years until her death. A major icon during the Harlem Renaissance, she entered into the Guinness Book of World Records in 2003 as the world’s most enduring recording artist having released material over eight consecutive decades.

Hall was born in Brooklyn, New York, on October 20, 1901, to Elizabeth and Arthur William Hall. She began performing in 1921 on Broadway in the chorus line of Nobel Sissle’s and Eubie Blake’s musical “Shuffle Along.” She married in 1924 to a British sailor, Bertram Errol Hicks. Hicks became Hall’s manager and opened a short-lived club in Harlem, “The Big Apple.”

Harlem World Magazine
Adelaide Louise Hall’s Rich Harlem History, 1901 – 1993 (Audio Video)
Posted on 12/14/2017 by Harlem World Magazine
Adelaide Louise Hall, 20 October 1901 – 7 November 1993, was an American-born UK-based jazz singer and entertainer. Her long career spanned more than 70 years from 1921 until her death and she was a major figure in the Harlem Renaissance.
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Marriage, 1924
In 1924, Hall married a British sailor Bertram Errol Hicks, born in Trinidad and Tobago. Soon after their marriage he opened a short-lived club in Harlem, New York, called ‘The Big Apple‘ and became her official business manager.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityThe Big Apple1970s-present: False Etymologies • Thursday, December 28, 2017 • Permalink