The Video

This is the video that made Alice world famous!

A bit of backstory:

We are friends of Alice who searched for the films and made this video. I’m David Shuff, a volunteer who visits the home with my therapy dog Katie, and have known Alice for 8 years. The woman in the video is Gail Campbell, a recreation therapist (and an amazing one at that!). She never gave up on finding Alice’s films, and uncovered the first piece of the puzzle that lead to us finding them — which was the website of Alicia Thompson; a historian of black female performers who had been looking for Alice for years. It was from her site that we learned that Alice appeared in a type of film they called ‘soundies’.

Using that clue, I called the UCLA library, which has a large collection of soundies. They sent me on to jazz historian Mark Cantor of jazz-on-film.com, who had in his archives the original production notes from many soundies made in New York City at the time. At first he couldn’t find Alice’s because in the notes her name was misspelled as “Baker.” But he didn’t give up, and so he was able to send us three of Alice’s soundies from his collection, which we rushed over to show Alice as soon as we could. Shortly afterwards Alicia helped us find a few more films to show her.

The footage of Alice seeing her films was shot on cellphones (almost as an afterthought!) by my friends Darin Tatum and Tom Hunt.

We’re so thrilled that it brought so much joy to everyone and attention to Alice, who loved every minute of it. Thank you all!

Alice passed away peacefully on Wednesday, April 6th, 2016.

65 thoughts on “The Video”

  1. Thank you so much for doing all you have for Alice and for having that video filmed. Her reaction was so priceless and I have been wondering about her ever since. I sent her a card and figured many people would so it was happy to find out that she is loving the attention and recognition. Is there anything that she ‘needs’ what size gown do you think she would wear? I think it’s wonderful to bring attention…as you would know so many in nursing homes are cast off or have no family or friends to care for them and that is part of why this story is so touching not only to see Alice and her wonderful personality react to her former life as a dancer but to see her beam with life and hold a beat to the music and remember the words from so long ago was just beautiful. It gave her life back and if there were ways to do that for so many others…just give them a feeling of living back and memories and taking them to a place of such joy. I’m glad Ms. Barker is enjoying some love and I hope it trickles down to the other residents so they know they are remembered too. Thank you for doing what you did for this lady and for sharing her story! Wonderful 🙂 Lily Raywood

    1. We are so happy you liked the video of Alice! I want you to know Alice will definitely see your card if you sent one, we now have volunteers who come in to read her mail to her daily and she is so amazed so many people around the world know her. Alice says, “I thought I was forgotten and now everyone knows me and this is the greatest feeling in the world.” Thank you so much for being part of Alice’s new found family. She has no family and most of her friends are gone. Alice wears a size small dress and her favorite color is blue.

      1. I’m so Amazed at this video. I saw it earlier this year in a feed in my cell phone and I’m just running across it tonight on YouTube. It saddens me to know she has since passed but she lived a very long life and is dancing in paradise now.

        Shawn K.

  2. I am a female saxophonist/singer and one of the greatest things I get to do is perform music from Alice’s time to residents of assisted living and memory care communities. I have seen completely unresponsive folks light up, wake up and sing perfect lyric and melody when songs they remember come pouring back. Music is Life, it truly is. How I would love to come to her room and sing/sax a tune for her, maybe some Fats Waller, gosh that would be such an honor! I’d love to send Alice some music, if I may?

    1. Thanks for lovely stories Ava. That would be amazing if we could arrange you to play for her! I’m sure Alice would love to receive music as well! She has a DVD player that can play mp3 disks and CDs, which would be the best way probably. Her mailing address is on the ‘Reach Out’ page of this site, as well as the email address to write to about visiting; would be best if you could just drop a quick email and we’ll go from there. Thanks again!

  3. Hi Alice,

    I am a student nurse in the United Kingdom and It was wonderful to see you energetic when you saw yourself on the videos.

    Looking at your videos maked me more aware on how the people in your generation would appreciate music as a way of revisiting your threasure memory.

    It was an honour to see your video and I hope your well and winter is coming so keep warm 🙂

    I await your reply

    Student Nurse Patrick from United Kingdom

    1. Alice I too am dancer and love to dance. I feel the same way you do about dancing and getting paid for something you enjoy so much. I am so glad you got too see your self dancing. I enjoyed seeing it as well. Colleen McDonough

    1. I’am in tears, because it is true what you posted. What a joy to see Ms. Alice. I’am so sad to hear she passed away!

  4. Dear David & Gail,

    I happened upon the YouTube video of you, both, presenting these video treasures to Alice. I was so moved, seeing Alice’s beautiful smile and sharp recollection of her “”Soundie”” days, that I wept in joyous empathy for this dear woman and for the two angels ( David and Gail ), who so selflessly, brought so much joy to Alice.
    Did you know that in doing this for Alice, that you would touch so many people? People whom, without you both, would have never experienced the joy that you brought to this beautiful soul, Alice.
    Thank you, David and Gail, so much. I have a new appreciation for beauty that comes with graceful age. I sure do miss my grandparents, now more than ever!!

    God richly bless you, both!

    Warm Regards,
    John Schipsi
    Hollister, CA.

  5. Wow that is so awesome… I loved watching her watching herslef dancing….. I bet she has a lot of stories from dancing and probably even real famous celebrities…. She should write a book about her dancing days and her life I would buy that book… I’m so happy you got to see yourself dancing I loved the smile it brought to your face…. Wow… God bless xoxo alfred.

  6. Oh and BTW I sent the video to everyone I know and they loved it also…. I watched it 4 times…. It just so beautiful you got to see that.. I wish u can show us some of your old moves… All them famous women now can take notes from you… Thank you for sharing… Xoxo Alfred Salinas Los Angeles

  7. What a thrill to see you in film and watch you recognizing yourself in your dancing days. I am 75 and have retired in Chiang Mai, Thailand and my first job in California when I graduated from college was working with seniors who were then living in nursing homes. Having no grandparents or relatives of senior age, it was an education for me to visit with people who had lived such different lives in different times. Surely those who have met you in person feel the same!

    The people who brought your actual films to you are wonderful detectives – the friends you made in your youth – all the memories that the films have brought forth brought a smile to you and to us that were able to share the scenes.

    It is obvious that your mind is clear and your personality intact – you are an example to all of us that are seniors but mostly to the younger people to whom you are an inspiration.

    Best wishes from across the world — Brenda Joyce

  8. Alice! How beautiful you are, then and now! I am 37 years old and watched your youtube video with my two year daughter Isis. She saw you and said, “She dances good, she’s beautiful.” I’m so happy I found your youtube video! My eyes teared up when you said you wish you could get up out of that bed and dance. I love your honesty and your smile. You’re a beautiful woman and what a damn good dancer!! Much love and respect from Bayville, NJ

  9. Dear Alice
    It was so wonderful to see that life goes on after 100. I enjoyed watching you dance in your younger days. I know that if you could you would get up out of your bed and show the world some amazing dance moves. Thanks so much for your contribution to our world.

  10. Bless all of you for the care and love you gave to Alice and give to all the others there. Alice… What an amazing dancer you were… and so beautiful! Wish I could have seen you in person shake that thing to the swing! All the best! Hugs from Omaha, NE.

  11. Dear Alice Barker, thank you for allowing so many to enjoy seeing your reaction to your “soundies”. I have shown this at the Adult Day Center at EOC Tech in Choctaw, Oklahoma. We all loved it and you! Thank you for graciously sharing your legacy. Special thank you for the staff and volunteers that had the presence of mind to do the work to show the world this lovely lady.

  12. It was a joy to watch you watch yourself dance on the “Soundies” videos. It is a treasure I am glad you were able to take part in. I am wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I hope it is a healthy and happy one for you. Thank you to the team of people responsible for creating and sharing this experience with the world.

  13. Alice and my mom were friends in Chicago , as a child I remeber visiting her moms apartment on E. 31st St. So glad to have seen this video thanks to all who are taking care of her daily activities of living.

  14. Watching you watch yourself dancing professionally inspires me. I’m just turning 50 years young myself, and realizing nothing stops time, but I hope you’re blessed with plenty more. I’m your new biggest fan. When I finish growing up I want to be just like you Miss Alice. Tou are totally amazing thank you for being, you doll. God bless you.

  15. Oh My Gosh…I just LOVED this!!! To watch her face. I’ve never danced professionally but I just love to dance. So sweet that you all did this for Alice. God Bless You ALL. Loved when she was watching and tapping to the beat. Even before she said it, I was thinking “I bet she just wants to get out of that bed and dance.” I’m thinking this sharp lady would be able to remember each and every routine because of the love she had for dance and those years. Wishing her well. Thanks for the Memories, Alice! Blessings~

  16. God bless you Miss Alice. What a great talent!! You were beautiful then as well as now. I hope you had a Merry Christmas and I’m wishing you a Happy New Year.

  17. Oh my gosh you are so blessed to be alive so long something says your special because God did not take you of this earth and thinks God for keeping here on this earth for a long time with us and her fans.wish you a happy new year and late Christmas

  18. Awww…makes me FULL OF HAPPY to see this video and read about you, Miss Alice! You are so stunningly beautiful! You were the equivalent (in the dance world) to what I am. I’m a musician. A sideman musician. I’ve played for some big names in the music world…but we don’t get the recognition that the stars do. And that’s okay…like you, I love what I do! But I’m so glad these big hearted people have made it possible for you to get the recognition and attention you so richly deserve. (you were an awesome dancer!) GOD BLESS YOU, MISS ALICE!

  19. Just the most wonderful bit of dancing and watching your hands move as you were dancing with yourself during the films. Thank you dear for still being here and giving us all the gift of your work and JOY! Love ya and God Bless!

  20. So wonderful to see you now and then. I loved your spunk and your great smile while watching the soundies. I have reached out to some of my friends and family to ask their soros to view the film and send cards to you. You are truly one of the great shoulders we have stood on. Love you.

    Sandra

  21. You are a wonderful lady and beautiful dancer. Thank you for sharing your memories. I worked as a nurses aid and seen how they are some times forgotten and have no family. This mad me cry tears of joy to see that these wonderful people did this for you and visit you daily.

  22. I love this….also because I love finding stuff like this pertaining to my grandparents whom I love dearly, my grandma passing in 2011 around 35 years after grandpa….they are my pride and joy, as I know we were for them….you are such a beautiful lady, and I would love to see video of her favorite moments or memories of her time, wouldn’t have to be the sweet family life, but the strange silly scary or crazy thing we do in life and look back on thinking wow, I cant believe we did that or what was we thinkin yet would never change it for nothing memories we all have…love and blessings for many years to come Miss Alice….and keep them on their toes…

  23. My daughter (age 10) and I loved seeing your video and the soundies of your dancing from years ago!!! It has brought up a beautiful lesson for us to discuss of how even as our bodies age our minds can continue to take us back to those times and experiences we have had the pleasure of knowing. You have helped to remind us to live our lives to the fullest, dance at every opportunity, and to impress those wonderful times into our own memories. Thank you!!!!

  24. Alice, thank you for letting us see these wonderful videos from back in the day! To see you now watching yourself on the videos was breathtaking.
    You are a beautiful woman and seemed so vibrant watching yourself (like a young woman again).
    Thank you for sharing.
    Loved it.
    Cyndy

  25. I love these kinds of film, dancers from that time period. And what a joy to this vibrant woman enjoying the gift of seeing footage of herself, which she didn’t get to back then. She is still graceful with the movement of her arms..she probably would get up and dance exactly the same! God bless her to keep living strong and God bless those who made seeing herself at that time again possible! She is now a legacy!! Godspeed!

  26. Ms. Alice it was a joy to see you. God has been good to you. I plan
    to share this with my mom who is 94 years young. God bless those who care for you. I love my seniors
    Nellie Indianapolis In

  27. So beautiful these videos of you, both new and old ones, Alice! Thank you so much for your journey, and for those around you sharing it with us!

    Very best wishes always

  28. I love just watching this video over and over it puts a smile on my face everytime I watch it hoping one day that I can see more of her

  29. I just have seen the Alice’s video and I have no words. She is just incredible and she locked such as an amazing and beautiful dancer. I don’t use to put comments on videos but this has excited me. I am really glad that Alice has the chance to know that she actually has many fans. I love dance to, and for this reason I think I can understand her better. From the depths of my heart, I would like to be like her when I get older. I hope that her smile is never removed because it is what keeps her loveliness. Without words…

  30. Ms Alice I came across the Youtube video that David and Gail put together and it was a pleasure and blessing to see the joy on your beautiful face and your hands moving to the music. I posted the video on Facebook as it brought such joy to me and wanted others to feel your joy. May God continue to bless you.

    Thank you David and Gail for bringing such a precious gift to Ms Alice.

  31. Amazing! Such a beautiful souls she is! I could only dream of living in those times. Such talent. Glad to see her legacy brought to the public eye once again after so many years. Thank you Ms. Alice, i loved your videos and the joy you get from seeing them again.

  32. I was so happy when I watched Ms. Alice’s videos today, and her reaction to watching herself…..it was very moving and beautiful. Thank you so very much for having the ingenuity to post it for us all to see. So sorry to hear of her passing, she was a beautiful lady, obviously, inside and out. Just watching her made my day!

  33. The kindness of strangers…we need more of that nowadays.
    Transporting her back in time to such wonderful memories gave her such a zest for living up until the very end.
    I was so happy for her. She was certainly a sweetheart who touched our own souls.
    Keep dancing Alice…Keep dancing!

  34. I so wish I had seen this beautiful video before Ms. barker passed so I could have sent her a card telling how much I enjoyed watching her dance and equally enjoyed watching her joy in reliving the moments! David and Gail, you have giving hearts and made the last days of a talented and beautul lady happy ones! Bless you both!

  35. Wow. she had an amazing life she spent most of her life dancing what an incredible life she had. i wish we could always go back to the happiest moments of our lives. thankyou david and to your friend for making alice happy. that was incredible thankyou thankyou.

  36. I just found this today Dec 20 2016 .. To see ur face light up watching yourself performance was priceless Chicken legs Alice Barker.RIP!

  37. Comme c’est très touchant ! BRAVO à David & Gail qui ont réalisé un geste formidable. Vous avez un coeur en or d’avoir rendu heureux Alice Barker. Que Dieu vous bénisse pour ce que vous avez fait pour elle.
    Maintenant Alice Barker danse au paradis. Que son âme y reste en paix !

  38. I am in New Delhi, India. Saw her today onyoutube and came here.

    Hope you are happy where you are now Alice Baker 🙂

    We Indians believe in reincarnation, where children are believed to retain memories from past births. Loved watching the video. I really appreciate the people who took the time to finally watch herself, God Bless You.

    a v singh.

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