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.