Billy Mitchell has been described as many things in his day: a historian, a tour guide, a goodwill ambassador, but most recently Mr. Mitchell is described as Mr. Apollo. Mitchell started working as an errand boy at the legendary theater back in 1965 and has worked in various capacities since then.
This past weekend Mitchell visited Harlem Flo Boutique to talk about his book They Call Me Mr. Apollo. Mitchell’s inviting smile and engaging personality pulled people into the back room of the store where he told entertaining stories about some of the celebrities who have performed at the Apollo.
Mitchell informed us that there are two sets of dressing rooms in the theater, but the young performers all request the old dressing rooms. The newer dressing rooms are modern and equipped with state-of-the-art electronics. When comedian Chris Rock filmed his HBO special “Bigger and Blacker” at the theater in 1999 he was appalled at the deteriorated condition of the dressing rooms and bathrooms. He made a major donation towards improving the back stage area of the revered theater.
Mitchell is credited with coming up with the idea for an Apollo tour. He drew from his personal experiences and what he didn’t know, he researched. Mitchell says that his tours aren’t the dry variety full of only facts. He does impersonations and will burst out in song unexpectedly during a tour.
- New Exhibit Showcases Apollo’s Legendary History (newyork.cbslocal.com)
- Lincoln Center celebrates the Apollo (uptownflavor.com)
- Apollo Theater to Induct Stevie Wonder into Hall of Fame (pastemagazine.com)
- Stevie Wonder to Be Inducted at NY Apollo Theater (abcnews.go.com)