The Apollo Theater is celebrating 85 years of cheers, jeers and laughs as those whose lives were changed by the iconic music hall recall their fondest moments inside the New York City venue.
The 14th Annual Spring Gala was held in Harlem on Monday night. Among those in attendance were the founder and only living member of the original Temptations, Otis Williams.
Just days before, Williams had been inducted into the Apollo Theater Walk of Fame.
“I have been coming to the Apollo since 1963. And here it is, this wonderful honor being bestowed upon me. It’s very moving and touching. And I am thankful and give all praise to God for what I’ve gone through. And I’m still here. And there’s a reason,” Williams told InsideEdition.com.
Formed in 1960, The Temptations enjoyed a slew of hits on Motown Records. Over the course of their career, the Grammy-winning group has sold more than 16 million units. They have amassed several accolades, including a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and induction into the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame. There is also currently a 12-time Tony-nominated Broadway show running in their honor, “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations.” The show will embark on a 50 city tour next month.
This is the type of legacy Apollo Theater President and CEO Jonelle Procope hopes to continue to build, more than eight decades later.
“And so our legacy has always been that of providing a place of opportunity back when it opened its doors in 1934,” Procope told InsideEdition.com.
“Black people couldn’t work in other places on mainstream stages. Which is why the Apollo launched the careers of pretty much anyone who was in music, dance, comedy, theater. Fast forward, here we are in the 21st century and that’s what we’re going to continue doing in a different way,” she said.
Actress Margot Bingham says the theater holds a special place in her heart because of the role it has played in her career.
“The Apollo gives so much to its community, gives so much to all of us. I used to live in Harlem and I remember performing here for the 80th anniversary, and it was such an unbelievable moment in my career and life and nobody will ever top that,” Bingham told InsideEdition.com.
When asked if Bingham had ever been at the receiving end of the crowd's notorious boos, or ever been afraid of being booed off the stage, her response was simple. “Oh God, no. Thank you. I have never been booed and let’s not start” she smiled.
The Spring Gala raised $2 million, which will go toward the Apollo’s ongoing community initiatives, including the Apollo Performing Arts Center, with the theaters at the Victoria. Scheduled to open next year, it marks the theater’s first expansion in its history.