Eden Roc Hotel
4525 Collins Avenue
A Miami Beach landmark, the Eden Roc Hotel was designed by renowned architect Morris Lapidus and opened in 1956. Lapidus designed other well-known Miami Beach landmarks including the Fontainbleau and Lincoln Road. Located within the hotel, the lounge Cafe Pompeii was popular for its supper shows featuring local and internationally known acts.
Harry Belafonte performed at Cafe Pompeii
In 1955, Belafonte performed at Café Pompeii in the Eden Roc hotel in Miami Beach. With segregation in full effect, it was common for black people to stay in hotels in Miami after performing in Miami Beach. During this tour, however, Belafonte stayed on the premises and used all of the facilities, becoming the first black person in Miami’s history to spend the night at the hotel.
Roberta Sherwood performed at the Eden Roc
In January 1958, Roberta Sherwood performed in the ballroom of the Eden Roc in Miami Beach.
Katherine Dunham performed at the Eden Roc Hotel’s Café Pompeii
Katherine Dunham and her company performed at the Eden Roc Hotel’s Café Pompeii, likely during her tour in the 1950s. Miami Beach had strict segregation laws at the time which meant that no black people were allowed in the audience, though many of the performers were black. One evening Thurgood Marshall visited Dunham’s dressing room at the Eden Roc and asked her to reserve a table for him and his friends for one of the supper shows. In the biography, Dancing a Life (2002) Joyce Aschenbrenner writes that Dunham thought she would “’be put out’” of the venue for requesting tables for her friends in a segregated space. While she obliged Marshall that evening and other friends during performances elsewhere including Paul Robeson, Josephine Baker, and Sammy Davis, Jr. she said, “’I never wanted to eat in those places because I thought they’d spit in the soup.’” (135) Dunham recognized the importance of breaking social barriers in through her dance performances, research, writing, and political activism. Just the presence of the Dunham Company in places that were segregated helped expose new audiences to the people, cultures, histories, and experiences she channeled through her dancing and choreography. As she explained in a 2005 interview, “dance becomes such a delight because you are moving on a stream that is you, but is over and beyond you.”
Lucille Ball & Desi Arnaz at the Eden Roc
Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz shot episodes of I Love Lucy in Miami Beach during the mid-1950s, and stayed in room 919 of the Eden Roc Hotel. Still a Miami Beach landmark, the Eden Roc Hotel was designed by renowned architect Morris Lapidus and opened in 1956. Lapidus designed other well-known Miami Beach landmarks including the Fontainebleau and Lincoln Road.