“Improving The Community One Project At A Time”
PO Box 117 - Alderson W Va. 24910
© Alderson Main Street 2014
Who is BRICKTOP?
"On the fourteenth day of August 1894, in the little town of Alderson, West-by-God-Virginia,...on that day Bricktop
was born." Ada Beatrice Queen Victoria Louise Virginia Smith was the 4th child of Thomas and Hattie E. Smith. "My
father had dark brown skin and so did my brother Robert, who was three when I was born. My mother was 7/8s
white, with blond hair and grey-blue eyes...I came along with white, white skin like my mother's and red-gold hair."
At age four her father died and Ada's family then moved to Chicago. It was there at age 16 she started to learn how
to be a club performer. She sang and danced herself around the country then to New York and on to Paris of the
But who is Bricktop? She was an amazing woman who came from a small town in West Virginia to become one of
the most famous entertainers and club owners in Europe of the 1930s and 50s. She was said to have "Flaming red
hair, a happy freckled face and a pair of beautiful legs and feet." Ada taught the Prince of Wales the Charleston and
Cole Porter wrote a song for her (they were close life long friends).
Bricktop had a strong personality and a natural instinct about how to be a host and take care of people of all
backgrounds. Some of her patrons included F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gloria Swanson, English and Italian Royalty,
Elizabeth Taylor, Orson Wells, Pearl Bailey and many more. F. Scott said "My greatest claim to fame is that I
discovered Bricktop before Cole Porter."
More about this incredible West Virginian (which is how she always considered herself) in the coming weeks. On
August 24 Alderson Main Street and the Town of Alderson will be holding a tribute evening for Ada "Bricktop" Smith.
Watch for more information in upcoming articles.
Source: Bricktop by Bricktop with James Haskins; Welcome Rain Pub. 1983
available at Alderson's Store. Also, see more about Bricktop in the History of Alderson