Cast: uncredited extra Robert Belcher

Robert Belcher, uncredited extra

Robert Belcher (1911 – 1988) was among the Greenville locals who participated in filming of the club scenes for “Pitch a Boogie Woogie,” which was done after the evening’s last movie showing at John Warner’s Plaza Theater. They did a lot of sitting around, waiting for the action call. He made $10 a night for his part, dancing with another local, Hazel Carmon, while Don Dunning’s orchestra played: “When we walked out at night, he [Warner] paid us.”

When I spoke with him in 1985, he said making the movie “means nothing to me now” and added: “I don’t want to see it now.”

When he began talking about his dislike for John Warner and the problems Warner had in the Black community, I assumed he was referring to “the incident” that sparked the strike that eventually shuttered the Plaza. But it was a different run in with Warner, more personal: “Yeah, I had some trouble with him, about my girl friend, had some trouble in the theater. He tried to have a date with her in the theater, but I found out about it and we didn’t have any trouble after that.”

He also had a second run in with Warner, whom he said “had the wrong affection among the peoples,” but added, “I can’t talk about that.”

Belcher said that before “Pitch” and the incident, Warner “had the cow by the horns and used the horns, but he got broke on that picture–it fouled up on him.”

Belcher, who worked at Belk’s, sometimes accompanied Warner when he was shooting commercials, but that generally speaking Warner had “lost all respect among our peoples–few would have anything to do with him.”

Belcher served in the Army as a private first class during World War II.

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Belcher, Robert Lee. Personal interview. Greenville, NC 12 Dec. 1985.

Robert L. Belcher. Greenwood Cemetery.

5 May 2024