Posts tagged "black actresses"

"I believe that often young performers, lacking a continuity of experience, lacking a knowledge of the history of entertainment, of the tradition and great contributions that our people have made to theater, may tend to feel that a whole new world begins with each newcomer. Not so…. I maintain that we actresses must concern ourselves more with the fate of each other, and of the younger actresses coming along, by helping to find material and getting it produced and by promoting scholarships for intensive training.” ~ Ruby Dee, from an article she wrote for the April 1966 issue of Negro Digest entitled “Tattered Queens: Some Reflections on the Negro Actress.” In this photo, she is shown with baseball legend Jackie Robinson in a scene from the movie, “The Jackie Robinson Story,” where she played his wife, Rachel. Ms. Dee died at the age of 91 on Wednesday, June 11, 2014 at her home in New Rochelle, New York. Photo: Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library

Diana Sands on the 1972 poster for the film, “Georgia, Georgia”. The screenplay was written by none other than Dr. Maya Angelou, who also wrote the score for the film. I was lucky enough to find a full-size version of this poster a few years ago. Now to finally find a frame for it…

Diana Sands on the 1972 poster for the film, “Georgia, Georgia”. The screenplay was written by none other than Dr. Maya Angelou, who also wrote the score for the film. I was lucky enough to find a full-size version of this poster a few years ago. Now to finally find a frame for it…

Juanita Moore, the Academy Award nominated actress best known for her role as the brokenhearted mother of a mixed daughter who wanted to pass as white in the 1959 film, “Imitation of Life,” died in Los Angeles on January 1, 2014 at the age of 99. A Los Angeles native, she was born there on October 19, 1914 (or 1922 - there are conflicting dates) and studied drama at Los Angeles City College before embarking on a singing career that took her to nightclubs in New York and Moulin Rouge in Paris. As a member of Ebony Showcase, a Los Angeles theater group, she had her first break as an actress in a controversial play at the time called “No Exit” wich was about three people who were presumed to be dead. Prior to becoming only the the fifth black performer to be nominated for an Academy Award, she appeared several films including “Pinky” in 1949 and “Affair in Trinidad” with Rita Hayworth in 1952. During a press tour for Imitation of Life in March 1959, Ms. Moore told Hazel Garland of the Pittsburgh Courier that she had to gain 18 pounds in order to appear more matronly for her role in the film. She said it took less than four wees to gain the weight, but more than two months to lose it. “To me, this is the break every actress dreams of getting. It is one in which I can run the gamut of emotions.” By 1967, she was far less enthusiastic in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. “The Oscar prestige was fine, but I worked more before I was nominated,” Moore said at the time. “Casting directors think an Oscar nominee is suddenly in another category. They couldn’t possibly ask you to do one or two days’ work. You wouldn’t accept it. And I’m sure I would.” In this photo, Ms. Moore (seated at right) is shown on the set of “Imitation of Life” with the legendary gospel singer Mahalia Jackson, who famously sang at the funeral of Ms. Moore’s character Annie Johnson at the end of the film, and Ross Hunter, the producer of the film who cast her in her most famous role. Mr. Hunter and director Douglas Sirk considered over 40 black actresses for the role, including Pearl Bailey and Marian Anderson. Mr. Hunter told interviewers in March 1959, “When we interviewed Miss Moore, we knew our search was over. Even if she hadn’t been an experienced performer, her sincerity, warmth, and natural qualities would have won the role.” Once married to Nyas Berry, of the famed tap dancing Berry Brothers, Ms. Moore was married for over 50 years to Charles Burris, who died in 2001. Photo: A Certain Cinema/Sérgio Leemann.

Happy Birthday to the one and only Cicely Tyson! There has been some debate about her actual age (she did not dispute a New York Times article last year that said she was 88 years old, which would make her 89 today). In this 1973 photo, she is signing an autography for a fan outside of a theater that was playing, “Sounder” (she was a Best Actress Oscar nominee for the film). Ms. Tyson told reporters at the scene that she was “ready to play in another film but, only if the script is good”. Otherwise, she said she “would rather go hungry if necessary than accept a “trashy” role. Photo: Bettman/Corbis.

Actress Esther Rolle (1920-1998) trying on a dress the Joseph Magnin store in Beverly Hills in 1974. Best known as Florida Evans on “Good Times,” Ms. Rolle was born to Bahamian immigrant parents in Pompano Beach, Florida, the 10th of 18 children. Inspired by two of her sisters who were also actresses (Rosanna Carter and Estelle Evans, who appeared in “To Kill a Mockingbird”) she moved to New York when she was 18 years old to begin a career in writing before she was talked into acting. She was also a dancer and performed with the Asadata Dafora troupe for twelve years before becoming a founding member of the Negro Ensemble Company. She also attended several colleges, most notably Spelman, and was a member of Zeta Phi Beta sorority. When asked about portraying a variety of maids throughout her career, Ms. Rolle told People magazine in 1990, “I’m glad to take on the role of a domestic because many of your black leaders, your educators, your professionals came from domestic parents who made sacrifices to see that their children didn’t go through what they did. But, I don’t play Hollywood maids, the hee-hee kind of people who are so in love with their madam’s children they have no time for their own.” Ms. Rolle was particularly concerned about black images and Hollywood and she was not shy about speaking up. She left her most famous role on “Good Times” in protest to what she thought was the increasing buffoonery of the J.J. character. She told People in that same 1990 interview, “I told the producers, ‘I did not agree to do a clown show for you to degrade young black men. I ruffle a lot of feathers. And I’m also selective—that makes you a troublemaker. But so be it. I laid a cornerstone for black actors, and that makes me happy.” Photo: Isaac Sutton from the Ted Williams and Ebony Collection at Art.com.

Actress Esther Rolle (1920-1998) trying on a dress the Joseph Magnin store in Beverly Hills in 1974. Best known as Florida Evans on “Good Times,” Ms. Rolle was born to Bahamian immigrant parents in Pompano Beach, Florida, the 10th of 18 children. Inspired by two of her sisters who were also actresses (Rosanna Carter and Estelle Evans, who appeared in “To Kill a Mockingbird”) she moved to New York when she was 18 years old to begin a career in writing before she was talked into acting. She was also a dancer and performed with the Asadata Dafora troupe for twelve years before becoming a founding member of the Negro Ensemble Company. She also attended several colleges, most notably Spelman, and was a member of Zeta Phi Beta sorority. When asked about portraying a variety of maids throughout her career, Ms. Rolle told People magazine in 1990, “I’m glad to take on the role of a domestic because many of your black leaders, your educators, your professionals came from domestic parents who made sacrifices to see that their children didn’t go through what they did. But, I don’t play Hollywood maids, the hee-hee kind of people who are so in love with their madam’s children they have no time for their own.” Ms. Rolle was particularly concerned about black images and Hollywood and she was not shy about speaking up. She left her most famous role on “Good Times” in protest to what she thought was the increasing buffoonery of the J.J. character. She told People in that same 1990 interview, “I told the producers, ‘I did not agree to do a clown show for you to degrade young black men. I ruffle a lot of feathers. And I’m also selective—that makes you a troublemaker. But so be it. I laid a cornerstone for black actors, and that makes me happy.” Photo: Isaac Sutton from the Ted Williams and Ebony Collection at Art.com.

Mittie Lawrence, Miss Bronze California 1959, best known for her role as Emma, asst/pal to Barbra Streisand’s Fanny Brice in the 1968 film, “Funny Girl,” in the February 4, 1960 issue of JET magazine. Ms. Lawrence was a Los Angeles City College student with hopes of being an actress at the time of this photograph and she got her wish. She worked steadily as an actress well into the 1970s with parts on shows like “Star Trek” “Dragnet” “Adam-12” and “My Three Sons.”

Mittie Lawrence, Miss Bronze California 1959, best known for her role as Emma, asst/pal to Barbra Streisand’s Fanny Brice in the 1968 film, “Funny Girl,” in the February 4, 1960 issue of JET magazine. Ms. Lawrence was a Los Angeles City College student with hopes of being an actress at the time of this photograph and she got her wish. She worked steadily as an actress well into the 1970s with parts on shows like “Star Trek” “Dragnet” “Adam-12” and “My Three Sons.”

Happy 78th birthday to the magnificent Diahann Carroll! She wrote in her 2008 memoir, “The Legs Are the Last to Go,” “Some people just don’t have fun unless they’re looking their best. And I’m one of them. To me, owning who you are means asking yourself “What do I have to do today to make myself happy?” This photo is from my files - but I would appreciate it someone could tip me off on the photographer.

Happy 78th birthday to the magnificent Diahann Carroll! She wrote in her 2008 memoir, “The Legs Are the Last to Go,” “Some people just don’t have fun unless they’re looking their best. And I’m one of them. To me, owning who you are means asking yourself “What do I have to do today to make myself happy?” This photo is from my files - but I would appreciate it someone could tip me off on the photographer.