Posts tagged "black actresses"
Jayne Kennedy in April 1977 in a shot from her short-lived NBC TV show, “Cover Girls.” She played Monique Lawrence who was, of course, a secret agent posing as a fashion model. Photo: Dave Friedman/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images.
Hilda Simms and Lena Horne in the late 1940s. It drives me crazy that I have not been able to find a legitimate source/photographer behind this photo. It’s one thing to find it on a random website (like I did last year) but it’s another thing to share it and properly credit it for a wider audience. Sigh…
Hilda Simms, the pioneer Minnesota-born actress best known for her starring role in the first all-black production of Anna Lucasta on Broadway, in a glam shot circa 1947. You are not going to believe the awesome pictures I have found of her for the book! Photo: Denis De Marney/Getty Images.
Cicely Tyson answers a reporter’s questions on the red carpet as she arrives at the #Oscars on March 27, 1973. Ms. Tyson was nominated in the Best Actress category for her role in the film, “Sounder”. She and Diana Ross made history that year as the first Black actresses nominated in the Best Actress category in the same year (Liza Minnelli won for her role in “Cabaret”). I am not sure if he was with Ms. Tyson that evening, but Dance Theater of Harlem founder Arthur Mitchell is to her right in this picture. Photo: Frank Diernhammer/Conde Nast Archives.
Muriel Smith, photographed in 1944 by Carl Van Vechten as “Carmen,” the role she originated on Broadway. In 1956, she turned down an offer from Samuel Goldwyn to star in the film version of ”Porgy and Bess,” stating, ”It doesn’t do the right thing for my people.” After a successful career overseas, particularly Great Britain, the New York-born Ms. Smith taught voice at Virginia Union University before her death in 1985.
Actress Theresa Harris as she appeared in the 1948 film, “The Velvet Touch,” which starred Rosalind Russell. Ms. Harris was the inspiration behind Lynn Nottage’s play, “By the Way, Meet Vera Stark” which starred Sanaa Lathan.
From Donald Bogle’s Bright Boulevards, Bold Dreams: The Story of Black Hollywood: “Harris - who was both outspoken and highly intelligent - didn’t mince words about the plight of colored actresses. She told Fay M. Jackson, of the California Eagle in August 1937: “I never felt the chance to rise above the role of maid in Hollywood movies. My color was against me. The fact that I was not ‘hot’ stamped me as either an uppity ‘Negress’ or relegated me to the eternal role of stooge or servant. I can sing but so can hundreds of other girls. My ambitions are to be an actress. Hollywood had no parts for me.” Photo via A Certain Cinema.
Actress Jane White in a 1941 photograph by Carl Van Vechten. A 1944 graduate of Smith College, White was the daughter of Civil Rights icon Walter White. Ms. White began her career on Broadway in 1945 when Paul Robeson helped her get her first role as the lead in Lillian Smith’s “Strange Fruit,” a story about a doomed interracial love affair. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt praised Ms. White’s work for its “restraint and beauty.” In 1959, Ms. White originated the role of Queen Aggravain (to a young Carol Burnett’s princess) in “Once Upon a Mattress.” For this role, Ms. White was asked to lighten her complexion, lest she “confuse” the audience with her “Mediterranean” looks. She would go on to establish a solid reputation as an actress in Shakespearean and classical roles from the 1960’s through the 1990’s. In 1979, her autobiographical one-woman show, “Jane White, Who?…”, was well received. Ms. White was also a cabaret singer and did work in film and television, including a small part in the film, “Beloved.” In 1992, Ms. White wrote “Life As An Actress: A Mystery Story,” an autobiographical essay for Revealing Women’s Life Stories: Papers from the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Sophia Smith Collection at Smith College. Ms. White died of cancer on July 24, 2011 in New York City at the age of 88.
Flip Wilson and Gail Fisher guest starring on an episode of “Love, American Style” called “Love and the Hustler.” This show aired one month before I was born, on September 29, 1969, but I definitely remember watching “Love, American Style” in repeats. I wonder if it still holds up today? Hmmm….
I’m sure most of you know the iconic comedian Flip Wilson, but Gail Fisher was an actress best known for her Emmy-winning role as Peggy Fair, secretary to a detective, in the groundbreaking television series, “Mannix.” Photo: ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images.
One of my favorite actresses - and writers - Ellen Holly, sometime in the 1970s. I found this photo on her website, blackstarimploding.com. Ms. Holly is best known for breaking the color barrier in soap operas in 1968 as Carla Gray, a black woman who passed for white, on “One Life to Live.” During that period in the late 1960s and 1970s, Ms. Holly wrote several articles in the New York Times about the challenges facing Black actors. Her memoir, One Life: The Autobiography of an African American Actress is simply phenomenal. A must-read for Black actresses and writers of today. I can not recommend it highly enough.
Ruby Dee (who turned 88 Oct 27!) as Jackie Robinson’s wife Rachel in a publicity photo from Feb 1950 for the biopic ‘The Jackie Robinson Story’. Photo by FPG/Archive Photos/Getty Images).
One of the most underrated and underused actresses of our time, @LonetteMcKee, as “Sister” in the original “Sparkle,” 1976. Photo: Gilles Petard/Redfern/Getty