Posts tagged "black actresses"
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.”
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.
Dancer and actress Louise Franklin strikes a pose in this September 15, 1941 publicity photo with Duke Ellington for his musical, “Jump For Joy,” which played at the Mayan Theater in Los Angeles. A young Dorothy Dandridge also appeared in the musical. A native of Kansas City, Missouri, Ms. Franklin appeared in many films (often uncredited) from the 1930s through the 1950s. She also danced in the films “Cabin in the Sky” and “Stormy Weather.” Photo: John Reed, Herald Examiner Collection, Los Angeles Public Library.
Theresa Harris with Barbara Stanwyck in the 1933 pre-code film, “Baby Face.” Ms. Harris (1909-1985) played a series of maids to nearly every major Hollywood star of the time from Bette Davis and Jean Harlow to Ginger Rogers and Esther Williams. In “Baby Face,” Ms. Stanwyck (1907-1990) played Lily Powers, an ambitious golddigger who later questions her ways (A little bit… Hollywood censors did some tweaking…). Ms. Harris played her best friend and “maid” Chico, who is with her every step of the way as she climbs the ladder of success, one man (or two) at a time. Ms. Harris also was the inspiration behind Lynn Nottage's play, “By the Way, Meet Vera Stark.” I never post about Theresa Harris without including the haunting quote from her I found in Donald Bogle’s book, “Bright Boulevards, Bold Dreams: The Story of Black Hollywood. Bogle described her as “both outspoken and highly intelligent” and noted that she “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.” Ms. Harris would later tell the same reporter that she enjoyed working in race movies “because In the picture I have the chance of wearing clothes.” “Clothes” as a gorgeous wardrobe that Black women usually never had a chance to wear in white movies. Photo: Warner Brothers/Photofest.
Pittsburgh-born actress Marpessa Dawn of “Black Orpheus” fame, in 1959 issues of EBONY magazine.