African American Actresses: The Struggle for Visibility, 1900-1960

African American Actresses: The Struggle for Visibility, 1900-1960

by Charlene B. Regester

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Overview

Nine actresses, from Madame Sul-Te-Wan in Birth of a Nation (1915) to Ethel Waters in Member of the Wedding (1952), are profiled in African American Actresses. Charlene Regester poses questions about prevailing racial politics, on-screen and off-screen identities, and black stardom and white stardom. She reveals how these women fought for their roles as well as what they compromised (or didn't compromise). Regester repositions these actresses to highlight their contributions to cinema in the first half of the 20th century, taking an informed theoretical, historical, and critical approach.



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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780253221926
Publisher: Indiana University Press
Publication date: 06/14/2010
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 440
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Charlene Regester is Associate Professor of African and Afro-American Studies at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. She is co-editor of the Oscar Micheaux Society Newsletter and serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Film and Video.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction 1

1 The Struggle for Visibility Madame Sul-Te-Wan 19

2 Early Success and Tumultuous Career Nina Mae McKinney 40

3 Negotiating Racial Difference Louise Beavers 72

4 The Masquerades and the Masks Fredi Washington 107

5 Centering the Margin Hattie McDaniel 131

6 Actress and Activist Lena Horne 174

7 Resistance to Othering Hazel Scott 215

8 Personification of Otherness Ethel Waters 244

9 Intertwining the Reel and the Real Dorothy Dandridge 282

Conclusion 326

Notes 333

Bibliography 381

Index 391

What People are Saying About This

"Gorgeous both visually and textually, this book brings to light, as the title indicates, the "struggle for visibility" faced by African American actresses during what is usually called Hollywood's "Golden Age." Regester (African and Afro-American studies, Univ. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill) organizes the book more or less chronologically, and begins with the career of Madame Sul-Te-Wan, who was a pioneering African American actress of the silents and continued working well into the sound era. The author follows this with discussions of Nina Mae McKinney, Louise Beavers, Fredi Washington, Hattie McDaniel, Lena Horne, Hazel Scott, Ethel Waters, and Dorothy Dandridge—all of whom were underutilized to a degree that seems almost criminal. Historically sound and superbly written, this volume highlights the numerous obstacles these talented women faced working in films during an overwhelmingly racist era. Pursuing their craft with elegance, style, and determination, all these women fought a constant battle against racial stereotyping, demeaning roles as servants and maids, and the racism that infected the country as a whole. An exemplary study of race in US cinema, this is easily the best book on the subject to date. Summing Up: Essential. All readers. — Choice"

G. A. Foster]]>

Gorgeous both visually and textually, this book brings to light, as the title indicates, the "struggle for visibility" faced by African American actresses during what is usually called Hollywood's "Golden Age." Regester (African and Afro-American studies, Univ. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill) organizes the book more or less chronologically, and begins with the career of Madame Sul-Te-Wan, who was a pioneering African American actress of the silents and continued working well into the sound era. The author follows this with discussions of Nina Mae McKinney, Louise Beavers, Fredi Washington, Hattie McDaniel, Lena Horne, Hazel Scott, Ethel Waters, and Dorothy Dandridge—all of whom were underutilized to a degree that seems almost criminal. Historically sound and superbly written, this volume highlights the numerous obstacles these talented women faced working in films during an overwhelmingly racist era. Pursuing their craft with elegance, style, and determination, all these women fought a constant battle against racial stereotyping, demeaning roles as servants and maids, and the racism that infected the country as a whole. An exemplary study of race in US cinema, this is easily the best book on the subject to date. Summing Up: Essential. All readers. — Choice

Indiana University Bloomington - Audrey McCluskey

"In this important work, Charlene Regester brings into focus the lives and careers of representative black women actresses in Hollywood across generational divides in order to reposition them beyond the confining shadow of otherness and marginality. The sum result is a re-telling and correction of history."

G. A. Foster

Gorgeous both visually and textually, this book brings to light, as the title indicates, the "struggle for visibility" faced by African American actresses during what is usually called Hollywood's "Golden Age." Regester (African and Afro-American studies, Univ. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill) organizes the book more or less chronologically, and begins with the career of Madame Sul-Te-Wan, who was a pioneering African American actress of the silents and continued working well into the sound era. The author follows this with discussions of Nina Mae McKinney, Louise Beavers, Fredi Washington, Hattie McDaniel, Lena Horne, Hazel Scott, Ethel Waters, and Dorothy Dandridge—all of whom were underutilized to a degree that seems almost criminal. Historically sound and superbly written, this volume highlights the numerous obstacles these talented women faced working in films during an overwhelmingly racist era. Pursuing their craft with elegance, style, and determination, all these women fought a constant battle against racial stereotyping, demeaning roles as servants and maids, and the racism that infected the country as a whole. An exemplary study of race in US cinema, this is easily the best book on the subject to date. Summing Up: Essential. All readers. — Choice

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