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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Studying Jeni Le Gon, the First Black Woman to Sign with a Major Studio

Posted by on Wed, Jan 23, 2013 at 11:03 AM

Roger Ebert has a great new page full of photos, videos, and testimony about Jeni Le Gon, the first black woman signed to a major studio, back in the 1930s. She died in December. There's video of her performing at Seattle's Century Ballroom in 2007 at 91 years old, along with clips from her youth.

Ebert quotes from Le Gon's obituary in the London Independent about Le Gon's brush with Ronald Reagan in 1950. She'd have known what kind of president was coming, and was probably unsurprised when Reagan ignored AIDS in its early years.

"She played maids to Maria Montez in Arabian Nights (1942), Ann Miller in Easter Parade (1948) and Betty Hutton in Somebody Loves Me (1952). Tiring of maid roles, Le Gon faced humiliation in 1950 when she joined a group of black actors to call on Ronald Reagan, then president of the Screen Actors Guild. They raised their concerns about the stereotyping of black actors, but Reagan showed no interest: "We tried to get him to intervene for us, but he wasn't the least bit sympathetic. He didn't even lie about it."

I'm pasting two YouTube clips from the two ends of her career here, but you should really visit Ebert's whole page.


Comments (2) RSS

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Cascadian Bacon 1
I thought that The Stranger was anti-gon.
Posted by Cascadian Bacon on January 23, 2013 at 11:10 AM · Report this
rob! 2
Full credit for that, you rascal you.
Posted by rob! on January 23, 2013 at 11:21 AM · Report this

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