Old Black Hollywood Stars You Should Know

April 19, 2011  |  
Pearl Bailey in Carmen Jones, 1954.

The golden age of Hollywood wasn’t so golden for black folks, nor was much else in the country at the time. When we think of early films, we often think of black actors and actresses that were relegated to degrading roles such as the Mammy or the tap dancing butler. However, even back then there were black filmmakers and actors that were making quality, complex work that spoke to our struggles and played to black audiences and some White audiences. Here are some black film pioneers that you should know about.

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  • DORO626

    Great job Grace. My favorite un-sung, is Canada Lee.

  • sanggirl

    Where can find these films to view?

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  • I'm surprised there's no mention of Nina Mae McKinney. She was the inspiration of Lena Horne and Dorthoy Dandridge. But this was a good artlce nonetheless.

  • Earthspirit1

    Thank you for posting this informative piece on Black Cinema stars and Directors!
    I must add that according to research , Tressie Sounders was considered the first Black Female Director . She directed a film titled "A Woman's Error" which was released in the year of 1922.

  • Every Chance

    Name some more…so interesting!

  • bout time yall do some positive messaging on here…praise the lord…thanks for this article…

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  • Prissy

    YES…. YES and another YES!!!!!!! THIS is what kind of writing I have been waiting for on this site! This is just a HANDFUL of wonderful Black celebs from the past that are mentioned here. I am truly happy for this post! 😉