Blackface!

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Blacks in Blackface

Famous Black actors whose personas
were derived from racist blackface stereotypes

Bert Williams, Mantan Moreland, Stepin Fetchit, Willie Best, Nick Lightnin Stewart, Hattie McDaniel, Dusty Fletcher, Spencer Williams, Tim Moore, Johnny Lee, Billie Buckwheat Thomas, Dewey Pigmeat Markham

 

Eddie Anderson 1902-1977
"Rochester"

The son of a minstrel singer and circus tightrope walker, Eddie Anderson started out in vaudeville and had appeared in a number of films when he debuted as the voice of a Pullman porter on Jack Benny's popular radio show in 1937.

Eddie Rochester Anderson

Louise Beavers 1902-1962

Louise Beavers appeared in over 160 films from the 1920s through the 1950s, most often as a mammy stereotype in the role of a maid, servant, or slave. Beavers' most famous role was her portrayal of Delilah Johnson, the housekeeper whose employer transforms her into an Aunt Jemima character for an advertising campaign in the 1934 film Imitation of Life.
 

Louise Beavers 1902-1962

Willie Best 1913-1962
"Sleep 'n' Eat"

Best was never given the opportunity to fully flex his comedic muscle beyond the stereotyped porter and janitor roles that dominated his career.

Ruby Dandridge 1899-1987

Ruby Dandridge is best known for playing maids on radio, movies and television. All Ruby had to do was open her mouth and let that squeaky voice come forth, and audiences would break into hysterics.

Ruby Dandridge 1899-1987

Stepin Fetchit 1902-1985

Stepin Fetchit became a very wealthy man portraying "the laziest human being in the world"

Dusty Fletcher 1900-1954

Clinton "Dusty" Fletcher got his start in Hollywood in Rufus Jones for President (1933), but it was his role in Open the Door Richard (1945) that served as a showcase for his comedic talents.

Allen Clayton Hoskins 1920-1980
"Farina"

Allen Hoskins was the character of Farina in the Our Gang short films from 1922 to 1931. Farina was cast to be the stereotypical pickaninny in the tradition of the character Topsy from Uncle Tom's Cabin.

Allen Farina Hoskins 1920-1980

Billy Kersands 1842-1915

Billy Kersands was the most famous negro blackface minstrel and vaudeville performer of the 19th century, who entertained audiences with comedy, dancing, singing, music and acrobatics. He was best known and remembered for the size of his mouth, which he could fill with billiard balls while reciting a monologue.

Billy Kersands 1842-1915

John D. Lee Jr. 1898-1965
"Johnny Lee"

Johnny Lee played the shyster lawyer Algonquin J. Calhoun in the Amos 'N' Andy TV Series. 

Dewey Pigmeat Markham 1904–1981

Best known for his signature routine "Here Come Da Judge." Although he performed exclusively for Black audiences until very late in his career, he refused to abandon blackface until the 1950s. It was as integral to his performance as any costume.

Dewey Pigmeat Markham

Hattie McDaniel (1892-1952)

Hattie McDaniel is best known for her portrayal as "Mammy" in 1939's Gone with the Wind. She was the first African-American to win an Academy Award. 

Hattie-McDaniel

Thelma "Butterfly" McQueen (1911 – 1995)

Butterfly McQueen is most famous for her role in Gone With the Wind (1939) as the slave " Prissy" with the high squeaky voice who didn't "know nothin' 'bout birthin' babies."

Thelma Butterfly McQueen

Tim Moore 1887-1958
"George "Kingfish" Stevens"

Although Tim Moore will forever be known as "The Kingfish" in the pioneering series The Amos 'N' Andy Show, he was actually far better known for his career on the stage and as a comedian in vaudeville.

Mantan Moreland 1902-1973

Moreland's defining role was that of Birmingham Brown, the loyal chauffeur to master detective Charlie Chan in fifteen films made by Monogram Studios in the 1940s.
 

Bill "Bojangles" Robinson 1878-1949

He was called “the quintessential Tom” because of his cheerful and shameless subservience to whites in films. But in real life Robinson was the sort of man who, when refused service at an all-white luncheonette, would lay his pearl-handled revolver on the counter and demand to be served.
 

Bill "Bojangles" Robinson 1878-1949

Nick Stewart 1910-2000
"Lightnin"

Character actor from vaudeville and radio who is best known as Lightnin' from the Amos 'N' Andy Show. He was one of the first inductees in the Academy of Television Arts and Science's new Archive of American Television.

Nick Stewart - Lightnin

Billie Thomas 1931-1980
"Buckwheat"

Billie Thomas (originally William Thomas, Jr.) is best remembered as Buckwheat in the Our Gang (Little Rascals) shorts from 1934 until the series ended in 1943. 

Billie Buckwheat Thomas

Bert Williams 1874-1922 

W.C. Fields called him "the funniest man I ever saw and the saddest man I ever knew." Unable to realize his highest ambitions, yet able to illuminate a degrading caricature with rare humanity, Bert Williams earned a place as one of the most significant figures in the history of American show business.
 

Spencer Williams, Jr. 1893-1969
"Andy Brown"

Spencer Williams, Jr. who would become known to TV audiences as Andy Brown in The Amos 'N' Andy Show  produced, directed, and acted in numerous race movies through the 1930s and 1940s.

Spencer Williams - Andy Brown

 

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Bert Williams

Blackface! -- Contents

History of Blackface

Blacks in Blackface

History of Minstrel Shows

Minstrel Show Female Impersonators

Stephen Foster

Origins of Jump Jim Crow

Blackface Origins in Clowning

Blackface History Prior to Minstrel Shows

Excerpts from Monarchs of Minstrelsy (1911)

Famous Blackface Minstrel Performers

Blackface Around the World

About This Web Site


Racial and Racist Stereotypes in Media

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Blackface!
Black Stereotypes
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Asian Stereotypes
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Brownface!
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Redface!
Indian Stereotypes
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Arab Stereotypes
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Jewish Stereotypes
 

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