Friday, 17 June 2011

"Exotic" beauties

The good old days weren’t always so good. Making a bid for fame when your ethnicity wasn’t white meant less screen time, stereotypical portrayals and losing roles to white actresses. Lena Horne lost to Ava Gardner in Show Boat in 1951 and Anna may Wong to Luise Rainer in The Good Earth in 1937. And some, like Merle Oberon, hushed down their heritage to ensure a better career. This post are for these beautiful and talented women. I hope you don’t mind if I reach back a little- some pictures are from the 1920’s and 30’s.

Merle Oberon, who was Anglo/Indian. Apart from Gilda Hayworth she was the first sctress I noticed as a child.

Lena Horne, before and after a nose job, evidently.

Molly Spotted Elk

The absolutely stunning Anna May Wong

The less known, but equally stunning Lotus Long.


Dorothy Dandridge

For good measure, here are some great singers too, like Sara Vaughan.

Lil Armstrong

Florence Mills

Ella Fitzgerald

Billie Hoilday. At first I thought she wore a gigantic flower in her hair, but look closer and you see that it is made of feathers!

The beautiful dancer Katherine Dunham

Fely Franquelli

And as I reach back in time, let's not forget the wonderful Joséphine Baker.


Clare said...

Here's to these ladies! Very good post - I do think too many people think the past was all wonderful, but they forget that there are things that have changed since then for very good reason and this is a good example of that.

(This is the GentlewomanThief, bit I don't seem to be able to use my Wordpress account to comment at the moment!)

Popbabe7 said...

They are all lovely. Thanks for this great post. I think it's easy to look at the past with rose-tinted glasses and forget that some of this was quite dark.

We still got a long way to go in my opinion.

Kristina said...

Fantastiska vackra talangfulla kvinnor!
Merle Oberon ...vilken skönhet! Lika snygg som Hedy Lamarr, minst!
Håller med Clare. Att leva i det förgågna är verkligen inte min melodi. Snarare att inspireras av allt det snygga från förr. Och försöka hitta hållbarhet i stilen...

Hannah said...

Fantastic post, I adore Anna.x

Isis said...

Clare: Yes, it's easy to look back with rose-tinted glasses, as popbabes says, but I think it's important to remember the less nice stuff too!

Popbabe: I think they're gorgeous too! Indeed, a long way still.

Kristina! Visst var hon! Tydligen så fick hon hyn i ansiktet förstört i en olycka, men filmades med så bra ljussättning att det inte syndes.

Precis- jag vill bara åt russinen. :)

Hannah: Me too! I haven't seen any of her movies, though- I really must.

Jessie said...

These are gorgeous! My partner just brought a children's book home from the library about Anna May Wong, who apparently was quite the tough lady and one of the first Asian actresses with the sway to (eventually) refuse dragon lady/oriental princess roles. It must have been awful, for her and other actresses of color, to realize that their entire careers were predicated on gamely playing along with racial insults.

The book is here, if you're interested: and well worth checking out!

Isis said...

Jessie: That she rebelled against her static roles may explain why she did so few movies after the 30's.

An awful situation indeed. I wanted to include an africam american actress who disguised her heritage and made movies as a white woman. It must have been an extremely stressful situation, but unfortunately I couldn't recall her name.

I will definitely chek out the book! Thank you!

6eg89344 said...

Love this blog! I'm quite sure this is not who you're speaking of but Carol Channing is an America actress who hid the fact that she was biracial.

Isis said...

Thank you! No, it wasn't her- I didn't know that. Thank you for the info!

Jay RPer said...

My instagram page is built around the basis of this post! It's all about old Hollywood stars of color, well known and forgotten, since the majority of the OH pages on IG are rather whitewashed. Check it out, it's @colorful_oldhollywood :)

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