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"In the Spotlight"


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In the Spotlight: Louise Beavers

 

Louise Beavers born March 8, 1902 in Cincinnati, Ohio was a prolific African-American film actress. She had such a kind looking face and sweet disposition that viewers felt a "connection" with her, almost as if she were family.

She appeared in dozens of films from the 1920s to the 1950s most often in the role of a maid, servant, or slave.

 

Miss Beavers started her performing career as a singer in a minstrel show. She had a beautiful voice and sang in some of her films. Prior to her Hollywood film career she worked as a real-life maid for silent film actress Leatrice Joy, who helped her get into films.

This led to her playing the same, stereotypical role in many films. She was one of the most frequently employed black actors of her day.

Two oddities regarding her screen persona were: she did not have a southern accent and had to develop one; she was not a fat person and had to keep up her weight for her roles. Her talents were monumental but wasted in these stereotyped roles.

 

Among the many films she appeared in were "Freaks" (1932), "She Done Him Wrong" with Mae West (1933), "General Spanky" (1936), "Holiday Inn" (1942), "Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House"(1948), and "The Facts of Life" (1960). Beavers' most famous and noted role was her portrayal of Delilah Johnson, the housekeeper/cook whose employer transforms her into an Aunt Jemima-like celebrity in the 1934 film "Imitation of Life". One of the film's main conflicts was that between Delilah and her light-skinned daughter Peola (played by Fredi Washington), who wanted to pass for white. "Imitation of Life" was the first time in American cinema history that a black woman's problems were given major emotional weight in a major Hollywood motion picture.

Unfortunately the Oscar for best supporting actress wasn't a category until 1936, otherwise Miss Beavers may have been the first African-American to win for her sterling performance.

 

The vast majority of Beavers' other film roles, however, were not as prestigious. Along with Hattie McDaniel, she became the on-screen personification of the "mammy" stereotype: a large, matronly black woman with a quick temper, a large laugh, and a subservient manner.

In numerous pre-codes including, "Our Blushing Brides", "Manslaughter" as a prison inmate, "Paid", "Party Husband", "Annabelle's Affairs", "Girls About Town", "The Strange Love of Molly Louvain", "Hell's Highway", "Wild Girl", "42nd Street", "Bombshell" with Harlow, etc.

Also in "Make Way for Tomorrow", "Scandal Street", "Brother Rat", "I Want a Divorce", "Belle Starr" with Gene Tierney, DeMille's "Reap the Wild Wind", "The Big Street" with Lucille Ball, "Jack London", "The Jackie Robonson Story", "The Goddess", "All the Fine Young Cannibals", etc.

 

Although Beavers did not approve of how her characters were scripted, she nonetheless continued appearing in films, because, as her contemporary Hattie McDaniel once stated, "it's better to play a maid than be a maid."

In the 1940s, she was a resident of the affluent enclave in the West Adams district of Los Angeles known as ?Sugar Hill? Her neighbors included actors Hattie McDaniel, Ethel Waters, Joel Fluellen and Frances Williams;

 

Beavers was one of four actresses (including McDaniel, Ethel Waters, and Amanda Randolph) to portray housekeeper Beulah on the "Beulah" television show. That show was the first television sitcom to star an African American, even though the role was a somewhat subservient one. She also appeared on "Make Room for Daddy" with Danny Thomas.

 

She was a member of Sigma Gamma Rho sorority, one of the four African-American sororities.

 

Although Married once, she had no children. Louise Beavers died of a heart attack in Hollywood, California on October 26, 1962 at the age of 60. She was laid to rest with her mother.

 

She was inducted posthumously into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame in 1976.

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What a sweet lady, would of loved to have met her.

Got this from IMDb:

The studio forced her to eat extra servings of food so she could play the "black mammy" roles that were available to actresses of color at the time....(unbelievable)

and: Before she became an actress she was the maid for actress Leatrice Joy, did she help her get into films?

 

I figured she doesn't have a star in Hollywood.

 

vallo

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Vallo, although I do appreciate the additional info, it does appear in the copy below for Miss Beavers.

 

You guessed it. The lady does not have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

 

Dewey, your more than welcome. Glad you enjoyed the profile.

 

Stoney, I recall that line very well.

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>>Vallo, although I do appreciate the additional info, it does appear in the copy below for Miss Beavers.<<

 

I Realized that Mr.M, but I thought it was worth repeating..SORRY....

 

vallo

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Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

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After Louise Beavers' died, Leatrice Joy, who had remained friendly throughout the years, wrote: "Somehow it is rather difficult to realize that Louise is dead. No. I say no because how can anyone bury in the ground the qualities of sincerity, loyalty, tenderness? All these were my Louise. And, I'm sure wherever she is she is still spreading those God-given qualities and is busy as a bumble bee, making everyone happy."

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Mongo;

 

You're a man of your word! (Not that anybody was in doubt.)

You promised me Louise's bio back in January, and you delivered.

I had so much to say about this "Pisces Goddess" (great accolade!), but my friends & neighbors beat me to all of it!

Well, I guess about all I can add is, although I'm saddened to hear of her lack of honorment on the HWoF, I think we can all agree she earned a "star" in the hearts of several generations.

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Fine, fine & dandy, have it your way . . but one fine brittle January day, your sled will lay about you in flinders after an avalanche, your team lost, your matches damp, and then, as the north wind begins to shrill as it skirls about you, with the shadows of fast-approaching Night stretching long about you and the aurora crackling like a liquid curtain of ice overhead, and you feel in the marrow of your bones the mercury plummeting past the 9th level of Tartarus -

THEN -

Then you'll wish you'd been a little nicer to ol' Klondike, the mighty Lord Avenger of the Frigid Yukon!

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