Author: Bolen High

Sidney Poitier – African American Landmark Actor & Director

In 1963 Sidney Poitier became the first African American to win an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Lead Role creating the character of Homer Smith in Lilies of the Field.

His 40+ year career as an Oscar-winning star and film director broke down barriers for actors of color, becoming a Hollywood leading man at a time before black Americans were even granted full civil rights. He also opened doors for black directors after stepping behind the camera to direct  nine features. In addition, he served as the non-resident Bahamian Ambassador to Japan and UNESCO and was recipient of  the United States’ highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom . 

Academy Award Winning, African American Movie Posters, African-American Memorabilia, Oscar Winning, Presidential Medal Freedom

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Four Early 20th Century LGBTQ Notables

The four gifted LGBTQ individuals featured in this month’s blog made significant contributions in their respective fields during the first half of the 20th Century.

Dorothy Arzner, a Lesbian, was, from 1927 until her retirement from feature film directing in 1943, the only female feature film director working in Hollywood for the better part of her career.

Julian Eltinge, an American stage and film actor and female impersonator was a star in vaudeville, on Broadway (where a theater was named after him) and became one of the highest paid actors in silent films. 

George Francis Peduzzi, known professionally as Karyl Norman, was also a female impersonator who was popular in vaudeville, nightclubs, on Broadway  and throughout Europe in the 1920s and 30s.

Anna Sosenko. was best known as a songwriter of “Darling, Je Vous Aime Beaucoup,” which she wrote for Hildegarde — the incomparable Hildegarde, which was the name that  Walter Winchell gave her. For 20 years Sosenko, was Hildegarde’s manager and companion and was responsible for turning the “luscious, hazel-eyed Milwaukee blonde who sings the way Garbo looks” into the chanteuse Eleanor Roosevelt  nicknamed the “First Lady of the Supper Clubs.” 

drag artist, Drag Queens, female film director, female impersonator, film director

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The Saint Collection

Created for Manhattan’s famous gay disco, The Saint, this stunning poster archive consists of 33 extraordinary pieces and date from 1982 through 2004. The super club (as it was originally designated) opened September 30, 1980 and closed April 30, 1988. However, its spirit, the music and, of course, the dancing and everything that went with it, continues on as The Saint At Large.

These pop-up events included the infamous Black and White Parties and annual Halloween and New Year’s Eve fantasy extravaganzas. As a club, The Saint pushed the limits of the experience and architecture of the discotheque, and its design created an environment for gay men to live openly and find a sense of community. Its importance in New York’s LGBT movement is now recognized by the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project

Bruce Mailman, Gay New York, LGBTQ, LGBTQ Entertainment, New York Disco, Phil Graham

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Dorothy Dandridge – Hollywood’s First African-American Sex Symbol

Dorothy Jean Dandridge (November 9, 1922 – September 8, 1965) was an American film and theatre actresssinger, and dancer. She is one of the earliest black movie stars and the first woman of color to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress, which was for her performance in Carmen Jones (1954). 

Apollo theater, Cafe de Paris, Cotton Club, Count Basie, Dore Schary, Ed Sullivan, Harry Belafonte, Louis Armstrong, Metro Goldwyn Mayer, Mills Brothers, Mocambo, Otto Preminger, Rouben Mamoulian

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Exhibitor Pressbooks

One of the most interesting yet lesser-known motion picture collectible is the Exhibitor Book, Pressbook or Presskit. As exemplified by the Blade Runner Presskit above, containing 18 supplements (78 pp. in all, stapled together), 21 photos, which vary from 6 ¼ x 10” (16 x 26 cm.) to 7 ¾ x 10” (20 x 26 cm.), and the original printed studio envelope in which the presskit was mailed, its purpose was to help promote the film.

20th Century, Blade runner, Carole Lombard, Columbia Pictures, Frank Capra, Fredrico Fellini, La Dolce Vita, Marlene Dietrich, Marx Brothers, May West, Paramount Pictures, Reuben Manoulian

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