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Media Depictions of the Mammy Archetype‏ by Sean Smith » I For Color

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Media Depictions of the Mammy Archetype‏ by Sean Smith

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Media Depictions of the Mammy Archetype

By Sean Smith

Editied information, additional photo and film/television research by Dale Shields‏

Sean Mammy's 22

The Mammy archetype is one of the most notable Black stereotypes and caricatures which exist in (Black) American culture.

 

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The Mammy, generally characterized as masculine, overweight, sexually unattractive, large-breasted, non-threatening, and protective of their white families, but aggressive or hostile toward men; has been depicted in best-selling works of literature- Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852), on radio and television- The Beulah Show (1934), countless movies from D.W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation (1915) to the recent film adaptation of Kathryn Stockett’s The Help(2009); and to a lesser known extent within minstrel and vaudeville shows.

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The presence of the Mammy was not only an important aspect of the White Southern home during later periods of, and increasingly after slavery, but the Mammy archetype is also responsible for having propelled and too some degree haunted the careers of many historical Black actresses. Due to the racial tensions after slavery, the lack of desire to include Black women into the cinematic world of Hollywood, and overall lack of jobs for Black women, many Black actresses were limited to subservient roles on film and television. This often transpired into Black women playing domestic workers, and maintaining the stereotypical caricature of the Mammy role.

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mammy-statue-1 The role of the “Mammy” in the southern plantation   household grew out of the role of the Negro slaves. Mammy was seen by southerners as a way to create and maintain relationship with Blacks after slavery, and she was a vital aspect to maintaining the domestic sphere of the white household; it was not uncommon for Mammy to also take on the responsibility of rearing the offspring of her white family. When examining Mammy’s role and status within the white family structure, she could at times be seen as equal to that of the mistress of the home, because of her non-threatening and desexualized image. Mammy often gave orders to the white children and was also seen as a main source of protection to the family and for the home in the absence of the family. Due to Mammy’s semi-authoritative role within the white household, she and her family-husband and children if any were present; were given a separate living quarters not too far off the main housing unit of the family she was serving.

MaMa's breast (Mammy figure 1861) Although it may seem that the role of Mammy was more dignified compared to other servants, any social-status achieved was diminished by her subservient domestic duties. Mammy’s often worked long hours to ensure the social and domestic stability of her master’s family, which often consequentially resulted in the neglect of her own family. Given this factor, Blacks viewed the role of the Mammy as a form of cultural transgression for the Black race, but unfortunately were unable to transcend the Mammy image, as Black women sought out work in post-slavery era and as they became more visible in American cinematic culture. Although the Mammy archetype is most notable in visual media, one of the earliest mentions of a Mammy figure transpired from a literary character within Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

 

Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

In Stowe’s novel, Aunt Chloe was the mammy figure, who was responsible for the domestic duties of the Shelby household; and often struggled internally with complex issues about her role as a domestic servant and slavery.  Aunt Chloe was described as many Mammy figures have been throughout history- nurturing and protective of “her” white family, but less caring toward her own children. She is the prototypical fictional mammy: self-sacrificing, white-identified, fat, asexual, good-humored, a loyal cook, housekeeper and quasi-family member.

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A round, black, shiny face is hers, so glossy as to suggest the idea that she might have been washed over with the whites of eggs, like one of her own tea rusks. Her whole plump countenance beams with satisfaction and contentment from under a well-starched checkered turban, bearing on it; however, if we must confess it, a little of that tinge of self-consciousness which becomes the first cook of the neighborhood, as Aunt Chloe was universally held and acknowledged to be.

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Although the Mammy was first described in a literary text, the Mammy caricature which is still present in today’s society; became a staple in American entertainment in the early 1900s[5].

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First appearing in the film adaptation of Thomas Dixon’s novel The Clansman (1905), the highly criticized; for is stereotypical racial depictions of Blacks, D.W. Griffith’s silent film, Birth of a Nation (1915).

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Birth of a Nation depicted the Mammy archetype played by actress Jennie Lee in Blackface. Birth of a Nation, was protested by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, due to what the NAACP saw as a promotion of the Ku Klux Klan and racial stereotypes which negatively depicted Black men as savages and Black women as servants or Mammy’s.

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In 1927 the legacy of the Mammy continued to be mentioned in Blackface form with the first talking movie in Al Jolson’s The Jazz Singer[6].

Al Jolson as Jack Robin in The Jazz Singer singing his classic Mammy, 1927. Al Jolson “Mammy” The Jazz Singer 1927 by Howard & Tami.

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 AL JOLSON is a travelling minstrel in the classic 1930 film musical "MAMMY".

Although Jolson; who is of Jewish descent (born Asa Yoelson), was known for performing his songs in Blackface, he is often widely credited for deconstructing racial barriers and negative attitudes against Black performers on Broadway.

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Al Jolson “Mammy” The Jazz Singer 1927



Howard & Tami | Myspace Video

In John Kenrick’s- Al Jolson: A Biography, Kenrick, notes that Jolson felt that Blackface “gave him a sense of freedom and spontaneity he had never known.[7] Jolson is also widely known to have been influenced by Black music, mainly tunes from New Orleans; which explains Jolson’s gravitation toward and use of Black Jazz music within his shows. Jolson is additionally credited with introducing white audiences into the culture of Black entertainment.

Jolson’s success in minstrel and vaudeville shows, and the growing popularity of the Mammy figure, other white male actors, began to follow Jolson’s lead in voicing or portraying the Mammy.  Most notable is actor Marlon Hurt, who was the white actor, who used a Black dialectical voice for the character Beulah. Beulah; voiced by Hurt, was first heard on the Hometown Incorporated Radio series and the first season of the Beulah radio series (1939)[8].

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Marlon Hurt (Actor)

Marlon Hurt
(Actor)

Hurt (1905-1946), was an American stage entertainer and radio actor. It is believed that Hurt’s inspiration for the Beulah voice was an Africa-American woman named Mary who was Hurt’s family Mammy.[9] After Hurt appeared on several radio programs using the Black dialectical voice, the Beulah show was eventually given its own platform in 1943. Although Hurt brought the voice of Beulah to critical acclaim, his tenure on the radio series as the voice of Beulah was short lived due to his untimely death in 1946; near the end of the first season of the series.[10] Following Hurt’s death and keeping in line with previous voicing of Black dialects by white actors, Beulah was then voiced by another white actor by the name of Bob Corley; at which time the show was once again renamed to The Beulah Show[11]. Corley remained the voice of Beulah until November 24, 1947, when notable Black actress Hattie McDaniel took over the radio show earning $1000 a week, and eventually negotiated $2000 a week. McDaniel garnered the highest ratings for the show than previously earned by both Hurt and Corley. McDaniel later appeared on six episodes in the second season of the T.V. adaptation of The Beulah Show in 1951, but was replaced by actress Lillian Randolph after falling ill.[12]

VIVIEN LEIGH and HATTIE McDANIEL in “Gone With the Wind” (1939)

VIVIEN LEIGH and HATTIE McDANIEL in “Gone With the Wind” (1939)

“I’d rather play a maid and make $700 a week than be a maid and make $7.”

  Hattie McDaniel

Biography

“She was the first black actor to win an Academy Award, but Hattie McDaniel paid a price to cross Hollywood’s color line. Schooled in minstrelsy in the years leading up to the Depression, during which time she developed the stock character of a sassy black housemaid who refused to kowtow to her white employers, McDaniel arrived in Hollywood after the 1929 stock market crash and was soon earning more money playing servants than most stockbrokers were seeing from their investments. Billed low in the credits, McDaniel more than measured up to the likes of Clark Gable, Bette Davis, Jean Harlow and Barbara Stanwyck, often stealing one or two scenes in such films as John Ford’s “Judge Priest” (1934), Tay Garnett’s “China Seas” (1935), and George Stevens’ “Alice Adams” (1935) from their A-list players. Gable recommended McDaniel to producer David O. Selznick for the role of Scarlett O’Hara’s nursemaid Mammy in “Gone with the Wind” (1939); Selznick was so impressed with the actress that he had the screenplay rewritten to accommodate her. Though segregation precluded McDaniel from attending the film’s Atlanta premiere, vindication came with an Oscar win for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.
 
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She was the first black actor to win an Academy Award, but Hattie McDaniel paid a price to cross Hollywood’s color line. Schooled in minstrelsy in the years leading up to the Depression, during which time she developed the stock character of a sassy black housemaid who refused to kowtow to her white employers, McDaniel arrived in Hollywood after the 1929 stock market crash and was soon earning more money playing servants than most stockbrokers were seeing from their investments. Billed low in the credits, McDaniel more than measured up to the likes of Clark Gable, Bette Davis, Jean Harlow and Barbara Stanwyck, often stealing one or two scenes in such films as John Ford’s “Judge Priest” (1934), Tay Garnett’s “China Seas” (1935), and George Stevens’ “Alice Adams” (1935) from their A-list players. Gable recommended McDaniel to producer David O. Selznick for the role of Scarlett O’Hara’s nursemaid Mammy in “Gone with the Wind” (1939); Selznick was so impressed with the actress that he had the screenplay rewritten to accommodate her. Though segregation precluded McDaniel from attending the film’s Atlanta premiere, vindication came with an Oscar win for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. If her films declined in quality in the years before her death in 1952, Hattie McDaniel had long since proved her point that being one of the first successful African-American actresses was a groundbreaking achievement and that no matter the criticism, she always lived by her credo, “I’d rather play a maid than be one.”
 
Hattie McDaniel was born in Wichita, KS on June 10, 1893. The youngest of 13 children of Baptist minister Harry McDaniel and his wife, the former Susan Holbert – both former slaves – McDaniel grew up in Denver, CO. In 1908, she enrolled in Denver East High School, where she was active in the drama club and won a contest sponsored by the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. Dropping out in her sophomore year, McDaniel joined her brother Otis’ minstrel show, writing songs and touring with the troupe in Colorado, Kansas and Nebraska, while also singing on the radio. The company disbanded with Otis McDaniel’s death in 1916. She also founded an all-female minstrel troupe with her sister, Etta Goff. In her time with the McDaniel Sisters Company, she began developing a stock character, an all-knowing, mouthy mammy. In 1920, McDaniel was hired as a vocalist for Professor George Morrison’s Melody Hounds, a Denver-based jazz orchestra, and recorded a number of jazz sides for Okeh and Paramount Records, as well as the Kansas City label Merritt.
 
After the 1929 stock market crash, McDaniel was reduced to working as a washroom attendant in a whites-only Milwaukee nightclub, though she eventually convinced its owner to let her perform. Eventually she joined her brother Sam and sisters Etta and Orlena in Hollywood, where Sam had found work in radio and films. While she looked for acting work, McDaniel became a regular on “The Optimistic Do-Nut Hour,” broadcast on KNX, where she perfected the character of Hi-Hat Hattie, an uppity black maid who knew better than her affluent white employers and never tried to hide it. She made her film debut for Universal as a hospital patient in James Whale’s melodrama “The Impatient Maiden” (1932), starring Lew Ayres and Mae Clark. A bit as a singer in Harry Beaumont’s “Are You Listening?” (1932) at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer followed but when she was cast as a maid in Charles Brabin’s political drama “The Washington Masquerade” (1932) and a cook in the Hoot Gibson Western “The Boiling Point” (1932), she found her niche as Hollywood’s go-to sassy domestic. Though far from attaining co-star status with Marlene Dietrich in Josef von Sternberg’s Depression era melodrama “Blonde Venus” (1932), McDaniel’s onscreen business with the Berlin import put her on par with her leading lady in the eyes of moviegoers worldwide. McDaniel also worked well with Mae West, playing her opinionated manicurist in Wesley Ruggles’ comedy “I’m No Angel” (1933), co-starring Cary Grant.
 
It was not until John Ford’s “Judge Priest” (1934), which put her in the frame with humorist Will Rogers and black sidekick Stepin Fetchit, that Hi-Hat Hattie truly began to assert herself, cutting through the air with her demonstrative, booming voice, and popping her eyes proactively as if to silence any potential disagreement and rebuke the coonish inclinations of Fetchit’s lazy houseboy. The manifestation of McDaniel’s onscreen persona, as the true whip hand in any of her domestic situations, was evident in many of her films that year, including the comedy “Lost in the Stratosphere” and “The Little Colonel,” co-starring Shirley Temple. That same year, McDaniel joined the Screen Actors Guild and signed a long-term contract with The Fox Film Corporation. It was director George Stevens who received credit for revealing the true Hi-Hat Hattie in his film “Alice Adams” (1935). Starring Katherine Hepburn in an early role, the film revolved around a poor girl who aims to make a place for herself in society by pretending to be affluent, roping her parents into the charade of hiring a black maid to impress suitor Fred MacMurray. In the film’s classic dinner scene, the white characters leapfrog from one faux pas to another while McDaniel’s huffy hireling, Malena Burns, grunts, rolls her eyes, chews gum, and mutters withering asides that deflate the white characters’ pretension with the acuity of a Greek chorus. Critics singled out McDaniel’s brilliant comic timing and her characters grew in prominence. At MGM, she played Jean Harlow’s servant in both Tay Garnett’s “China Seas” (1935) and Jack Conway’s “Saratoga” (1937) and was capricious society girl Barbara Stanwyck’s surrogate mother in “The Mad Miss Manton” (1938). In all of these roles, McDaniel was only nominally subservient to her white employers, to whom she served as life coach, Devil’s advocate, and mother confessor.
 
But it was producer David O. Selznick’s “Gone with the Wind” (1939), based on the historical novel by Margaret Mitchell and set against the backdrop of the American Civil War, that provided McDaniel with the role of her lifetime. As Mammy, house servant to spoiled Georgia peach Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh), McDaniel brought her usual stock-in-trade bossiness to bear, but the film’s scope and rich Technicolor palette seemed to push the actress through the imagined fourth wall and into the laps of moviegoers. Etched by the actress – and Selznick, who ordered script changes to complement the actress’ style – as both a foster mother to the orphaned Scarlett and the film’s only true defender of family values, Mammy was at once an expressly comical character and the film’s true heart and soul. Though the color of her skin precluded her from attending the film’s star-studded but segregated Atlanta premiere, McDaniel was singled out for praise by The New York Times and became the first black actor to win an Academy Award. In fact, it was a credit to the woman’s great dignity that she was able to make such a touching, teary speech after being seated at the far rear of the ceremony’s venue, while her non-nominated white co-stars sat up front.
 
Despite the segregation in the world at large, she became a close friend to many of her Hollywood co-stars, among them Clark Gable, Bette Davis, Henry Fonda, Joan Crawford, Ronald Reagan and Shirley Temple, living and working among them as something like a peer. Unfortunately she drew fire from some blacks for choosing to play second class Americans – prompting the quick-witted actress to quip “I’d rather play a maid than be one.” She would play domestics throughout World War II, taking care of Errol Flynn’s doomed General Custer in “They Died with Their Boots On” (1941), picking up after displaced New Yorkers Jack Benny and Ann Sheridan in the rural farce “George Washington Slept Here” (1942), wronged by employer Bette Davis in “In This Our Life” (1942), and mentoring scatterbrained teen Joyce Reynolds in Michael Curtiz’ featherweight “Janie” (1944) and Vincent Sherman’s sequel “Janie Gets Married” (1946). As Aunt Tempy in Disney’s “Song of the South” (1946), McDaniel was nursemaid to child star Bobby Driscoll, but the spark of her earlier performances was conspicuous in its absence. In her final feature film role, as a maid in the racetrack drama “The Big Wheel” (1949) starring Mickey Rooney, she barely registered.
 
Starting in 1947, McDaniel made $1,000 per week as the star of the CBS radio comedy “The Beulah Show.” The character originated in 1944 as a supporting player on “Fibber McGee and Molly” and was voiced by white actor Marlin Hurt. When McDaniel assumed the role, she became the first black woman to star in a network radio program. A TV spin-off, “Beulah” was launched by ABC in 1950, with Ethel Waters in the title role. When Waters left the sitcom in 1951, McDaniel took on the role for television as well, but appeared in only six episodes. Diagnosed with breast cancer, she ceded the radio series to Lillian Randolph and the TV show to Louise Beavers. Hattie McDaniel died on Oct. 26, 1952. Though it had been her wish to be buried at the segregated Hollywood Cemetery, her remains were interred instead at Los Angeles’ Rosedale Cemetery. Two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame were awarded posthumously. In 1999, a monument was placed in her honor at the renamed Hollywood Forever Cemetery, her preferred resting place.”

By Richard Harland Smith

tumblr_law7jq8TTE1qcw9y0o1_250  Actress Hattie McDaniel (1895-1952)

Hattie McDaniel born June 10, 1895, was one of the best known Black American actresses of the 20th Century. McDaniel, like many Black actresses of her time period, often struggled to gain television and film roles outside of the subservient role of the Mammy.

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Although McDaniel had previously garnered critical acclaim for her voicing of and appearance on The Beulah Show; as Beulah Brown- with co-star Ruby Dandridge (Mother of screen star Dorothy Dandrige), McDaniel was present in many films throughout her career in the 1920s and 1930s.

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She was most notable for her role as “Mammy”, in the critically acclaimed film Gone with the Wind (1934).

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 Hattie McDaniel (Mammy)

Gone with the Wind

http://youtu.be/FZ7r2OVu1ss

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McDaniel had played the Mammy figure in many of her prior films, but her role in Gone with the Wind was pivotal due to her being the first Black actress to acquire an Academy Award nomination and win for her portrayal of “Mammy” in the film[13], and the personal connection she made with the character.

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Try_again_Mammy  McDaniel stated that she  understood Mammy, because her own grandmother had worked on a plantation in a similar role.   McDaniel was widely praised for her success and simultaneously received massive criticism for her continued participation in maintaining the lifeline of the Mammy caricature. The harshest criticism of McDaniel’s role in the film was from the N.A.A.C.P. The N.A.A.C.P felt that McDaniel was creating a counterproductive dialogue through her continued acceptance of subservient cinematic roles in a time period when they were fighting for racial equality.  In response to her critics, McDaniel was quoted to have said: “Why should I complain about making seven thousand dollars a week playing a maid? If I didn’t, I’d be making seven dollars a week actually being one.”

In addition to McDaniel’s personal detractors, the film itself received numerous amounts of criticism from Black press and the Black community. Objections of the film ranged from the whimsical use of the word “nigger and the overall negative representation of Black culture and its people. Although both McDaniel and the film received its share of praise and criticism, the role of Mammy, played by McDaniel, was said to have help shape the future respect of performances for Black actresses- including McDaniel’s co-star Butterfly McQueen.

“Thelma “Butterfly” McQueen (January 7, 1911 – December 22, 1995) was an American actress. Originally a dancer, McQueen first appeared as Prissy, Scarlett O’Hara’s maid in the 1939 film Gone with the Wind. She continued as an actress in film in the 1940s, then moving to television acting in the 1950’s.”

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
 Butterfly McQueen Gone with the Wind


Butterfly McQueen
Gone with the Wind

Ms. McDaniel and Ms. McQueen were both at the height of their careers during their appearance in Gone with the Wind, but they were only two out of several Black actresses who were making strides in the film industry; all nonetheless as Mammy caricatures. Most closely related to the skill and talent of Ms. McDaniel was that of Ms. Louise Beavers.

“Louise Beavers (March 8, 1902 – October 26, 1962) was an African-American film and television actress. Beavers appeared in dozens of films from the 1920s until 1960, most often in the role of a maid, servant, or slave. A native of Cincinnati, Ohio.  Louise Beavers was a breakthrough actress for African Americans. Beavers became known as a symbol of a “mammy” on the screen. A mammy archetype “is the portrayal within a narrative framework or other imagery of a domestic servant of African descent, generally good-natured, often overweight, and loud”.[” –

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Louise Beavers

Louise Beavers

 

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Prior to Hattie McDaniel’s success in GWTW, another well-known actress during the time period was Louise Beavers. Louise Beavers, born March 8, 1902, was a Black American stage, television, and film actress; is noted to possibly have been a descendant of President James Monroe. Louise Beavers began her acting career in the 1920s, performing with the Lady Minstrels- a group of young women who staged amateur productions and appeared on stage at the Loews State Theatre. Beavers begin her film career in 1927 and like those before her-most notably Hattie McDaniel; Louise Beavers was often casted for the Mammy role in her films. It is initially stated that Beavers rejected the casting call for a role in the film adaptation of Uncle Tom’s Cabin three times before finally accepting the role, “because of the African roles given to colored people.” Beavers acclaim in the 1920s, was through her role as Julia in the 1929 film Coquette.

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Louise Beavers as Julia in Coquette (1929)

It is believed that this role established Beavers as a prominent African-American actress within the mainstream industry. Because of Beavers’ stature and dialectical voice, she soon became known as the actress to play the Mammy roles. Beavers’ best-known role was that of Aunt Delilah in Imitation of Life (1934).

"Co-star Fredi Washington told film historian Donald Bogle, “the one thing that happened with Louise was that her agents immediately, when she made such a hit in the picture, upped her salary beyond what anyone was going to pay for the type roles they had for her. I told her at the time, I just don’t think this is wise. But of course, they were her agents” (150-151).   Beavers continued her busy career after Imitation of Life, but unlike other actors who enjoyed a breakout success there would be no opportunity for Louise Beavers to follow with another signature role. She was the most popular and successful black actress of this time, but there wasn’t anything to play except a long line of maid roles."

“Co-star Fredi Washington told film historian Donald Bogle, “the one thing that happened with Louise was that her agents immediately, when she made such a hit in the picture, upped her salary beyond what anyone was going to pay for the type roles they had for her. I told her at the time, I just don’t think this is wise. But of course, they were her agents” (150-151).
Beavers continued her busy career after Imitation of Life, but unlike other actors who enjoyed a breakout success there would be no opportunity for Louise Beavers to follow with another signature role. She was the most popular and successful black actress of this time, but there wasn’t anything to play except a long line of maid roles.”

http://immortalephemera.com/32629/louise-beavers-biography/

 

"Co-star Fredi Washington told film historian Donald Bogle, “the one thing that happened with Louise was that her agents immediately, when she made such a hit in the picture, upped her salary beyond what anyone was going to pay for the type roles they had for her. I told her at the time, I just don’t think this is wise. But of course, they were her agents”   Beavers continued her busy career after Imitation of Life, but unlike other actors who enjoyed a breakout success there would be no opportunity for Louise Beavers to follow with another signature role. She was the most popular and successful black actress of this time, but there wasn’t anything to play except a long line of maid roles.""

 

Imitation of Life (1934)-LouiseBeavers Claudette Colbert

Imitation of Life (1934)-Louise Beavers Claudette Colbert

Louise Beavers and Carole Lombard in Made For Each Other

Louise Beavers and Carole Lombard in Made For Each Other

This role transformed Beavers from supporting actress; which she had previously played for white actresses, into the star of her films. Imitation of Life detailed the story of a Black maid played by Beavers, who inherits a pancake recipe. This movie’s mammy gave the valuable recipe to Miss Bea, her boss. Miss Bea successfully marketed the recipe and she offered Aunt Delilah a twenty percent interest in the pancake company.

 

"Louise Beavers played the maid on Make Room For Daddy for only the 1953-54 season."

“Louise Beavers played the maid on Make Room For Daddy for only the 1953-54 season.”

While Beavers’ continued success and notoriety in the film industry is important, what is even more intriguing is the concept behind Beavers’ character in Imitation of Life. Aunt Delilah was a character conceived from the Aunt Jemima pancake mix Mammy, portrayed by Nancy Green from 1890 until her death in 1923. Nancy Green born a slave in Kentucky in 1834; was hired by the R.T. Davis Milling Company (1890) to represent ‘Aunt Jemima. The brand was conceived after being mentioned in a minstrel show song performed by Billy Kersands-an African-American comedian and dancer, entitled Old Aunt Jemima (1875).

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With executives of the company looking for a Mammy caricature to publicly advertise their brand, the company hired Green; after her successful showing at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exhibition.  A recent depiction of ‘Aunt Jemima’ has been transformed from the Mammy archetype, into a more befitting image of a Black woman.

Nancy Green, a former slave, served as the original model for Aunt Jemima

Nancy Green, a former slave, served as the original model for Aunt Jemima.

Portrait of Nancy Green as “Aunt Jemima” by A. B. Frost

” Nancy Green (November 17, 1834 – September 23, 1923) was a storyteller, cook, activist, and one of the first African-American models hired to promote a corporate trademark as “Aunt Jemima.  Green was born into slavery on March 4, 1834 in Montgomery County, Kentucky. She was hired in 1890[2] by the R.T. Davis Milling Company in St. Joseph, Missouri, to represent “Aunt Jemima”, an advertising person named after a song from a minstrel show.[1] Davis Milling had recently acquired the formula to a ready-mixed, self-rising pancake flour from St. Joseph Gazette editor Chris L. Rutt and Charles Underwood and were looking to employ an African-American woman as a Mammy archetype to promote their new product.[3] In 1893 Green was introduced as Aunt Jemima at the World’s Columbian Exposition held in Chicago, where it was her job to operate a pancake-cooking display. Her amicable personality and talent as a cook helped establish a successful showing of the product, for which she received a medal and certificate from the Expo officials.[1] After the Expo, Green was offered a lifetime contract to adopt the Aunt Jemima moniker and promote the pancake mix. This marked the beginning of a major promotional push by the company that included thousands of personal appearances and Aunt Jemima merchandising. Nancy Green maintained her job with Davis Milling (which was renamed Aunt Jemima Mills Company in 1914)[4] until 1923, when she died”” –

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Aunt Jemima at 1893 Expo-Ladies Home Journal

Aunt Jemima at 1893 Expo-Ladies Home Journal

 

NANCY GREEN

NANCY GREEN

As with food advertisement, the Mammy caricature also appeared in numerous cartoons throughout the 1940’s; the most recognizable figure was that of ‘Mammy Two Shoes’, in the Tom and Jerry Cartoon series.

 

First appearing on Feb 10, 1940 in the Puss Gets the Boot episode, ‘Mammy Two Shoes’ was voiced by Lillian Randolph and had a high pitched, Black southern colloquial dialect. Randolph, who also had earlier roles on The Beulah Show, was said to have been chosen because the show’s producers were searching for someone to voice a character similar to that of Hattie McDaniel’s ‘Mammy’ from GWTW. ‘Mammy Two Shoes’ appeared within the series for twelve years and was later redrawn into a thinly framed white woman; the face of ‘Mammy Two Shoes’ was never shown except briefly in the ending credits of one episode.

The Mammy archetype has long existed within our history and has provided opportunities for Black actresses to pursue entertainment careers. Although many of their careers were limited, and the Mammy archetype was derived from insensitive cultural understanding during the post-slavery era, many Black actresses still face the challenges of being casted into subservient roles today. We as a culture have not entirely moved away from our obsession with the Mammy archetype, as recently seen with The Help (2009).

The Help. "An aspiring author during the civil rights movement of the 1960s decides to write a book detailing the African-American maids' point of view on the white families for which they work, and the hardships they go through on a daily basis."

The Help. “An aspiring author during the civil rights movement of the 1960s decides to write a book detailing the African-American maids’ point of view on the white families for which they work, and the hardships they go through on a daily basis.”

the-help-movie-poster

http://newsone.com/1456115/the-help-maids-in-america/

http://newsone.com/1456115/the-help-maids-in-america/

“The story of domestic workers in the 1960s that fuels the newly released movie The Help is still happening today, organizers say. Maids, nannies and housekeepers are expected to work long hours and sometimes be available around-the-clock, and for little pay. Some are subject to sexual and other forms of abuse. They can be let go with no notice or even a “thank you.”

The big difference is that while the movie is set in the racially segregated South of years past and focuses on the plight of African-Americans, many of today’s domestic workers are from other countries. Some have many years of education in their backgrounds, but when they come to the United States, the only work they can find is domestic. And they are organizing.

In addition to the challenges of seeking acceptable roles, actors and actresses, must battle the challenges of colorism, sexual exploitation, and a lack of desire within Hollywood, to create educational, historical, and accurate portrayals of Black culture. This paper is in no way to serve as an all-encompassing examination of the Mammy archetype, as there are hundreds of historical Black actresses who have played the role of the Mammy. But this paper does serve as a foundation for its readers to conduct further research on such a fascinating topic and pivotal aspect of (Black) American entertainment and historical culture.

Mammy_1941_(M41-N-1)_large1920sc_Lux_Soap_Ad_01TNDixons_Stove_Polish_AdTNLuzianne_CoffeeTN

Other Notable Actresses include:

Virginia Capers in Big JakeVirginia Capers- Big Jake

 Eliza Virginia Capers (September 22, 1925 – May 6, 2004) was an American actressBorn in Sumter, South Carolina, Capers attended Howard University and studied voice at the Juilliard School in New York City. She made her Broadway debut in Jamaica in 1957 as the understudy for Adelaide Hall in the role of Grandma Obeah and took over the role when Hall left the show. Capers went on to appear in Saratoga and Raisin,[ for which she won the Tony for Best Actress in a Musical. –

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Dead Reckoning (1947) directed by John Cromwell shown: Ruby DandridgeRuby Dandridge (Mother of Dorothy Dandridge) – The Beulah Show

Ruby Dandridge (March 3, 1900 – October 17, 1987) was an American actress from the early 1900s to the 1950s. She is best known for her radio work in her early days of acting. On September 30, 1919, she married Cyril Dandridge. She moved with her husband to Cleveland, Ohio, where her daughter, actress Vivian Dandridge (1921–1991) was born. A second daughter, Academy Award-nominated actress Dorothy Dandridge, was born there the following year, in 1922, five months after Ruby and Cyril divorced. It is noted that after her divorce, Ruby Dandridge became involved with her companion Geneva Williams, who reportedly overworked the children and punished them harshly. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 Estelle EvansEstelle Evans (Sister of Ester Rolle) – To Kill a Mockingbird.

Estelle Evans (October 1, 1906 – July 20, 1985) was a Bahamian-born American actress. She was born in Rolle Town in the Bahamas. After playing Calpurnia in the 1962 version of To Kill a Mockingbird she went on act in several other movies and television shows until her death in 1985. She was the sister of actresses Esther Rolle and Rosanna Carter. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

All-American Co-Ed 1941Lillian Randolph – All-American Co-Ed (1941)  and The Beulah Show.

Lillian Randolph (December 14, 1898 – September 12, 1980) was an American actress and singer, a veteran of radio, film, and television. She worked in entertainment from the 1930s well into the 1970s, appearing in hundreds of radio shows, motion pictures, short subjects, and television shows. Like her sister, Amanda, Lillian was also one of the actresses to play the part of Beulah on radio. Lillian assumed the role in 1952 when Hattie McDaniel became ill; that same year, she received an “Angel” award from the Caballeros, an African-American businessmen’s association, for her work in radio and television for 1951. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Harris Theresa Harris – Hold Your Man (1932)”Actress Theresa Harris once shared with a reporter that her “greatest ambition was to be known someday as a great Negro actress.  She briefly pursued a career in theatre, gaining her most acclaimed role as the title character in the Lafayette Player’s musical production of Irene.  In 1933, she received her first credited film role as a domestic in the drama Baby Face and subsequently became one of RKO’s most visible stock players. Although routinely donned in apron and head wrap, Harris refused to comply with the mammy stereotype and parlayed her dignified style in a plethora of Hollywood’s most classic films. Under RKO, Harris later graduated to glamorous film roles, semi-frequently showcasing her vocal abilities in solo segments. Recognition as one of the industry’s leading African American actresses followed rave reviews of  her role as comedian Eddie “Rochester” Anderson’s costar in Buck Benny Rides Again (1940), which earned Harris a two-year, multi-picture contract with Paramount Studios.”

563796_569034779776210_354989531_nAmanda Randolph – The Laytons

” (September 2, 1896 – August 24, 1967) was an American actress and singer. A native of Louisville, Kentucky, she was the older sister of actress Lillian Randolph.She was the first African-American performer to star in a regularly scheduled network television show, appearing in DuMont’s The Laytons. This short-lived program was on the air two months in 1948.”From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

ethelwaters1939Ethel Waters – Member of the Wedding.

Ethel Waters (October 31, 1896 – September 1, 1977) was an African American blues, jazz and gospel vocalist and actress. She frequently performed jazz, big band, and pop music, on the Broadway stage and in concerts, although she began her career in the 1920s singing blues.  She was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award in 1949 for the film Pinky. In 1950, she won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for her performance opposite Julie Harris in the play The Member of the Wedding. Waters and Harris repeated their roles in the 1952 film version of Member of the Wedding In 1950, Waters starred in the television series Beulah but quit after complaining that the scripts’ portrayal of blacks was “degrading.”

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ethel Waters sings Eyes On The Sparrow. Song from the 1952 movie “The Member of the Wedding” With Ethel Waters as Bernice Sadie Brown; Julie Harris as Frankie Addams; and Brandon De Wilde as John Henry.”

This ad depicts a turning point in media history on November 24, 1947, the first instance of an African American woman starring in a network radio program, with ad copy noting that she is "queen of the kitchen" and "manages a household."

This ad depicts a turning point in media history on November 24, 1947, the first instance of an African American woman starring in a network radio program, with ad copy noting that she is “queen of the kitchen” and “manages a household.”

*****
~Newer roles for the Maid~
For Love of Ivy
ABBEY LINCOLN 
 For Love of Ivy (1968) More at IMDbPro »   ad feedback  A white family has had the same black maid for many years. When she tells them she wants to go back to school and will be leaving soon, the 20ish year old son decides what she needs is a change and begins searching for a man to wine her, dine her, but who won't marry her thinking that this will turn her aside from her plans. The man he finds doesn't entirely cooperate. Written by John Vogel


For Love of Ivy (1968) More at IMDbPro »
ad feedback
A white family has had the same black maid for many years. When she tells them she wants to go back to school and will be leaving soon, the 20ish year old son decides what she needs is a change and begins searching for a man to wine her, dine her, but who won’t marry her thinking that this will turn her aside from her plans. The man he finds doesn’t entirely cooperate. Written by John Vogel jlvogel@comcast.net

 
"For Love of Ivy is a 1968 romantic comedy film directed by Daniel Mann. The film stars Sidney Poitier, Abbey Lincoln, Beau Bridges, Nan Martin, Lauri Peters and Carroll O'Connor. The story was written by Sidney Poitier with screenwriter Robert Alan Arthur. The musical score was composed by Quincy Jones. The theme song "For Love of Ivy", written by Quincy Jones and Bob Russell, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song. The film received Golden Globe supporting acting nominations for Beau Bridges and Abbey Lincoln."

“For Love of Ivy is a 1968 romantic comedy film directed by Daniel Mann. The film stars Sidney Poitier, Abbey Lincoln, Beau Bridges, Nan Martin, Lauri Peters and Carroll O’Connor. The story was written by Sidney Poitier with screenwriter Robert Alan Arthur. The musical score was composed by Quincy Jones. The theme song “For Love of Ivy”, written by Quincy Jones and Bob Russell, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song. The film received Golden Globe supporting acting nominations for Beau Bridges and Abbey Lincoln.”

 
Gimmie a Break
NEIL CARTER 
"Gimme a Break! is an American sitcom which aired on NBC from October 29, 1981, until May 12, 1987. The series stars Nell Carter as the housekeeper for a widowed police chief (Dolph Sweet) and his three daughters."

“Gimme a Break! is an American sitcom which aired on NBC from October 29, 1981, until May 12, 1987. The series stars Nell Carter as the housekeeper for a widowed police chief (Dolph Sweet) and his three daughters.”

 
"Nell Carter had a stormy relationship with Gimme a Break!'s original producers Coleman Mitchell and Geoffrey Neigher, which involved personality conflicts and creative differences.[citation needed] The uneasy interaction heightened as the show's success grew heavily in the early seasons, so much that Mitchell and Neigher were dismissed from the show at the behest of Carter just prior to the start of the 1983–84 season. Mort Lachman, the show's co-creator, was retained as co-producer (he would serve in this role for all six seasons). NBC then hired the veteran team of Rod Parker and Hal Cooper to take over as executive producers, following their stint at the recently canceled Love, Sidney. Carter found that she saw eye to eye more often with Parker and Cooper on all levels, and due to the stability the latter team would stay with the program for the rest of its run."

“Nell Carter had a stormy relationship with Gimme a Break!’s original producers Coleman Mitchell and Geoffrey Neigher, which involved personality conflicts and creative differences.[citation needed] The uneasy interaction heightened as the show’s success grew heavily in the early seasons, so much that Mitchell and Neigher were dismissed from the show at the behest of Carter just prior to the start of the 1983–84 season. Mort Lachman, the show’s co-creator, was retained as co-producer (he would serve in this role for all six seasons). NBC then hired the veteran team of Rod Parker and Hal Cooper to take over as executive producers, following their stint at the recently canceled Love, Sidney. Carter found that she saw eye to eye more often with Parker and Cooper on all levels, and due to the stability the latter team would stay with the program for the rest of its run.”

 
The Jeffersons
 MARLA GIBBS
"She got the role of Florence Johnston on "The Jeffersons" (1975), because her agent wrote a letter to the Hollywood Reporter. Played the same character, Florence Johnston, on two different series: "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" (1990) and "House of Payne" (2006).  Mary Jenkins, her character from "227" (1985), was based on her Florence Johnston character from "The Jeffersons" (1975)."

“She got the role of Florence Johnston on “The Jeffersons” (1975), because her agent wrote a letter to the Hollywood Reporter.
Played the same character, Florence Johnston, on two different series: “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” (1990) and “House of Payne” (2006). Mary Jenkins, her character from “227” (1985), was based on her Florence Johnston character from “The Jeffersons” (1975).”

Gibbs perfromed for 11 seasons as Florence, The Jeffersons' back-talking maid,

Gibbs perfromed for 11 seasons as Florence, The Jeffersons’ back-talking maid,

 
Sanaa Lathan "By the Way, Meet Vera Stark." "Meet Vera Stark: Domestic Ambiguity in Hollywood Lynn Nottage's latest play tackles the hypocrisy and stereotyping that engulfs the black actress playing a maid in American film." http://www.theroot.com/views/meet-vera-stark-domestic-ambiguity-hollywood

Sanaa Lathan “By the Way, Meet Vera Stark.”
“Meet Vera Stark: Domestic Ambiguity in Hollywood
Lynn Nottage’s latest play tackles the hypocrisy and stereotyping that engulfs the black actress playing a maid in American film.”
http://www.theroot.com/views/meet-vera-stark-domestic-ambiguity-hollywood

 ~*****~
Film and Television Characters that have the occupation of maid.
Claudia McNeil – A Raisin in the Sun (1961)
Diahann CarrollClaudine (1974)
Esther Rolle – Good Times (February 8, 1974 (1974-02-08) – August 1, 1979
Oprah WinfreyThe Color Purple (1985)
Whoopi GoldbergCorinna, Corrina (1994)
Viola Davis – The Help
Octavia Spencer – The Help
Cicely Tyson – The Help
~*****~
 
 
Aunt_Jemima_logo 
nancy-green-aunt-jemima-biography-i14 
 
“Aunt Jemima is a brand of pancake mix, syrup, and other breakfast foods currently owned by the Quaker Oats Company of Chicago. The trademark dates to 1893, although Aunt Jemima pancake mix debuted in 1889. The Quaker Oats Company first registered the Aunt Jemima trademark in April 1937.[1] Aunt Jemima originally came from a minstrel show as one of their pantheon of stereotypical African American characters. Aunt Jemima appears to have been a postbellum addition to that cast” –
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
AuntJemima (1893)

Aunt Jemima (1893)

auntjemimaad

"Jemima" character on 1899 cakewalk sheet music cover.

“Jemima” character on 1899 cakewalk sheet music cover.

 
“In 1926, The Quaker Oats Company purchased the brand, and finally hired Anna Robinson to be the next Aunt Jemima®, playing her as part of the promotion at The Chicago World’s Fair, in 1933. The brand’s first slogan (launched at The World’s Fair) carried the mammy archetype further, being, “I’se in Town, Honey!””
 
aunt-jemima-racist-ads-590x332
 
auntjemima old ad
 
“For two more decades, the stereotype continued, with its advertising; and ‘live Aunts’ being blues singer, Edith Wilson, actress Ethel Ernestine Harper, Quaker employee, Rosie Hall and actress, Aylene Lewis, who was the last Aunt, playing her until the 1960s.”
 
aunt-jemima actresses
 
jemima1127
mademama1holiday-heartblack-men-in-drag-350
~Media Depictions of the Mammy Archetype~

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