Stealing the Show: African American Performers and Audiences in 1930s Hollywood
Stealing the Show is a study of African American actors in Hollywood during the 1930s, a decade that saw the consolidation of stardom as a potent cultural and industrial force. Petty focuses on five performers whose Hollywood film careers flourished during this period—Louise Beavers, Fredi Washington, Lincoln “Stepin Fetchit” Perry, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, and Hattie McDaniel—to reveal the “problematic stardom” and the enduring, interdependent patterns of performance and spectatorship for performers and audiences of color. She maps how these actors—though regularly cast in stereotyped and marginalized roles—employed various strategies of cinematic and extracinematic performance to negotiate their complex positions in Hollywood and to ultimately “steal the show.” Drawing on a variety of source materials, Petty explores these stars’ reception among Black audiences and theorizes African American viewership in the early twentieth century. Her book is an important and welcome contribution to the literature on the movies.
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actress African American audiences African American children African American newspapers African American performers Afro-American Angeles appeared assertion Atlanta Baldwin Beavers and Washington Beavers’s Bill Bojangles Bill Robinson Black actors Black audiences Black children Black performers Black women Brown cartoon cast Chicago Defender cinematic colored cultural dancer discourse figure film’s Fox’s Fredi Washington gender girl Gone GWTW Harlem Hattie McDaniel Hollywood Hollywood films Ibid Imitation Imitation’s LeGon light skin Lincoln Perry Louise Beavers mainstream Mammy mammy monument Mammy’s Melanie mother Motion Picture moviegoers National Negro onscreen Palmer’s pantomime Paul Robeson Perry’s Philadelphia Tribune Pittsburgh Courier play popular potential race racial role Scarlett scene screen segregated Selznick Shirley Temple shoat significant slave slavery southern star persona stardom stealing the show Stepin Fetchit stereotype story style Tales of Manhattan talkies Temple’s theaters tion University Press viewers visual Waller Watkins Wind woman York Amsterdam