Faces of Our History: Louise Beavers

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Louise Beavers

Louise Beavers was born to Ernestine and William M. Beavers on March 8, 1902 in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Louise’s mother was a teacher and worked as a voice coach. Louise learned how to sing for concerts from her mother. Louise attended Pasadena High School where she engaged in several after school activities. After graduation in June 1920, she got a job working as a dressing room attendant. She also was the personal made to a white film start named Leatrice Joy.

It is uncertain how her acting career started but due to the lack of roles for African Americans, her role choices we slim. Most of her roles were playing the character of “mammy”. Louise’s role as Julia in the movie “Coquette” which starred a known actress by the name of Mary Pickford. Her role was a maid who was the mother figure to a white woman.

In 1934, she landed the role of Delilah in “Imitation of Life”. This role was much more than what standard roles for black people in that time. Her character was a secondary parallel plot. This role made people pay attention to the unfair practices of Hollywood actor/actress of color to their racial counterparts. Although, her performance was praised she was not recognized by the Academy solely based on her skin color.

As Louise became more famous, she spoke about the unfair practices and limited portrayal of African Americans in the film industry. She endorsed and support those who wanted to right for civil rights of African Americans.

Louise died following a heart attack on October 26, 1962 at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Los Angeles.

In 1976, Louise was inducted into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame.

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