Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Remembering Actress Sheila Guyse July 14, 1925 - December 28, 2014

I first learned about Sheila Guyse maybe six years ago. A rainy day, hanging at home with my mother who was in her 80's at the time. I had bought her a laptop and my mother always the modern woman was "on the net" looking for some movies from her time. Finally she stumbled on some sort of archive site that had a lot of old "Race Movies" movies that were distributed specifically for negro audiences in the United States Of America. We saw Halleijuah starring Nina Mae Mckinney a couple of shorts that showed, Mamie Smith, some all girl band from the late 30s that I cant remember and then " Oh Boy What A Girl" a hilrious movie that starred Tim Moore who plays a male in a vaudevile troupe who gets duped into dressing up as a woman and becoming a rich lady who is going to invest in a Broadway show. What a movie Miss. Guyse played the daughter of one of the investors daughters in this screwball comedy that to me dispelled any myths that all race movies were inferior to the usual Hollywood fare I had been weened on. Miss Guyse was an Apollo Theater amateur contest winner and subsequently landed a small role on Broadway in the musical " Memphis Bound" then made the subsequent movies Oh Boy what a girl (1947) starring Time Moore, Sepia Cinderella which also co starred Tondayleo Levy!(1948) Broadway show "Finians Rainbow (1947) Lost in the stars (1948) Former husbands were Shelby Miler ( a tailor) and Kenneth Davis which lasted eight years. Mr Davis was a white man and she appered on the cover of pocket magazine "jet" with him in 1952 he was a ballet dancer and the cover of jet proclaimed ": Negro women with white husbands" she was very proud of this marriage and gave a supberb and intelligent intervie. I cant say it endered her to African American women at that time tho. Remmeber during this time LenaHornes husband was the white band leader Lennie Hayton, Pearl Bailey married the white drummer Louis Bellson, and Josephine Baker was married to a white parisian. Due to health complications ( she had surgery for bleeding ulcers) and a religious conversion to Jeahovahs Wittness she left show business but lived to the ripe age of 88. This is one blogger who will miss her. I always remember my mother explaining to me the importance of these "race" stars. These were the women little black girls had to look up to. They admired their hair, their make up, their clothes and most of all remember these actresses looked like them!
The following id from the New York Times: Sheila Guyse, a popular actress and singer who appeared on Broadway and in so-called race movies in the 1940s and ’50s, and who for a time, despite limited opportunities in the entertainment industry, appeared headed for broader fame, died on Dec. 28 in Honolulu. She was 88. The cause was complications of Alzheimer’s disease, her daughter Sheila Crystal Devin said. For several years, Ms. Guyse (rhymes with “nice”) was compared to stars like Dorothy Dandridge, Lena Horne and Ruby Dee, black actresses who broke through racial barriers. But by the late 1950s she was out of show business, a result of some combination of health problems, a religious conversion and family obligations. She left behind a handful of films. The best is probably “Sepia Cinderella” (1947), in which she played a girl-next-door who is initially overlooked by the musician she loves, played by the singer Billy Daniels. She also appeared in Broadway musicals and in nightclubs. Her only album, “This Is Sheila,” a collection of standards released by MGM Records in 1958, a decade after her heyday, was supposed to be a comeback. That November, Jet magazine put her on its cover. Photo Sheila Guyse “Sheila Guyse, a glamorous, high-octane performer under supper club spotlights,” the article said, “is a singer who has had to overcome serious illness, marriage failures, financial pressures and professional disappointments in her long campaign to create a career in show business.” The article quoted Ms. Guyse as saying, “I was discouraged and depressed for a while, but now life looks a lot better to me,” and mentioned a five-year recording contract. But the comeback never happened. Ms. Guyse, who had surgery for bleeding ulcers in the mid-1950s, continued to have health problems. Ms. Devin, her daughter, recalled once finding her collapsed in her bedroom, bleeding from the mouth. In addition, Ms. Guyse’s husband did not want her to have a career, Ms. Devin said. Ms. Guyse’s first two marriages had ended in divorce, and she was a struggling single mother when she met Joseph Jackson, a New York sanitation worker so enthralled by her that he would sometimes follow her in his garbage truck. After they married, in the late 1950s, Ms. Guyse stopped performing and became increasingly involved with a Jehovah’s Witness hall in Queens. “It wasn’t easy to be a glamorous movie star with people following you for your autograph and now you’re home making pancakes,” Ms. Devin said. “She did it, but I don’t think it was easy.” Etta Drucille Guyse was born on July 14, 1925, in Forest, Miss. She took Sheila as a stage name. She followed her father, Wilbert, to New York when she was a teenager and, her daughter said, lived for a time in a Harlem rooming house with Billie Holiday. After winning an amateur contest at the Apollo Theater, Ms. Guyse had a small role on Broadway in the musical “Memphis Bound!” and appeared in a series of all-black films, beginning with a small role in “Boy! What a Girl!” (1947), which starred the vaudeville performer Tim Moore. She moved on to starring roles in “Sepia Cinderella” and “Miracle in Harlem” (1948), in which she played a woman wrongly accused of murder. Continue reading the main storyContinue reading the main storyContinue reading the main storyContinue reading the main story Advertisement She also appeared in the Broadway musicals “Finian’s Rainbow” (1947) and “Lost in the Stars” (1949). In addition to Ms. Devin, who has worked as a model and actress under the name Sheila Anderson, Ms. Guyse is survived by another daughter, Deidre Devin, from her marriage to Mr. Jackson; two grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren. A son, Michael Jackson, died a few years ago. Joseph Jackson died in 2012. Ms. Guyse moved back to Mississippi in the 1980s and to Hawaii about five years ago. Her first marriage, to Ms. Devin’s father, a tailor named Shelby Irving Miller, was very brief. Her second, to Kenneth Davis, whom she had met while both performed in “Finian’s Rainbow,” lasted eight years. Mr. Davis, who was white, became a dancer with American Ballet Theater. In 1952, a photograph of the couple appeared on a cover of Jet with the headline “Negro Women With White Husbands.”
“I don’t go about looking for difficulties,” Ms. Guyse said in the article. “It took me a long time to decide to marry Ken, but I’m glad I did. We’ve been very happy. Intelligence and understanding are needed to make a marriage like ours succeed. It takes more than love. You have to have a mind of your own and be able to ignore what the world is saying and thinking about you.”

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Written yet unrecorded song by Billie Holiday


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Obscure Artist Anna Robinson

Ive spent the better part of 5 years trying to find a picture of this woman. So far too no avail. She was just part of the 1930s jazz Harlem scene. How I found out  about her was researching Pianist Teddy Wilson who loved her singing way more than Billie Holiday who he had a successful musical relationship in the 1930s so I'd always check out biographies to try to find a picture of her but to no avail. I'd probably be disappointed she seems to have been just another character in a scene from long ago. But I finally found this small clipping so that's progress. http://www.allmusic.com/artist/anna-robinson-mn0000575783

Monday, February 24, 2014

Oh Hail The Queens

Black history month. I decided to just post pictures of the ladies in my life who I have either read about or listened to their  music way after they had left the earth. Personally for me my earliest recollection is hearing my mother sing songs around the house. Stormy Weather, Sentimental Journey I remember her singing in her clear alto voice. Later on somehow I got hooked on Billie Holiday the first song I think of hers I heard was "I can't pretend" even if it's not it's the one h that comes to mind when I think of Billie Holiday. Through my love of her songs I learned of Bessie Smith, Ethel Waters, Dinah Washington and a host of other African American singers from my mother's era.
     I still am a huge fan of female jazz vocalists and strangely my knowledge of them far succeds my knowledge of male singers. SO HERE'S TO THE BEAUTIFUL LADIES OF JAZZ

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Black Republicans Reconstruction era


Saturday, June 01, 2013

In The Closet...Interacial love children Part 1

Its amazing that people often only think of the closest as a place for gays or homosexuals but what about a few other closestul.s? Interacial love was so closeted at one time that a drop of negro blood was powerful stuff. Enough that the children were essentally deemed an embarrasment.... Essie Mae Washington-Williams, the lovechild of Senator Strom Thurmond and his former black maid, has passed away at age 87. Washington-Williams kept her father’s secret for 70 years. She revealed his identity after Thurmond died in 2003. The former South Carolina governor was a known segregationist and the longest serving senator in U.S. history. Essie Mae Washington-Williams was a retired educator who was raised by her mother, Carrie Butler, until Butler died at age 38. She was sent to her aunt and uncle, Mr. John and Mary Washington, in Coatesville, Pa. The young mixed-race child didn’t even know that her mother was Carrie Butler until the age of 13. She was later told that she was of mixed-race and that her white father was Strom Thurmond. Thurmond was in his 20’s when he became close to Carrie Butler, who was a young teenager, working as the household maid. Upon learning that his daughter knew of his identity, Thurmond met with Washington-Williams and sent her $200. Although her father’s identity was not publicly known, Thurmond continued to contribute to his daughter financially and met with her in secret over his lifetime. However, in 1948, the same year that Carrie Butler passed away, Strom Thurmond built his segregationist political platform, denouncing integration of the black and white community. Washington-Williams says that those who worked in the Thurmond home knew of her existence and family lineage. Even though Thurmond helped her with occasional finances, met with her at her HBCU, and sent a letter of recommendation for her son to attend medical school, he barely acknowledged a Father’s Day card.

Poor without a damn pot to even piss in!!!!!

They used to use urine to tan animal skins, so families used to all pee in a pot & then once a day it was taken & Sold to the tannery.......if you had to do this to survive you were "Piss Poor" But worse than that were the really poor folk who couldn't even afford to buy a pot......they "didn't have a pot to piss in" & were the lowest of the low The next time you are washing your hands and complain because the water temperature isn't just how you like it, think about how things used to be. Here are some facts about the 1500s: Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May, and they still smelled pretty good by June.. However, since they were starting to smell . ...... . Brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor. Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting Married. Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children. Last of all the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it.. Hence the saying, "Don't throw the baby out with the Bath water!" Houses had thatched roofs-thick straw-piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof... Hence the saying "It's raining cats and dogs." There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house. This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could mess up your nice clean bed. Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection. That's how canopy beds came into existence. The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt. Hence the saying, "Dirt poor." The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on, they added more thresh until, when you opened the door, it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entrance-way. Hence: a thresh hold. In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire.. Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while. Hence the rhyme: Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old. Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special. When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show off. It was a sign of wealth that a man could, "bring home the bacon." They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around and chew the fat. Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing lead poisoning death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous. Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or the upper crust. Lead cups were used to drink ale or whisky. The combination would Sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial.. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up. Hence the custom of holding a wake. England is old and small and the local folks started running out of places to bury people. So they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a bone-house, and reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had been burying people alive... So they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (the graveyard shift.) to listen for the bell; thus, someone could be, saved by the bell or was considered a dead ringer. And that's the truth....Now, whoever said History was boring

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