Once upon a time, boys played the women’s roles in Shakespeare’s plays. Once upon a different time, Al Jolson and Eddie Cantor performed in blackface to great acclaim, and some brilliant black performers had to hide behind blackface to be accepted by white audiences. (African-American comedian-mime-singer Bert Williams, 1874-1922, once said, "A black face, run-down shoes and elbow-out make-up give me a place to hide. The real Bert Williams is crouched deep down inside the coon who sings the songs and tells the stories.") As recently as 1990, white actors played Othello with darkened skin.
|African-American singer-comedian |
Bert Williams in blackface