Broadway Black, Hollywood White

Todd Decker

in Show Boat

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199759378
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199979554 | DOI:

Series: Broadway Legacies

                      Broadway Black, Hollywood White

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This chapter considers Show Boat in the post-World War II era by way of the 1946 Broadway revival and two film versions made by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in Hollywood (extended excerpts in Till the Clouds Roll By and the 1951 Technicolor version). The Broadway production remade two black dance numbers by featuring black concert dancers Pearl Primus and LaVerne French. These changes benefitted the careers of a generation of black dancers, including Alvin Ailey. MGM underemphasized the show's black content, using “Ol' Man River” to feature Frank Sinatra and reshaping the role of Julie around screen goddess Ava Gardner. The 1951 film remains the most drastic revision of the show, truncating its historical reach and eliminating black performance as a central element of the story.

Keywords: Helen Tamiris; Pearl Primus; Alvin Ailey; Ava Gardner; Frank Sinatra; Lena Horne; Howard Keel; Till the Clouds Roll By; masculinity; Disneyland; Jones Beach

Chapter.  13380 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: American Music ; Popular Music

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