Stealing the Show: African American Performers and Audiences in 1930s Hollywood



Dr. Miriam Petty, Assistant Professor in Northwestern University’s School of Communication, Department of Radio/Television/Film, talked to a capacity crowd at the Levy Senior Center on June 13 as part of the Levy Lecture Series.

Dr. Petty spoke about her book, “Stealing the Show: African American Performers and Audiences in 1930s Hollywood,” which explores the complex relationships between black audiences and black performers in the classical Hollywood era.

The Levy Lectures, sponsored by the Levy Senior Center Foundation, are free and open to the public. The next Levy Lecture is scheduled for Sept. 12.

This article originally appeared on the Evanston Roundtable site.

Lecture Description

Dr. Miriam Petty will discuss her first book, Stealing the Show: AfricanAmerican Performers and Audiences in 1930s Hollywood, exploring the complex relationships between black audiences and black performers in the classical Hollywood era.

Dr. Petty focuses on five performers whose careers flourished during this period—Louise Beavers, Fredi Washington,Lincoln “Stepin Fetchit” Perry, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson and HattieMcDaniel—and will show us how these actors, despite being routinely cast in stereotypical roles, managed to negotiate their complex positions in Hollywood and to ultimately “steal the show.”

In addition to showing film clips, Dr. Petty will discuss how their work is still relevant today.


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