Classic Entertainment Autographs

Cat. #0015042: RICHARD B. HARRISON

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Extremely rare vintage 8x10-inch black and white portrait as De Lawd in "Green Pastures" (1930-1935), his most beloved role, boldly signed and inscribed in black fountain pen in the 1930s. A chip to the upper right-hand corner area and light border wear; otherwise, in good condition and superb for display. Richard B. Harrison was one of the leading African-American dramatic stage actors of the Twentieth Century. The eldest of six children of a couple who escaped slavery via the Underground Railroad, Harrison worked his way through acting school doing menial work as a newsboy, handyman, janitor, waiter, busboy, and bellhop, then developed a program of dramatic readings from Shakespeare and other American and English poets which allowed him to travel all across North America. He also taught theater arts at North Carolina A. & T. College in North Carolina. From 1930s through 1935, the year of his death of a heart ailment, he was unforgettable as De Lawd in Marc Connelly's Pulitzer Prize-winning play "The Green Pastures", which ran for 1,657 performances between 1930 through 1935, the year he died of a heart ailment. He portrayed the character as a country preacher, with a frock coat, stiff collar, and floppy hat, and it brought him fame at the age of sixty-five. The N.A.A.C.P., which had opposed him taking role, as it seemed to them to be demeaning to Blacks, ultimately awarded him their highest honor, the Spingarn Award, in 1931, in recognition of his work. Time Magazine had him on the cover of their March 4, 1935 issue. This is the only example of his autograph we have ever encountered.