Classic Entertainment Autographs

Cat. #00564224: FREDI WASHINGTON

Exceedingly scarce early inscribed black fountain pen signature on a 4x6-inch tan autograph album page, dated February, 1939, in New York City. The only 1930s example we have ever encountered! Gently folded down the center and slightly trimmed along the bottom edge; otherwise, in fine condition for its age. Beautiful, pioneering African-American actress Fredi Washington's fair skin and green eyes made her the ideal Peola in 1934's controversial classic Imitation of Life. For other films, most notably The Emperor Jones (1933) with Paul Robeson, she was forced by studio executives to wear make-up to darken her skin.  When she began to resent it and decided to try her hand on the Broadway stage, she was told that she didn't "look Black enough" to compete with stars like Josephine Baker, Nina Mae McKinney and Ethel Waters.  Abandoning acting, she devoted her energy to activism, heading the Negro Actors Guild and helping fellow African-American performers get a fair chance in the entertainment industry.