BRIGHT BOULEVARDS, BOLD DREAMS: The Story of Black Hollywood

Donald Bogle, Author . One World $26.95 (432p) ISBN 978-0-345-45418-8

Bogle, whose previous works (Primetime Blues , etc.) have focused primarily on the "screen images" of blacks, now explores "what happened just before the cameras rolled—or once the performers left the studio to go home... how people lived and socialized." Starting with Madame Sul-Te-Wan's work in D.W. Griffith's 1915 The Birth of a Nation and ending with the 1960s deaths of Louise Beavers, Nat "King" Cole and Dorothy Dandridge, Bogle tells the stories of the stars of Black Hollywood: their outfits, their love affairs and their struggles for better roles. Initially, his coverage is encyclopedic—he includes the black independent studios, the work of Black Hollywood architect Paul Williams, stories of the wives of major black stars, Black Hollywood's residential shifts—but gossip about the big personalities (Sammy Davis Jr., Lena Horne, etc.) gradually overwhelms the narrative. Some important black actors, like Paul Robeson and Canada Lee, are barely mentioned, as if their politics made them less dishy. And while the hundred photos Bogle includes are wonderful, a single map of Black Hollywood would've made the discussions of changes in residential segregation much more meaningful. Still, Bogle's lively style (the Sugar Hill neighborhood wasn't quite Hollywood Hills, but it wasn't "chopped liver either") and his many anecdotes will entertain and inform film students and black history buffs alike. Agent, Marie Brown. (On sale Jan. 25)

Reviewed on: 11/29/2004
Release date: 01/01/2005
Paperback - 411 pages - 978-0-345-45419-5
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