By Jessie Carney Smith
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Additional info for Black Firsts: 4,000 Ground-Breaking and Pioneering Historical Events
1927– ) singer, actor, and civil rights crusader, was the first black to have an hour-long special on television. Born in New 17 Arts & Entertainment > Drama, Dramatists, and Theater York City, he lived in Jamaica from 1935 to 1940. He received a Tony Award in 1954 for a supporting role in John Murray Anderson’s Almanac. In 1966 Belafonte was the first black to produce a major show for television. During President John F. Kennedy’s administration, he became the first cultural advisor to the Peace Corps.
1891 • The Creole Show, an all-black production in New York City with a white promoter, John Isham, was the first minstrel show to introduce black women into the cast. In the finale Dora Dean and Charles Johnson introduced the first theatrical cake-walk, derived from the old plantation chalk-line walk. It also is one of the first shows in which black performers did not wear black face. Sources: Emery, Black Dance, pp. 207–09; Johnson, Black Manhattan, pp. 95–96; Thorpe, Black Dance, pp. 28–29, 53.
Hearts in Dixie was also the first black-oriented all-talking, all-singing film from a major company. Sources: Bergman, The Chronological History of the Negro in America, p. 447; Kane, Famous First Facts, p. 401; Klotman, Frame by Frame, pp. 217–18, 227; Southern, The Music of Black Americans, pp. 436–437. 1929 • Nina Mae McKinney (1912–1967) was cast in the starring role as Chick in King Vidor’s film Hallelujah—the first all-black musical—and in March became the first “black temptress” in talking pictures.