Today, TCM kicks off their “Summer Under the Stars” series, which spotlights one actor’s work daily. In response, we launch our companion series, Summer Madness. The series will spotlight the achievements and films of one Black actor, daily throughout the month of August.
Paul Leroy Robeson (April 9, 1898 – January 23, 1976) a bass singer and actor who became involved with the Civil Rights Movement. At Rutgers College, he was an outstanding American football player, and then had an international career in singing, with a distinctive, powerful, deep bass voice, as well as acting in theater and movies. At Columbia, he sang and acted in off-campus productions; and, after graduating, he became a participant in the Harlem Renaissance with performances in The Emperor Jones and All God’s Chillun Got Wings.
Robeson initiated his international artistic résumé with a theatrical role in Great Britain, settling in London for the next several years with his wife Essie. Robeson next appeared as Othello at the Savoy Theatre before becoming an international cinema star through roles in Show Boat and Sanders of the River. During World War II, he supported America’s war efforts and won accolades for his portrayal of Othello on Broadway. He moved to Harlem and published a periodical critical of United States policies.
He retired and he lived out the remaining years of his life privately in Philadelphia. #SummerMadness #Robeson
Body and Soul (’24)
The Emperor Jones (’33)
Sanders of the River (’35)
King Solomon’s Mines (’37)
Proud Valley (’40)