Each Guerrilla Girl On Tour! member takes the name of a dead woman artist so that the focus remains on fighting discrimination and racism. Being anonymous allows their own personalities as performing artists to become secondary as it serves to keep the spirit of the dead and their work alive.
They wear masks whenever they perform in public to conceal their true identities and choose those that most closely resemble their actual appearance.
- Aphra Behn
Aphra Behn (1640-89): was the first professional female English author. After the death of her husband she became an English spy in the Dutch Wars (1665-67), adopting the pseudonym Astrea, under which she later published much of her verse. By 1670 her first play had been performed, and by 1677 she gained her much desired fame with the eminently successful production of The Rover. All her plays are noted for their broad, bawdy humor.
Aphra Behn was famous for her life-style as well as her works; her denial of woman's subservience to man and her high-living, bohemian existence has led critics to describe her as the George Sand of the Restoration and a forerunner of the feminist movement.
"Love ceases to be a pleasure when it ceases to be a secret." - Aphra Behn
- Lili Boulanger
Lili Boulanger (1893-1918): was born in France. Lili and her older sister Nadia were the daughters of a French opera composer and a Russian singer. She began taking lessons in various aspects of music from Fauré, Caussade, Vidal, and Nadia Boulanger. Dogged by ill health for most of her life, she nevertheless composed prolifically. Boulanger seemed to realise that her life would be very short, and her music is almost always gripped by a grey, grave quality.
She compressed a three-year conservatory course into a year and a half of daily lessons in theory and counterpoint and in January of 1912 was admitted to the Paris Conservatoire. In 1913 Lili became the first woman to win the Prix de Rome with her cantata Faust et Hélène. Lili Boulanger died at the age of twenty-four, a victim of Crohn's Disease. At the time of her death she was working on an opera based on Maeterlinck's La princesse Maleine .
"A great work is made out of a combination of obedience and liberty." - Lili Boulanger
- Fanny Brice
Fanny Brice (1891-1951): Born on the Lower East Side of New York in 1891, the third of four children of immigrant saloon-owners, Fania Borach decided early in life to become a performer. Historian Barbara Grossman notes that in an era in which entertainment was typically based on ethnic stereotypes -the drunken Irishman, the ignorant Pole, the Yiddish-accented greenhorn - Brice's "Semitic looks" slotted her into Jewish roles. Despite her efforts to succeed as a serious actress and singer, Brice - who spoke no Yiddish - rose to stardom performing comedy with a Yiddish accent. Brice starred in the Ziegfield Follies in the 1920s and 1930s and became known for her beautiful voice and limber grace, which she always used in the service of humor. After a failed marriage to Broadway impresario Billy Rose and starring roles in Hollywood film, Brice found a niche -broadcast radio - that made her comfortable. In 1938, she launched her own weekly radio show.
A wonderful mimic and impersonator with a great ear for dialect, Brice chose instead to limit herself to one character, Baby Snooks, a precocious, bratty toddler - who had no accent. Her enormously successful run on radio lasted until her death in 1951, just as television was beginning to capture the radio audience.
"But whatever my man is, I am his - forever." - Fanny Brice
- Louise Brooks
Louise Brooks (1906 -1985): Between 1925 and 1938 Louise appeared in 24 films. During the late 1920's, the one-time Denishawn dancer and Ziegfeld girl inspired both the long running comic strip "Dixie Dugan," as well as the stage play "Show Girl." Brooks' career in Hollywood is overshadowed by what is certainly her best-known role, as "Lulu" in the classic German film, Pandora's Box (1929). Her keen intelligence, rebellious nature and self-destructive streak all contributed to her exile from Hollywood.
After years of obscurity and near poverty, a new Louise Brooks began to emerge - that of author. Throughout the 50's, 60's and '70's, her thoughtful essays appeared in magazines like Sight and Sound, and Focus on Film. In 1982, a bestselling and widely reviewed collection of her work appeared under the title Lulu in Hollywood.
"What is art but a close clinging to a bit of life that you have looked into most deeply?" - Louise Brooks
- Gracie Allen
Gracie Allen (1895-1964): the funny half of the Burns and Allen Comedy Team. Born in San Francisco into an Irish Catholic show business family, she began performing vaudeville in 1909 with her sister. She teamed up with George Burns in 1922 and married him in 1926. When they figured out Gracie was the laugh-getter and George was the straight man they became one of the most famous comedy teams of their time.
They had both popular radio and television shows. In 1940 Gracie was so popular she ran for President as the candidate for the Surprise Party. Gracie encouraged American's to take pride in their national debt as "it's the biggest in the world". Her platform included putting congress on commission, whenever the country prospered congress would get ten percent. Grace had a weak heart and was self conscious off stage, as a child she burned one arm, and she never wore sort sleeve. But in true Gracie style, she turned this into a fashion statement rather then a hindrance. Gracie never really admitted her age, even her husband professed not to know exactly when she was born. In 1964, after a long battle, her heart gave out. Gracie Allen proved women can be funny.
"When I was born I was so surprised I didn't talk for a year and a half." - Gracie Allen
- Josephine Baker
Josephine Baker (1906-1975): was born Freda Josephine McDonald on June 3rd 1906 in St. Louis, order Missouri. In 1919 Josephine began touring the US with the Jones Family Band and The Dixie Steppers. On stage, Baker was a huge success. Donning her comedic skills, she rolled her eyes and intentionally acted clumsy, exciting audiences.
On April 8, 1975 Josephine Baker starred at the Bobino Theater in Paris as their premiere act. Her reviews were some of her best ever. Unexpectedly, on April 12th, only days after her astonishing performance, she slipped into a coma and died from a cerebral hemorrhage. Thousands of crowds poured into Paris streets to watch her funeral procession. The French government honored her with a 21-gun salute, making Josephine Baker the first American woman buried with French military honors.
"I improvised, crazed by the music...Even my teeth and eyes burned with fever. Each time I leaped I seemed to touch the sky and when I regained earth it seemed to be mine alone" - Josephine Baker
- Lady Augusta Gregory
Lady Augusta Gregory (1852-1932): was born Isabella Augusta Persse in Roxborough House, near Loughrea, Co. Galway. At twenty-eight she married Sir W. H. Gregory, then a sixty-three year-old widower, former governor of Ceylon and Trustee of the National Gallery and MP for Galway, and who had been responsible for measures which compounded the misery suffered in the Great Famine (1846-1851).
Her husband died in 1892, and shortly afterwards, her first visit to Inisheer, one of the Aran Islands, inspired her to learn Irish and the Hiberno-English dialect of Kiltartan. She met W. B. Yeats in 1896, and commenced collecting folklore in Kiltartan region with him. She also established an Irish class at Coole schoolhouse. With Edward Martyn and Yeats, she founded the Irish Literary Theatre, 1899-1901, later the Abbey Theatre Company, of which she held the patent and which she directed with Yeats and J.M. Synge from 1904. Her first publication was Poets and Dreamers (1903), containing translations of Raftery, folk-tales, and translations of short plays by Douglas Hyde. Her first play was Twenty Five (Dublin, The Abbey, 1904). Altogether she wrote nineteen original plays and seven translations for the Abbey between 1904-1912.
"It's a good thing to be able to take up your money in your hand and to think no more of it when it slips away from you than you would of a trout that would slip back into the stream." - Lady Augusta Gregory
- Lorraine Hansberry
Lorraine Hansberry (1930-65): In 1959 she became the first black woman to have a play produced on Broadway when A Raisin in the Sun opened to wide critical acclaim. The play dealt in human terms with the serious and comic problems of a black family in modern America. Her next play, The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window (1964) was less successful. Hansberry died of cancer at 35. A collection of her writings, To Be Young, Gifted, and Black, was published in 1969.
"I want to reach a little closer to the world and see if we can share some illuminations together about each other." - Lorraine Hansberry
- Frances Harper
Frances Harper (1825-1911): Frances Harper was born to free parents in Baltimore, Maryland. Her first volume of verse, Forest Leaves, was published in 1845. Three years later, she joined the American Anti-Slavery Society and became a traveling lecturer for the group. She wrote the popular poem, Bury Me In a Free Land. In 1892, Frances was the first African American woman to publish a novel. It was called Iola Leroy and was about a rescued black slave and the Reconstructed South. Most of the earnings from her books went toward helping free the slaves. Although an extremely popular writer during her lifetime, Harper was not acclaimed by literary critics. Harper's communicative and intentionally popular style was dismissed as sentimental hackwork by African-American male critics and her message held in suspicion because her mixed-race protagonists were not sufficiently black.
In recent decades, however, black women and feminists in general have resurrected Harper's legacy. In 1992 African-American Unitarian Universalists honored her and commemorated the one-hundredth anniversary of Iola Leroy by installing a new headstone. Frances died nine years before women gained the right to vote.
I ask no monument, proud and high, To arrest the gaze of passers-by; All that my yearning spirit craves, Is bury me not in a land of slaves. - Bury Me In A Free Land, by Frances Harper
- Fanny Mendelssohn
Fanny Mendelssohn (1805-1847): Fanny Cécilie Mendelssohn's father, Abraham, was a prosperous banker. When Napoleon's troops occupied Hamburg in 1811, the Jewish family relocated to Berlin. There, in 1816, Fanny and her younger brother Felix were baptized as Lutherans. The two talented youngsters became highly accomplished composers and pianists but Abraham opposed a professional career as unsuitable for his daughter and Felix carried on this opposition after their father's death. Despite this Fanny wrote piano music, oratorios, and chamber music. In the mid-1840s she informed her brother that she intended to begin to publish her music and he apparently dropped his opposition. Her music never had its just debut during her lifetime and much of it remained unheard and unpublished. It was only in the late 1900s that recordings brought evidence of her exceptional gifts as a composer to the general pubic.
- Coco Channel
Coco Chanel (1883-1971): isn't just ahead of her time, she's ahead of herself. She couldn't afford the fashionable clothes of the period--so she rejected them and made her own, using the sports jackets and ties that were everyday male attire around the racetrack. Her fabulous career never recovered after she hooked up with a Nazi officer during the war. Chanel did not define herself as a feminist--in fact, she consistently spoke of femininity rather than of feminism-that is, until she became a Guerrilla Girl.
"Fashion is not simply a matter of clothes. Fashion is in the air, born upon the wind. One intuits it. It is in the sky and on the road." - Coco Channel
- Julia Child
Julia Child (1912-2004): was born in Pasadena, California and graduated from Smith College in 1934. After college, she worked in publicity and advertising in New York, and Washington, D.C. In 1948, her husband Paul Child was assigned to the U.S. Information Service at The American Embassy in Paris, and Julia enrolled in Le Cordon Bleu Cooking School. Julia and Paul eventually returned to the States, and after a television interview at WGBH-Boston, the station asked Julia to try out a series of TV cooking shows, and The French Chef was born on February 11, 1963.
She was awarded two national Emmy's: in 1995 for her "Master Chefs" series and in 1997 for "Baking with Julia." Mrs. Child was an active member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals, and a co-founder of the American Institute of Wine & Food.
"In department stores, so much kitchen equipment is bought indiscriminately by people who just come in for men's underwear." - Julia Child
- Alice Childress
Alice Childress (1920-1994): was born in Charleston, South Carolina, but went to live with her maternal grandmother in Harlem at age nine after her parents separated. Upon completing her education in the public schools of New York, she began a career in the theater as actor, director, and playwright. Her plays include Florence (1949), Wedding Band: A Love/Hate Story in Black and White (1972), Mojo: A Black Love Story (1970), and Moms: A Praise Play for a Black Comedienne (1987). Childress is also the author of a number of novels, among them Those Other People (1989) and A Hero Ain't Nothin' but a Sandwich (1973). She also wrote the screenplay for the 1978 film based on A Hero Ain't Nothin' but a Sandwich. She received numerous awards and honors for her writings, among them the first Paul Robeson Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Performing Arts.
"Each human is uniquely different.... I concentrate on portraying have-nots in a have society, those seldom singled out by mass media, except as source material for derogatory humor and/or condescending clinical, social analysis." - Alice Childress
- Cheryl Crawford
Cheryl Crawford (1902-1986): Crawford's Broadway career spanned more than half a century and included such hit productions as "Brigadoon," "Sweet Bird of Youth," and "Paint Your Wagon." She originally planned to become a missionary but fell in love with the theatre after performing in an amateur production of "Macbeth" in her native Ohio when she was fifteen years old. In 1925 she moved to New York City and along with Harold Clurman, and Lee Strasberg formed the Group Theatre, an ensemble modeled after the Moscow Art Theatre and dedicated to the presentation of socially relevant plays and the Stanislavsky method of acting. Among the plays the theatre presented are the modern classics "Waiting for Lefty" and "Golden Boy," as well as the Pulitzer Prize-winning "Men in White."
In 1937 Crawford left the Group Theatre after years of increasing internal dissention and announced her plans to become an independent producer, a position few women held at that time. Her first major success was a 1942 revival of "Porgy and Bess," which established Miss Crawford as a big-time Broadway producer." Crawford produced a number of big hits, including Tennessee Williams's "Camino Real" and "The Rose Tattoo" (for which she was awarded a Tony in 1951) and "Brigadoon".
"The best time I ever had as a producer was on the morning after 'Brigadoon' opened in 1947. All the critics loved it. It was the only time in my life I ever had a show that all the critics loved."- Cheryl Crawford
- Alexandra Exter
Alexandra Exter (1882-1949): Ukrainian artist, theatrical designer, and teacher, was one of the founders of the early 20th century avant-garde movement. She studied at the Kiev institute 1901 to 1907, and at the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere in Paris. There she became acquainted with the Cubists Picasso and Braque, and began exhibiting her work with the futurists in 1912. She was the founder of the Kiev school of Cubo-futurist and Constructivist theatre design. For Alexander Tairov's Chamber Theatre in Moscow she designed Thamiros Kitharodos, Salome, and Romeo and Juliette. Equally famous were her extravagant costume designs for the 1924 Soviet science fiction film Aelita, Queen of Mars. Like many radical artists who did not fit in with Soviet ideology, Exter eventually left the country and settled permanently in Paris in 1924. For the next several decades she continued to produce innovative and influential stage and film designs and taught at Fernand Leger's Academie d'Art Moderne. She often incorporated modern industrial materials into her futuristic designs such as celluloid and sheet metal. In one famous design for the ballet, she created "epidermic" costumes in which dancer's bodies were painted rather than dressed.
"Creating and exhibiting art in a man's world calls for a certain amount of corage... especially if you are a young female artist sandwiched between two Russian revolutions!" - Alexandra Exter
- Edith Evans
Edith Evans (1888 - 1976): Edith Evans was one of the greatest actress on the English stage in the 20th century, trodding the boards for over half-a-century. She was born in London and by 15 was apprenticed as a milliner. At 16, she began taking dramatics in the evening and was discovered after two years of performing with an amateur Shakespeare company. She debuted professionally as Cressida in Troilus and Cressida. Deciding to be an actress she said "I felt I could hardly go back to my hats" and threw herself in and worked - playing roles in classic and contemporary plays, her most famous being Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest.
She was made a Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (the equivalent of a knighthood) in 1946. Laurence Olivier wrote in his memoirs that Evans' power on stage began to falter in the early 1960s, as her memory dimmed with age. It was her performance as Miss Western in Richardson's Oscar-winning Best Picture Tom Jones that established her as a major film presence. She won her first Oscar nomination for Tom Jones, and her second the following year for The Chalk Garden. Dame Edith Evans continued to act in films until her death, though the material generally was beneath her great talent. She died on October 14, 1976, at the age of 88.
"I want a job with no end to it. It must be so big that it will go on spreading and spreading forever." - Dame Edith Evans
- Hallie Flanagan
Hallie Flanagan (1890-1969): Animated by the desire to introduce her students to the latest techniques of the European avant garde, Hallie Flanagan founded the Vassar College Experimental Theatre in 1925. In 1935 she was lured away to head the critically successful Federal Theatre Project. During the "full, lean years" of the Depression, a tiny woman in a fedora hat cast a huge shadow which covered the whole land with the vision of a different kind of theatre. Although it was founded by the United States government, Federal Theatre was, in fact, the vision of one woman, Hallie Flanagan, whose eyes were wide enough to take in the visions of many other artists of stature equal to her own.
During the four years that the Federal Theatre Project existed, 1935- 1939, Flanagan set a standard for theatrical producing that remains unmatched and she created a people's theatre across the land.
"It seems to me it is our job in the Federal Theatre Project to expand, as greatly as our imagination and talents will permit, the boundaries of theatre...the American theatre must wake up and grow up--to an age of expanding social consciousness." - Hallie Flanagan
- Edith Head
Edith Head (1898-1981): became chief designer at Paramount in charge of a costume department with a staff of hundreds. She was the first woman to head a design department at a major studio. From then on, at Paramount and later at Universal Studios, she became America's best-known and most successful Hollywood designer. She was noted for the range of her costume designs, from elegant simplicity to intricate flamboyance, and she also gained a reputation for being able to placate temperamental actors and directors. Head was nominated for an unprecedented 34 Academy Awards, winning a record 8.
"I've designed films I've never seen." - Edith Head
- Laura Keene
Laura Keene (1820-1873): actress and theatre manager was born in England and died in Montclair, New Jersey. She played with Mme Vestris at the Lyceum, London, emigrated to the United States in 1852 and became manager (1855) of Laura Keene's Varieties Theater, New York City. In 1856 she opened Laura Keene's Theater (later the Olympic) and successfully produced and acted in many foreign and American plays until 1863.
Her most famous production was Tom Taylor's Our American Cousin, which she produced at Ford's Theater, Washington, D.C., when Lincoln was shot there in 1865. Her last undertaking was the publication of a weekly art journal in New York city, which was issued for about one year.
"No braver, steadier, abler soldier ever battled in the ranks of art than Laura Keene." - Obituary, New York Herald
- Isadora Duncan
Isadora Duncan (1878-1927) is known as the mother of "modern dance," founding the "New System" of interpretive dance, blending together poetry, music and the rhythms of nature. She did not believe in the formality of conventional ballet and gave birth to a more free form of dance, dancing barefoot and in simple Greek apparel. Her fans recognized her for her passionate dancing and she ultimately proved to be the most famous dancer of her time. Severe tragedy struck at the peak of her fame. Her two children were drowned when their car rolled into the Seine. When she eventually returned to her Art with the encouragement of the great actress Eleanor Duse, her choreography reflected her suffering. Isadora's dream was to teach children who would then continue to teach others. This was more important to her than performances, although performing was important as a motivating force and also to help finance her school. She died on September 19, 1927 in France, when her scarf became entangled in the rear wheel of a convertible car.
”The Dance –it is the rhythm of all that dies in order to live again; it is the eternal rising of the sun.” - Isadora Duncan
- Azucena Villaflor
Azucena Villaflor (1924, - 1977?) was an Argentine social activist and one of the founders of the human rights association called the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, which looked for the desaparecidos (victims of the forced "disappearance" during Argentina's Dirty War). On November 30, 1976 her son Néstor and his wife were abducted. She began searching for them at the Ministry of Interior where she met other women who were also looking for their missing relatives. After six months of fruitless inquiry, Villaflor decided to start a series of demonstrations in order to take her case public. On April 30, 1977, she and thirteen other mothers went to the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires. For over the past 30 years the women have marched every Thursday at 3:30 PM (this schedule is still kept at present).
In 1977 the Mothers published a newspaper advertisement with the names of their "disappeared" children. That same night, Azucena Villaflor was taken by armed force from her home in Buenos Aires. Her body, together with those of two other Mothers, was found and identified in July 2005. Her remains were cremated and her ashes were buried in the center of the Plaza de Mayo, on 8 December 2005, at the end of the 25th Annual Resistance March of the Mothers.
"Here [at the Plaza] is where my mother was born to public life and here she must stay forever. She must stay for everyone". – Cecelia Villaflor
- Anna May Wong
Anna May Wong (1905-1961): beautiful, tall (5'7"), slender, and Chinese-American. The last fact kept her from attaining the highest echelon among Hollywood's pantheon of stars, but it did not affect her popularity, nor keep her from becoming a household name. Born on Flower Street in Los Angeles' Chinatown above her father's laundry she became fascinated with the movies at a young age. By 1927 Anna May had run the gamut of studios, from Tiffany to M-G-M, as she added to her list of credits. But heavily made-up Caucasian actors had always been cast as in leading parts and when Anna May landed yet another supporting role she made the move to more tolerant Europe.
In England, Anna May made her first stage appearance opposite a young up-and-coming thespian named Laurence Olivier. Anna May Wong's contribution to show business is a unique one; she was the first Asian female to become a star, achieving that stardom at a time when bias against her race was crushing.
"I'm Anna May Wong. I come from old Hong Kong. But now I'm a Hollywood star." - from a song in Anna May Wong’s cabaret act
- Eva Le Gallienne
Eva Le Gallienne (1899-1991): was one of the most successful figures in American theater for several decades. In addition to being an actress, she was also a director, producer, teacher, and memoirist, as well as a translator of the works of Ibsen, Chekhov, and others. Born in London her childhood was divided between time with her mother in Paris and time with her bon vivant father in England. In 1915 she and her mother sailed for New York. By 1920, she had signed a contract with theater impresarios the Shuberts and became popular on the theater circuit. Dissatisfied with the commercial theater of the day, Le Gallienne sought to develop a repertory company that would offer quality productions at low prices.
The critics panned the production, but the play won a Pulitzer Prize. In late 1929, just after the stock market crashed, Le Gallienne graced the cover of Time magazine. The accompanying article reported that The Civic Repertory Theater was one of the few theaters still playing to full houses. Despite its large audiences, however, the Civic's expenses often exceeded its income, and the company folded in 1935. In 1964, she received a Tony Award for her production of Chekhov's The Seagull. At the age of eighty, Le Gallienne was cast along with Ellen Burstyn in Daniel Petrie's film Resurrection. Le Gallienne's performance as Grandma Pearl earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Le Gallienne died at the age of 92 on June 3, 1992.
"The theater should be an instrument for giving, not a machinery for getting." - Eva Le Gallienne
- Lisa Lopes
Lisa Lopes (1971-2002): Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes was born in Philadelphia, PA, Lisa Nicole Lopes, the eldest child of Wanda D. and Ronald E. Lopes. She began playing the piano when she was five years old and by the time she was a teenager she was entering various local talent contests as a rapper and helping out other acts as a designer and visual artist. Lopes quickly became known around the Atlanta performing scene by her nickname, "Left-Eye," bestowed upon her by singer Michael Bivins, who was a former member of New Edition.
After less than a year in Georgia, Lopes joined forces in 1991 with two other Atlanta-area performers, Crystal Jones and Tionne Watkins, who were looking for a third member to join their group, 2nd Nature, as a rap vocalist. The group renamed itself TLC after signing a management contract in 1991. Watkins and Lopes decided to oust Jones from the group and replace her with Atlanta native Rozonda Thomas. TLC became a multi-platinum and Grammy award winning and socially conscious musical group. She contributed to albums by Melanie C and Mya, and branched out on her own with a solo album, Supernova, completed in 2001. At the time of her death in early 2002, Lisa had just finished a month-long meditation fast, and was in the process of setting up an education center for children, all in Honduras.
"There's a thin line between genius and insanity - and I always get labeled as being the crazy one." - Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes
- Dorothy Parker
Dorothy Parker (1893-1967): was born on August 22, 1893, in West End, New Jersey at the family's summer home, but her true home was New York City. Dorothy's childhood was an unhappy one, marred by many deaths in the family. She spent her early career as a staff writer for two Conde Nast publications, Vogue and Vanity Fair. In 1917 she replaced P.G. Wodehouse as drama critic for Vanity Fair, making her New York City's first female drama critic, and certainly one of it's most famous. Dottie once remarked that a performance of Katharine Hepburn's "ran the gamut of emotion from A to B". Also in 1917, Dorothy married Edwin Pond Parker II, becoming Dorothy Parker.
Throughout her career, Parker published bestselling collections of her work, including Enough Rope (1926), Sunset Gun (1928), Laments for the Living (1930), and Death and Taxes (1931). Her last major work was a drama, The Ladies of the Corridor, which she wrote in 1953 with Arnaud d'Usseau. Dorothy Parker died on June 7, 1967, leaving every penny of her estate to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. She is buried in Baltimore, Maryland at the headquarters of the NAACP. For her epitaph, she suggested "Excuse My Dust". In 2005, her birthplace was designated the first national literary landmark in the Garden State.
"Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song, a medley of extemporanea; and love is a thing that can never go wrong; and I am Marie of Roumania." - Dorothy Parker
- Diana Sands
Diana Sands (1934-1973): Throughout her career actress Diana Sands successfully challenged racial barriers in the theater world by pursuing and winning parts that were traditionally played by white actresses. At a time when black actors were offered minor or marginal roles Sands battled for more interracial casting saying "Look at me. Never mind my color. Please just look at me!". A native New Yorker who graduated from the High School of the Performing Arts, Sands made her professional debut off-Broadway playing Juliet in An Evening with Will Shakespeare in 1953 and a year later she appeared in a revival of Bernard Shaw's Major Barbara. She had a few minor successes before making her Broadway debut in Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun.
She was nominated for a Tony for her performance. Sands continued in this vein when, in the late 1960s as a member of the Repertory Theater at Lincoln Center, she became the first African-American woman to play Joan of Arc in a professional production when she appeared in Shaw's Saint Joan. After being nominated for two Emmy awards Sands was set to play Claudine in the 1974 film of the same name, but a long-time chain smoker, Sands was diagnosed with cancer and was to sick to take the role. She died in September of that year.
"I refuse to be stereotyped." - Diana Sands
- Anne Sexton
Anne Sexton (1928-1974): was a writer of Confessional poetry -- poetry of the personal or "I". Sexton emerged in the late 1950's with contemporaries such as Sylvia Plath, who shocked the nation with a very intimate view of the experience of being a woman. She brought topics such as menstruation, abortion, drug addiction, postpartum depression and mental breakdowns out of June Cleaver's kitchen and onto the dinner table of American literature. Not to say that she didn't have the facade of a perfect suburban housewife herself--living a privileged life of prep schools and servants in Boston suburbia, married to a sailor with two daughters of her own.
Sexton began writing in 1956 as a psychiatric treatment, an outlet and a grasp at sanity, and in less than a decade, she won the Pulitzer Prize for Literature for my third book of poetry, "Live or Die", a question that plagued her every day of her life. In October of 1974, she answered that question, ending her life by carbon monoxide poisoning. Sexton's words live on. ("I" will be remembered as a woman poet who embodied and analyzed the position of mid twentieth-century women as artists, as people in trouble, and as people taking charge.)
"I was tired of being a woman, tired of the spoons and the pots, tired of my mouth and my breasts, tired of the cosmetics and the silks. There were still men who sat at my table, circled around the bowl I offered up...But I was tired of the gender of things." - Anne Sexton
- Sophie Treadwell
Sophie Treadwell (1885-1970): Treadwell's foray into the theatre began as an actress in vaudeville and included early mentoring by the famed Polish actress Helena Modjeska. Author of forty plays, Treadwell was one of only a few women dramatists who also directed and produced many of her own works. Her best-known play, the 1928 expressionist drama "Machinal", was produced with a young Clark Gable in the cast. Based loosely on a sensational murder trial in New York, "Machinal" has received numerous revivals in the past decade, most notably by the New York Shakespeare Festival, the Royal National Theatre in London and the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco.
She began her career as a journalist while attending the University of California at Berkeley. During World War I, the State Department recognized Treadwell as one of America's first accredited female foreign war correspondents. In the 1920s, she became the only American journalist granted an interview with Pancho Villa at his remote ranch following the Mexican Revolution
"Love! What does that mean? Will it clothe you?. . .feed you?. . .pay the bills?" - Machinal, by Sophie Treadwell
- Lupe Velez
Lupe Velez (1908 - 1944): Born in a suburb of Mexico City, the daughter of a prostitute, Lupe was sent to Texas at the age of 13 to live in a convent. In 1924, Lupe moved to Hollywood where she was discovered by Hal Roach who cast her in a comedy with Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. She married Johnny Weissmuller but that marriage only lasted five years and was filled with battles. In 1944, tired of yet another failed romance with Harold Raymond and pregnant with his child, Lupe committed suicide. She was 36 years old.
"The first time you buy a house you see how pretty the paint is and buy it. The second time you look to see if the basement has termites. It's the same with men." - Lupe Velez
- Ethel Waters
Ethel Waters (1896 - 1977): was born in 1896, in Chester, Pennsylvania, a child of violence and poverty. Ethel came of age in what today might be called, "The Hood". Despite a difficult beginning, she turned out pretty well. At the age of 17, Ethel decided that her original dream of becoming a maid for a wealthy white woman just wasn't going to cut it, so she began a career in show business. (And she thought it was tough back in "The Hood"!) She made countless jazz, pop and gospel recordings throughout her 70 year career, working with Duke Ellington and even taught Fletcher Henderson what "real jazz" should sound like.
She was the first Black female entertainer to receive equal billing on a Broadway marquee with her white counterparts, and the second black actress to receive an Academy Award Nomination. (Thanks, Miss Mc Daniel.) She refused the role of the housekeeper in Carson McCullers' Member of the Wedding until it was re-written to her specifications. What did Carson McCuller's know about being a maid?
"We are all gifted. That is our inheritance." - Ethel Waters
- Bea Arthur
Bea Arthur (1922- 2009) A Tony Award winning actress and animal rights and AIDS activist, Bea Arthur was best known for her roles on two ground-breaking television sitcoms, Maude and The Golden Girls. Born Bernice Frankel in New York City, Arthur said that she changed her name to Beatrice because it would look good on a marquee. In "Maude," Arthur played a strong-willed, politically liberal woman who lived with her husband and divorced adult daughter. The show, which aired from 1972 to 1978, took on topics like women’s rights and abortion. "The Golden Girls" was about four older women living in Miami, Florida and was one of the few series to feature a cast of actresses over the age of 40. Arthur won Emmy awards for both roles.
“After being in the business for such a long time, I've done everything but rodeo and porn.” – Bea Arthur
- Audrey Hepburn
Audrey Hepburn (1929- 1993) Actress and humanitarian, she was born Edda van Heemstra Hepburn-Ruston in Brussels, Belgium. Her father was a banker, and her mother was a Dutch baroness. Her parents divorced when she was young and Hepburn and her mother later suffered from malnutrition and oppression during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands during World War II. Following the war, Hepburn moved with her mother to London and began studying dance there. When she was twenty-one, she was working as a model. She got her break into show business when she was noticed by the French novelist, Collette, who cast her in her new play, GIGI.
Hepburn's career as an actress had a tremendous start when she won an Academy Award for her film debut in the movie ROMAN HOLIDAY. Throughout her career she received four more Academy Award nominations for her roles in SABRINA, THE NUN'S STORY, BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S and WAIT UNTIL DARK. In 1988, she became a special ambassador to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and spent the rest of her life working to improve the conditions of needy children. She died of colon cancer at the age of 63. She was awarded the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award posthumously for her work with UNICEF.
"I love people who make me laugh. I honestly think it's the thing I like most, to laugh. It cures a multitude of ills. It's probably the most important thing in a person." — Audrey Hepburn