Thursday, June 02, 2005

Valaida Snow's birthday

The great African-American star Valaida Snow was born on this day in 1903. Here's a brief note about her that I've excerpted (it's Summer rerun time) from my January 23rd blog entry.

Snow was a beautiful, multi-talented entertainer, a first-rate jazz arranger, trumpeter, dancer and singer who was once as well-known a performer as Ethel Waters, but who has since fallen into obscurity. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of her story from a dramatic point of view was her long internment by the Germans in a concentration camp during WW II.

Eventually freed in a prisoner exchange, she returned to the U.S. and was able to somewhat obtain to a modicum of her former celebrity before suffering a fatal stroke backstage at New York's Place Theater. Her story has almost everything, including, to invoke Thelma Ritter in All About Eve, "the hounds yapping at her rear end."

I've written a great deal more about Snow---an entire chapter---in my 1998 book, Hot From Harlem: Profiles in Classic African-American Entertainment.

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