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Fredi Washington


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Fredi Washington was one of the first African-American actresses to gain recognition for her work on stage and in film especially in the groundbreaking movie "Imitation of Life." Miss Washington, whose given name was Fredricka, was born in Savannah, Ga., on Dec. 23, 1903. She made her first cabaret appearance in New York at 16 as a member of the Happy Honeysuckles and was a chorus girl in the musical "Shuffle Along" in 1921. While performing at the Club Alabam in Manhattan, she was noticed by the producer Lee Shubert, who recommended her for the co-starring role opposite Paul Robeson in the play "Black Boy." At the end of the run, with no serious productions for black actors in view, she turned to dancing and toured Europe with her dance partner, Al Moiret.

When she returned to the United States, she appeared in such stage productions as "Great Day," "Singing the Blues," "Mamba's Daughters," "Lysistrata" and "A Long Way From Home" (an all-black production of Gorky's "Lower Depths"). Her film work included roles in "The Emperor Jones," "Black and Tan Fantasy," "Drums in the Night" and "One Mile From Heaven."

Miss Washington worked for equal rights for African-Americans in the theater and film industry, and was also a drama editor and columnist for The People's Voice, a New York weekly newspaper.

From the nytimes.com...

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