This Day in Black History: March 8, 1902

Louise Beavers, prominent African-American actress, was born.

Posted: 03/08/2013 08:00 AM EST

Louise Beavers was an African-American actress who appeared in numerous films in the 1920s and 1930s and also appeared in television roles. She was largely known for playing the role of domestic workers.

Beavers was born in Cincinnati but moved to southern California with her parents at a young age. In 1927, she auditioned for a role in the film Uncle Tom’s Cabin and landed the part. By 1934, she would get the role of Delilah in the film Imitation of Life, offering her a leading role that was equal in importance to that of the white actress Claudette Colbert. It was an important role in her career.

Over the years, she was criticized for appearing in roles in which African-Americans were subservient to white actors. However, she responded by pointing out that there were limited opportunities for Black actors in Hollywood. She said she was “only playing the parts. I don't live them.” As she became more famous, she started to speak out against how the Hollywood industry was portraying African-Americans and how they were treated during production.

Her television work consisted of her appearing on The Danny Thomas Show for the show’s first two seasons, from 1953 to 1955. She also was one of four actresses who played the title role in the television show Beulah. She died in 1962 of a heart attack in Los Angeles.

 

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(Photo: Selznick International Pictures)

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