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Preer, Evelyn (1896–1932)

actress leading homesteader role

PREER, EVELYN (1896–1932). Actress. The Vicksburg, Mississippi, native became a pioneering black actress in race movies and dramatic theater. As an icon in Hollywood and on the Broadway stage, Preer, with her light complexion, was a leading lady who could easily cross over. Her career began in Chicago doing minstrel shows with Charley Johnson’s vaudeville troupe until maverick filmmaker Oscar Micheaux chose her for the lead role in The Homesteader , 1918, his film debut. He heavily promoted Preer into star status with personal appearance tours, and she became his premiere leading lady, starring in at least 10 of his films, including Within Our Gates , 1920; Birthright , 1924; and The Conjure Woman , 1926. Preer also starred in three comedy shorts produced at the Al Christie studios: The Framing of the Shrew , 1928; Melancholy Dame , 1928; and Oft in the Silly Night , 1928. Between films, Preer performed on stage with The Lafayette Players, the theatrical stock company founded by fellow pioneer actress Anita Bush. It was here that Preer met her husband, actor Edward Thompson. On Broadway, she was in David Belasco’s 1926 production of Edward Sheldon’s Lulu Belle , where she supported and understudied German actress Lenore Ulrich in the leading role. Preer was also a jazz singer and recording artist, often backed by the music of Duke Ellington and Red Nichols.

Filmography: The Homesteader , 1918; Within Our Gates , 1920; Birthright , 1924; The Conjure Woman , 1926.

Pregl, Fritz [next] [back] Preconceptions about Dance - EARLIER MISUNDERSTANDINGS., RECENT SCHOLARSHIP., THE WISEMAN ANY ON DANCE, SOURCES

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