Paul Robeson

Paul Robeson
Cal Montney / Los Angeles Times

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Paul Robeson
Film: South side of the 6600 block of Hollywood Boulevard
Actor | Athlete | Singer
Born Paul Bustill Robeson on April 9, 1898 in Princeton, NJ
Died Jan. 23, 1976 of stroke in Philadelphia, PA

Paul Robeson drew bravos for his rich brass-baritone voice and was vilified for his associations with communism.

The actor, singer, athlete and outspoken critic of American racism was the son of a runaway slave.

Robeson's biting statements about racism, combined with his praise of the Soviet Union and friendships with U.S. Communist Party members, brought him ostracism in the 1940s and 1950s. His passport was revoked in 1950 at the height of Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy's inquisition into suspected communists.

Robeson's most famous performances probably were those in which he played Othello, the noble Spanish moor. He drew 20 curtain calls for the role at the Savoy in London in 1930, and "Othello" ran for 296 performances in New York in 1943—a record for a Shakespearean play on Broadway.

He starred in 10 major American plays and numerous Hollywood films, including the screen version of Eugene O'Neill's "Emperor Jones." Robeson also refused to sing before segregated audiences and pressed the federal government for anti-lynching legislation.

He lived in self-imposed seclusion at his sister's home in West Philadelphia for more than a decade before his death, seeing only family members and close friends.

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