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Black History Month: Women in TV & Film - Francine Everett

Updated: Jun 16, 2023

Francine Everett was a Hollywood starlet, best known for her roles in “race movies.” Married young, her first husband died only a couple years into their marriage and she was a widow at age 17. She married her second husband, also an actor, in 1936 and then moved from New York to Hollywood. While living there they were both offered roles in the all-Black cast film The Green Pastures. Everett’s husband accepted a major part, while she declined due the the racial discrimination she’d witnessed in the industry.

Movie poster for The Green Pastures

Everett divorced her husband in 1939 and moved back to New York where she appeared in music videos, then called “soundies,” and appeared in her first film the same year, Keep Punching. 

Throughout the 1940s she became the go-to lead for “race films” that catered to Black American audiences. In 1946 she starred in Dirty Gertie from Harlem U.S.A, a film directed by a Black man.

Hollywood executives were not impressed with her prominence in Black Cinema, and insisted she play stereotypical Black roles like maids. Everett refused, however she did end up appearing in two Hollywood-produced films, Lost Boundaries and No Way Out before retiring from show business in the 50s.

You can view her film Dirty Gertie from Harlem on in our Black History Film Collection


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