Sunday, December 05, 2004
More on the Jane White story
An interesting conversation ensued. [Hope that link works if you're not a member logged in?]
Basically someone read my post about Ms. White and thought I was implying she was "forced" to do the part in white face, and that I was calling producer George Abbot a racist.
Actually, I think Abbott was just afraid that lots of other people (like prospective audience members) were racist. And I'm sure Ms. White wasn't forced with a gun to her head...she had free will...but it was clear it was the only way to get the Broadway starring role. And given that her father has expressly rejected passing for white all his life (he was blond and blue-eyed and only about 1/8 African American to begin with) I have to believe she would, at the very least, see the irony there.
Anyway, what I was trying to express was my personal surprise that such a move would be necessary. We see so much "non-traditional" casting these days, I'm sure producers wouldn't give it a second thought today. And I don't think of Mattress as some old, creaky show, but rather of a more modern musical era.
I went and did some Googling about and found a couple of interesting links about Ms. White and her father, Walter White.
On this site, Jane White reminisces about her childhood.
And here is the story (PDF-sorry) of Walter White passing for white, or not as the case was.
Gotta love the Internet.