New US Postage Stamps Honor Early Black Cinema

AP, July 15, 2008

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[Josephine] Baker’s movie [“Princess Tam-Tam,” 1935] is one of five recalled on a set of U.S. postage stamps being released Wednesday to honor vintage black cinema. Ceremonies marking the sale of the stamps will be held at the Newark Museum in New Jersey, which is holding a black film festival.

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Another poster, for a 1921 release, provides a taste of the racial divide that sent the young Baker to Europe to pursue her career.

“The Sport of the Gods,” the poster proclaims, is based on a book by Paul Laurence Dunbar, “America’s greatest race poet,” and it adds that the film has “an all-star cast of colored artists.”

Other posters in the set of 42-cent stamps are:

* “Black and Tan,” a 19-minute film released in 1929 featuring Duke Ellington and his Cotton Club Orchestra.

* “Caldonia,” another short at 18 minutes, which was released in 1945. It showcased singer, saxophonist and bandleader Louis Jordan.

* “Hallelujah,” a 1929 movie released by MGM. It was one of the first films from a major studio to feature an all-black cast. Producer-director King Vidor was nominated for an Academy Award for his attempt to portray rural African-American life, especially religious experience.

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