Sign in or register
for additional privileges

Birth of An Industry: Blackface Minstrelsy and the Rise of American Animation

Nicholas Sammond, Author

This page was created by Patricia Hill.  The last update was by Alice Xue.

You appear to be using an older verion of Internet Explorer. For the best experience please upgrade your IE version or switch to a another web browser.

Introduction, Page 23

The form of minstrelsy nostalgically invoked in films such as Babes in Arms (1939) or Holiday Inn (1942) took shape following the Civil War.

In this scene from Babes in Arms, Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland perform their nostalgia for the good old days of minstrelsy. With a full marching band of people in blackface, minstrelsy is treated here as a memento, as Garland fondly recalls the days "when [George] Primrose was the king." This scene ends with Garland taking off her makeup to become 'white' again, uniting with her blackfaced lover as a storm blows in to wash the burnt cork off Rooney's face. 

Similarly, Holiday Inn scene offers a tribute in honor of Abraham Lincoln's birthday, performing Irving Berlin's  number "Abraham" as a blackface minstrel show. Not only are the two performers, Jim (Bing Crosby) and Linda (Marjorie Reynolds) in blackface, so is the entire band and all of the waiters and waitresses serving a white audience. The song details Lincoln's freeing of African American slaves. 

The scene features a counterpoint in which the inn's housekeeper, Mamie, sits in the kitchen singing the song to her two children. Her exclusion from the onstage performance, while she sings of black emancipation, deepens the racist irony of the scene.
Comment on this page

Discussion of "Introduction, Page 23"

Add your voice to this discussion.

Checking your signed in status ...

Previous page on path Introduction, page 14 of 17 Next page on path

Related:  Race, Page 206Race, Page 258Space, Page 189Race, Page 231Labor, Page 109Space, Page 178Performance, Page 82Space, Page 150Space, Page 148Performance, Page 44Introduction, Page 2Space, Page 170Space, Page 195Space, Page 163Space, Page 183Race, Page 254Space, Page 182Race, Page 230Introduction, Page 14Conclusion, Page 291Performance, Page 77Conclusion, Page 304Labor, Page 112Space, Page 175Space, Page 165Space, Page 193Race, Page 248Race, Page 225Race, Page 247Race, Page 229Labor, Page 122Space, Page 177Space, Page 143Performance, Page 74Performance, Page 50Introduction, Page 21Space, Page 184Performance, Page 60Space, Page 197Race, Page 261Race, Page 235Space, Page 190Introduction, Page 30Space, Page 194Conclusion, Page 303Performance, Page 46Performance, Page 34Space, Page 162Labor, Page 113Space, Page 181Conclusion, Page 278Race, Page 232Space, Page 191Performance, Page 72Performance, Page 41Conclusion, Page 286Space, Page 152Race, Page 213Labor, Page 129Space, Page 172Space, Page 187Space, Page 141Introduction, Page 29Race, Page 224Conclusion, Page 273Space, Page 171Conclusion, Page 289Performance, Page 84Introduction, Page 15Performance, Page 35Race, Page 252Labor, Page 110Labor, Page 119Conclusion, Page 290Conclusion, Page 300Conclusion, Page 292Performance, Page 42Introduction, Page 1Labor, Page 88Conclusion, Page 302Performance, Page 40Conclusion, Page 298Space, Page 137Race, Page 239Introduction, Page 6Space, Page 188Race, Page 221Labor, Page 123Introduction, Page 4Space, Page 138Introduction, Page 16Performance, Page 45Labor, Page 131Race, Page 251Performance, Page 54Conclusion, Page 284Conclusion, Page 275Conclusion, Page 296Labor, Page 128Race, Page 204Race, Page 253Labor, Page 133Space, Page 146Race, Page 220Race, Page 219Labor, Page 98Performance, Page 47Labor, Page 132Performance, Page 52Performance, Page 43Space, Page 155