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