Butterfly McQueen Remembered (Paperback)
  • Butterfly McQueen Remembered (Paperback)
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Butterfly McQueen Remembered (Paperback)

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£31.95
Paperback 176 Pages / Published: 09/10/2007
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Butterfly McQueen will always be remembered for her first screen role-as Scarlett O'Hara's hysterical servant girl, Prissy, in Gone With the Wind (1939)-and for her most famous line in the Civil War epic: "I don't know nuthin' 'bout birthin' babies!" Though many criticized her for playing an offensive caricature of black womanhood, film scholar Donald Bogle claims her performance is "a unique combination of the comic and the pathetic." Tired of playing what she called "stupid maids," however, Butterfly turned her back on Hollywood in the 1940s and spent the next fifty years in obscurity. On several occasions she tried to revive her theatrical career, but her identification with Prissy made it difficult for her to be taken seriously by producers and casting agents. Mostly she supported herself by taking menial jobs. In the 1970s she was active in social work projects in Harlem, and was awarded a degree by the City College of New York. In 1989, as one of the last surviving members of the cast of Gone With the Wind, Butterfly happily participated in the film's 50th anniversary celebrations. At the time of the celebrations she said: "Now I am happy I did Gone With the Wind. I wasn't when I was 28, but it's part of black history. You have no idea how hard it is for black actors, but things change, things blossom in time." In Butterfly McQueen Remembered, author Stephen Bourne, who corresponded with Butterfly for many years, draws upon two decades of research to document her life and career. From her memorable role in one of Hollywood's greatest films to her last big screen appearance opposite Harrison Ford in The Mosquito Coast, the details of McQueen's life are captured in this intimate portrait. Bourne chronicles the ups and downs of this talented and generous woman's life, both in front of the camera and far from its glaring spotlight.

Publisher: Scarecrow Press
ISBN: 9780810860186
Number of pages: 176
Weight: 286 g
Dimensions: 228 x 153 x 12 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
An intimate portrait of McQueen's life and career. * Library Journal, 11/1/2007 *
Stephen Bourne's memoir of this great performer is well researched and beautifully written - as one would expect from this biographer. It's also a chilling tale of how Hollywood destroys its own and one that deserves to be read by actors and fans of McQueen alike. -- Patrick Newley, The Stage, 2008
Bourne pulls all into perspective and reveals a talented but unfulfilled actor who was frustrated and denied by larger systems and institutions; an altruistic survivor who later became an anti-poverty activist. All Black actors working in Hollywood should read Bourne's biographies on McQueen and Ethel Waters (2007). Film historians and anti-racist educators should place these works as staples on Black History booklists. It is a solidly crafted work on an enigmatic Black woman. * Black and Asian Studies Association Newsletter, July 2009 *
Bourne's Butterfly McQueen Remembered is a much-needed entry in the history of American and black American culture and artistic production . . . The chronicle of McQueen's journey as a performing artist will be valuable in stimulating new scholarship in the history of black theater and is a rich resource for those looking at the history of black creativity in Hollywood. It is likely to inspire further inquiry into the early twentieth-century work of lesser known black theater artists and into the complex climate endured by black actors in Hollywood. * Black Camera: An International Film Journal, Winter 2009 *
Stephen Bourne's portrait of this remarkable woman is not just a study of her life, work and beliefs. It is also a more general account of the plight of African American actors in the Hollywood studio system and a re-examination of the nature and meaning of their performances. * Film & History: An Interdisciplinary Journal, October 2008 *

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