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Thu, 07.26.1894

Mercedes Gilbert, Actress born

Mercedes Gilbert

*Mercedes Gilbert was born on this date in 1894. She was a Black actress, novelist, and poet.

Gilbert was a native of Jacksonville, Florida, and attended Edward Waters College. She originally trained as a nurse before coming to New York and entering the entertainment profession, first as a songwriter and then as a stage actress.


She was known for playing Zipporah, the wife of Moses, in the original touring production of "The Green Pastures" in 1930, and she was still performing in 1950, appearing on Broadway in a new version of the play "Tobacco Road," with an all-black cast. Gilbert appeared on the screen four times: first in the film, The Call of His People in 1921, next in the Oscar Micheaux film Body and Soul in 1925, in the film Moon Over Harlem in 1939 as Jackie's mother, and finally in the episode "The Green Dress" of the TV series Lights Out. She also appeared on radio, most notably in a 1943 tribute to black women in America called "Heroines in Bronze." She played the role of Sojourner Truth.

She occasionally performed on other radio programs, as well as writing and producing several radio skits. In the mid-1940s, she performed a one-woman show at historically black colleges across the United States. She was the author of a 1938 novel "Aunt Sara's Wooden God."

Mercedes Gilbert died at the age of 57, on Sunday, March 1, 1952, in Queens General Hospital in New York after a three-week illness. She was survived by her husband Arthur J. Stevenson and a brother Earl Gough, an actor.

To become an Actor or Actress


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