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Wed, 08.27.1884

Rose McClendon, a builder of the Black Stage

Rose McClendon

Rose McClendon was born on this date in 1884. She was a Black actress, theater administrator, and director.

She was born in Greenville, North Carolina, and named Rosalie Virginia Scott, the daughter of Sandy and Lena Jenkins-Scott. Around 1890, the family moved to New York City where young Rosalie attended public schools.  She studied acting at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City, made her stage debut in 1919, appeared in "Deep River" and "In Abraham's Bosom" (both 1926), in Langston Hughes' "Mulatto," and in the original production of "Porgy and Bess" (both 1935). That same year, McClendon was a co-founder of the Negro People's Theatre.

While watching McClendon descend the winding staircase in the opera "Deep River," the producer Arthur Hopkins whispered to Ethel Barrymore, “She can teach some of your most hoity-toity actesses distinction.” Barrymore later replied, “She can teach them all distinction.” Rose McClendon died in 1936.

In 1946, Carl Van Vechten established the Rose McClendon Memorial Collection at Howard University, a collection of 100 photographs of prominent African American artists and writers.

Reference:
Black Women in America An Historical Encyclopedia
Volumes 1 and 2, edited by Darlene Clark Hine
Copyright 1993, Carlson Publishing Inc., Brooklyn, New York
ISBN 0-926019-61-9

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