Black News and News Makers in History: Juanita Hall

African American news from Pasadena - Black News and News Makers in History - celebrates Juanita Hall this week in Black historyJuanita Hall, singer and actress, born. Perhaps best remembered as Bloody Mary in Rodgers & Hammerstein's 'South Pacific.'

Juanita Hall, born November 6, 1901 in Keyport, New Jersey, she was educated in the public school system there and she developed her voice while singing in the local Catholic Church choir.

Hall attended Juilliard School of Music in New York City.

As a teenager, she was married to Clement Hall who died in 1920. She never remarried.

Her first successful performance was Julie in the Ziegfield production of Show Boat in 1928. Hall appeared in Green Pastures in 1930 with the Hall Johnson Choir, was soloist, and eventually became the assistant choir director.

She extended her director abilities to include the Works Progress Administration Chorus from 1935 to 1944, The Westchester Chorale and Dramatics Association from 1941 to 1942 and her own choir, The Juanita Hall Choir in 1942.

Hall's voice could be heard on radio, too, with Rudy Vallee and Kate Smith.

She sang on Broadway from 1943 to 1947 in The Pirate, Sing Out Sweet Land, Saint Louis Woman, Deep Are the Roots, and Street Scene.

Hall sang on the nightclub circuit and was discovered by Richard Rogers. He cast her in the role of Bloody Mary in South Pacific, which opened at the Majestic Theater in New York City on April 7, 1949 where, in her supporting role, she virtually stole show from its stars Mary Martin and Enzio Pinza. For this, she won the Donaldson Award and, in 1950, received the Tony Award for her portrayal of the character.

In 1958, she appeared in the motion picture version of the musical on the same role.

After making the movie South Pacific, in 1958 she performed in her one-woman show, A Woman and the Blues and was also cast as the Chinese lady, Madam Liang, in Flower Drum Song. Again, she reprised her role in the movie version.

She performed major roles in over 13 Broadway shows. Inspired as a child by blues legend, Bessie Smith, she only recorded one album of blues in her lifetime.

Each character was convincingly portrayed by Hall. She continued with the road show and the motion picture version until she became ill. Complications of diabetes caused the death of Juanita Hall on February 29, 1968 in Bayshore, Long Island.

Compiled from www.anothershadeofcolor.com and http://123nonstop.com/biography/Hall,_Juanita.


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