When you think of classic Black beauties, the first names that probably come to mind are Billie Holiday, Dorothy Dandridge and Lena Horne. True, they were breathtakingly beautiful, BUT they were NOT thee only ones! Despite their popularity, history shows that there were fists full of beauties during the early-to-mid 20th century who were just as hot as these three megastars and even just as popular during their time. They just don’t get as much shine.
Take a look at these jaw-dropping knockouts that stole hearts all over the world during the first half of the 20th century.
Known as “America’s Singing Sweetheart,” Monica Lewis rose to fame as a singer on radio shows such as The Revere Camera Show and Beat the Band. The talented vocalist was also a famed movie star, and the singing voice of Chiquita Brands International’s “Miss Chiquita Banana” during the ’40s.
She slayed as a jazz singer and pianist throughout the ’30s and ’40s. She lit up television screens with her bubbly personality, refusing to ever play a role that stereotyped Black Queens. In 1950, she became the first Black woman to have her own TV series, The Hazel Scott Show.
Simply put: Ms. Scott was the SUGAR. HONEY. ICED. TEA.
Best known for her role in the 1959 French film Black Orpheus, this Black beauty surely made jaws drop during her heyday. In November 1959, Marpessa dazzled on the cover of Ebony Magazine, and was subsequently deemed as one of the prettiest women to ever grace the cover of the esteemed mag.
I mean, just look at her. (Flip hair.)
Boy, was she a knockout. Famous for her roles in “race films” during the ’40s and ’50s, the esteemed movie star was also a major Broadway babe where she showed off her sweet singing voice. (And made men all over the country drip sweat and drool. Like you’re doing right now. Put your tongue back in your mouth, son!)
Full of personality and a magnetic, earthy set of pipes, Pearly Bailey was aptly deemed “America’s Ambassador of Love.” Respected for her roles in films such as Carmen Jones, Porgy and Bess and the Broadway hit Hello, Dolly!, this award-winning beauty was the true definition of a triple threat.
Besides her killer looks, Ms. Bailey lit up Broadway, music recordings, torn down the big screen AND boasted a successful writing career. She even had her own variety series, The Pearl Bailey Show, showcasing all her #BlackGirlMagic. To put the icing on her swag-tastic cake, this pretty little pearl received the Presidential Meadow of Freedom from President Ronald Reagan in 1988. #WcwERRday
With just one look at this Queen, it’s not hard to see why she was dubbed “The most beautiful woman in Harlem,” during the height of her career. A model, singer and actress, Francine Everett shinned in a number of race films, including titles like Paradise in Harlem and the musical short Ebony on Parade, which co-starred jazz legends Count Basie, Dorothy Dandrige and Cab Calloway.
Although she had a few small roles in some big Hollywood hits, the gorgeous dame refused to accept stereotypical roles like the infamous submissive Black maid, so her career on the mainstream circuit was short-lived. (Aka she was a badass BOSS!)
No doubt, this Harlemite was pretty poppin’!
Comment below and let us know which of these classic beauties if your fav.