A Timeline of Show Boat, Pinky and Other Tales of Miscegenation

February 17, 2007



1812 One of the most powerful earthquakes to hit North American, struck New Madrid, Missouri temporarily reversing the flow of the mighty Mississippi according to a riverlorian.

1831 First show boat William Chapman

1863 President Lincoln, after two years of civil war declared the Emancipation Proclamation freeing American slaves.

1865-77 Reconstruction period: The period after the Civil War and the abolition of slavery.

1870 Fifteenth Amendment gave Black people the right to vote.

1880s and 1890s Fear of Black’s political power led to lynchings . . .

1883 Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi

1889 Chapter One of Ferber’s novel Show Boat opens on an April morning in Natchez, Mississippi. Natchez is south of Cairo where Kentucky, Illinois and Missouri come together. It takes place over a 43 year period.

1893 Chicago World’s Fair World’s Columbian Exposition.

1896 Ziegfeld met actress, Anna Held in London. She encouraged him to develop a show similar to the Paris revue, the Folies-Bergére.

1900 Taylorist political economy


1907 First Ziegfeld revue, the Follies of 1907, opened at the New York Theatre. It was the first of a series of long-running musicals that transformed musical theatre. His musical revues combined beautiful, but scantily clad chorus girls and showgirls with good legs, comedians, innovative and extravagant staging. He spared no expense in hiring the best actors, singers, comedians, composers, lyricists, costumers and set designers.

1909 W.E.B. Du Bois, the first black man to earn a PhD from Harvard University called for the creation of a black encyclopedia.

1912, 1914 and 1919 Ziegfield Follies.

1912 James Weldon Johnson first published The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man which described passing.

1918 Blacks who had served in WWI ideas and scholarship challenged theories of racial determinism and supremacy.

1918 Basu (2002) claimed that the political economic systems from Taylorism, through Fordism, post-Fordism, and flexible accumulation (Harvie 1989) spawned various forms of racial prejudice. Fordism combined with Taylorism as form of political economy. Fordism peaked in 1950s. Taylorism-Fordism encouraged the incorporation of ethnic populations into a hierarchical workforce in what Wallerstein described as ethnicization of workforce (Balibar and Wallerstein 1991). The phenomena of passing and had a socio-economic component.

Frederick Winslow Taylor published The Principles of Scientific Management in 1911, but he started and did much of his work in the last two decades of the nineteenth century. About the installation of the assembly line, Henry Ford comments that “the idea came in a general way from the over-head trolley that the Chicago packers use in dressing beef” (81). Ford dissociates himself from Taylor here, but the consistency of the procedures used in a whole new ergonomics legitimates the hyphenated usage of “Taylorism-Fordism” which stretches, then, from the last decades of the nineteenth century well into the twentieth. Taylorism and Fordism constitute a new ergonomics, but more broadly, they contribute significantly to the twentieth-century culture of the United States. In fact, Antonio Gramsci claims that “Americanism and Fordism” represent an effort “unmatched in history” to create “a new type of worker and of man” (302). Whatever we make of Gramsci’s reading of Taylorism and Fordism, it Is clear that he recognizes that economies of desire must be synchronized with the political economy, that the “new type of man” “cannot be developed until the sexual instinct has been suitably regulated” (297). (Basu 2002).

1920s Harlem Renaissance: Langston Hughes, Arna Bobtemps, Claude McKay, Countee Cullen, Zora Neale Hurston, Jean Toomer.

1920s Romantic cynicism replaces 19th century idealism?

1922 George Gershwin’s wrote Blue Monday an opera about Harlem. Blue Monday was orchestrated by Will Vodery, “a prominent Negro musician of the time who worked as an orchestrator for Ziegfeld’s follies and an accomplished conductor.” (Crouch, Stanley (1999) “An Inspired Borrower of a Black Tradition” (NYTimes) January 1999.)

1926 Jerome Kern gets stage rights to Edna Ferber’s Show Boat. He collaborates with Oscar Hammerstein II to write a musical comedy.

1926 Twenty six lynchings in the south.

1927 James Weldon Johnson book The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man was republished during the Harlem Renaissance with a major publisher. According to the Literary Encyclopedia entry, Johnson’s book “influenced the form and content of later African American novels by authors ranging from Johnson’s contemporaries to mid-century novelists such as James Baldwin and Ralph Ellison.”

1927 The original production of Show Boat produced by Ziegfeld opened in December, 1927 at the Ziegfeld Theatre. It was the first great modern musical. It ran for 572 performances. “It was the second longest running musical of the 1920s.” The music was written by? Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II (uncredited?). Tess Gardella plays Queenie.

1928 – 1929 Show Boat opens May 3, 1928 at the Drury Lane Theatre, London, England and plays 572 performances. It was directed by Felix Edwardes. Paul Robeson as Joe becomes the star of the musical.

1929 Stock market crash. The Depression struck.

1929 May 5 Universal Studios film version of Show Boat is released.

1929 Nella Larsen Passing.

1931 The Ziegfeld Girl: Alvina Casucci, danced on Broadway for ten years during the Depression with Ginger Rogers and Milton Birle. She danced nude as a mermaid in the 1931 Ziegfeld Follies. Ziegfeld lost his personal fortune through massive gambling debts and Wall Street losses (Kreuger:99). Ziegfeld’s last show had to be financed by mobsters.

1932 The Ziegfeld revival. It was his last production. Show Boat played in New York, 180 performances at the Casino Theatre. Edna Ferber was moved by Paul Robeson, who replaced Jules Bledsoe playing Joe. The original Casino Theatre was built in an exotic Moorish design in 1882. (Kreuger:101)

1936 The Great Ziegfield, a film on the life of Broadway producer, Ziegfeld, produced by Henry Blanke and British director, James Whale, received the best picture award of 1936.

1936 Universal film directed by Englishman James Whale. Musical version of Show Boat with Paul Robeson, Irene Dunne and Hattie McDaniel. The Great Depression continues.

1930s Richard Wright: Black writers.

1940 Edna Ferber writes her biography A Peculiar Treasure.

1945 MGM film production ZIEGFELD FOLLIES (1945) directed by Vincente Minnelli. With a cast of top stars:William Powell, Fred Astaire, Lucille Ball, Judy Garland, Lena Horne, Esther Williams, Red Skelton, Gene Kelly, Fanny Brice, Edward Arnold. It was the first time Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly danced together. It made over $5 million.

1945 End of WWII. Returned Black servicemen demand integration and civil rights. Following World War II, returned Black servicemen demanded integration and civil rights. Basu (2002) claimed that the political economic systems from Taylorism (1900-), through Fordism (1918-), post-Fordism, and flexible accumulation (Harvie 1989) spawned various forms of racial prejudice. Fordism peaked in the 1950s. Taylorism-Fordism encouraged the incorporation of ethnic populations into a hierarchical workforce in what Wallerstein described as ethnicization of workforce (Balibar and Wallerstein 1991). The phenomena of passing and had a socio-economic component.

1946 Cidd Ricketts-Sumner wrote her novel Quality (1946). Ricketts-Sumner was an educated woman with an MA from Columbia University and some medical training. Quality like Show Boat dealt with the theme of miscegenation.

1947 Broadway production of Show Boat. check date 1946?

1948 South African author Alan Paton (1903-1988) wrote Cry, My Beloved Country about race relations in in this novel situated in pre-apartheid South Africa.

1949 Kurt Weill produced a shallow, melodramatic musical Lost in the Stars based loosely on Alan Paton’s (1948) Cry, My Beloved Country.

1949 Elia Kazan directed the film Pinky based on Cidd Ricketts-Sumner’s novel Quality (1946). Phillip Dunne (1908-1992) and Dudley Nichols (1895-1960), both activists in their own way, did the screen writing.

1949 Cid Ricketts-Sumner published But the Morning Will Come a book about passing.

1951 MGM Film version of Show Boat. Directed by George Sidney. Ava Gardner plays Julie. William Warfield plays Joe. The film grossed over $8 million. Frank Sinatra sang Ol’ Man River.?

1951 Zolton Korda directed the film version of Cry, My Beloved Country. Author Alan Paton contributed to the screenplay version.

1951 Till the Clouds Roll By Tony Martin as Ravenal; Julie is Lena Horne.

1954 On April 8 the New York City Opera presented Show Boat at the New York City Centre. The musical was elevated to the role of great art. (Kreuger:198)

1954 Brown vs the Board of Education ended segregation in education in the U.S.A.

1959 Film Version of Show Boat starring Ava Gardner as Julie?

1965 Assassination of Malcolm X.

1966 Stage production at the Lincoln Centre.

1960s Revivals of musicals. The era of nostalgia. (Marks 1999) NYT 99/01/24)

1960s Motown glory years.

1971 Thomas Carey in role of Joe is a sensation in London.

1987 Harold Prince revival of Cabaret.

1988 Show Boat recording with Frederica von Stade and Teresa Stratas.

1989 In The Condition of Postmodernity (1989) human geographer David Harvey described “the shift in the understanding of time and space operative in the postmodern experience, a shift characterized primarily by an intensification of space-time compression. For Harvey, postmodernism is a cultural manifestation of late capitalism and a transformation of time and space that serves to accommodate a shift from a political economy based on Fordism to one based on flexible accumulation.”

1989 Livent opens The Phantom of the Opera in December. Receipts for The Phantom of the Opera were $1.5 million. Livent developed their first educational program.

1991 Livent begins to manage the Ford Centre for the Performing Arts for the North York Performing Arts Centre Corporation.

1992 The Stephen Lewis Report (anti-Black racism in Ontario).

1993 World premiere of Livent’s $10 million production Show Boat opened in October 17, 1993 at the North York. Livent, Drabinsky’s production company uses Show Boat as a teaching tool.

1995-99 Dr. Henry Louis Gates develops the CD-ROM Encarta Africana in Microsoft’s Encarta series.

1994 – 1997 The Broadway production of Livent’s Show Boat opened October 2, 1994 to ‘unanimous critical acclaim’ (www.livent.com) played 951 performances over a 27 week period. Its receipts were $100 million. It attracted 1.5 million people. It won five Tony awards including Best Revival of a Musical.

1994 Pinky was released as VHS by Movies Unlimited in 1994 and on DVD 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment in 2006.

1995 Cry, My Beloved Country was produced by Miramax Films.

1998 Livent’s Show Boat opens in Australia.

1998 U.S. businessmen Roy Furman and Michael Ovitz take control of Livent. They file for bankruptcy protection in November. Livent Inc. last annual financial balance sheet listed total revenue of $321,092,000; a loss of -44,131,000. It’s operations were suspended in November, 1998. (Thomson Canada Ltd.)

1998 Hollywoodism; Jews, Movies and the American Dream ( aka Hollywood: An Empire of Their Own (USA: video title) a documentary was produced by Simcha Jacobovici. He referred to the film Pinky.

1999 Garth Drabinsky and Myron Gottlieb, co-founders of Livent, face criminal charges in the United States. They are accused of fraud.

1999 Broadway Musical Annie Get Your Gun, the 1946 hit musical with music by Irving Berlin, is revived in a “wholesale renovation” (Marks. 1999. “Rewrite a Classic Musical?” NYT).

1999 The Mississippi: River of Song a PBS seven-part radio series on Mississippi River music. (Rogers, J. 1999 www.ottawacitizen/990105/e010521.html)

2000 Livent’s Show Boat’s (www.livent.com) North American tour supposed to continue into 2000. It was sponsored by Canadian Airlines.

2006 Pinky was released as VHS by Movies Unlimited in 1994 and on DVD 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment in 2006.

©© Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 1999-2007. “A Timeline of Show Boat, Pinky and Other Tales of Miscegenation.” Creative Commons Copyright License 2.5 BY-NC-SA




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