Author, film historian and educator Donald Bogle has written numerous books on African Americans in cinema, including “Dorothy Dandridge: A Biography,” “Toms, Coons, Mulattos, Mammies and Bucks: An Interpretive History of Blacks in American Film,” and “Bright Boulevards, Bold Dreams: The Story of Black Hollywood.”
On Tuesday, July 23, 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. Bogle comes to South Jazz Kitchen, 600 N. Broad St., to sign copies of his latest book, “Hollywood Black: The Stars, The Films and the Filmmakers.”
The free literary event, sponsored by The Philadelphia Tribune and The Literary, will feature an interview with Bogle by Solomon Jones of WURD 96.1 FM/900 AM. The book will be available for purchase. To attend, RSVP at email@example.com.
“Hollywood Black: The Stars, The Films and the Filmmakers” is the ninth book by Bogle, who is immersed in the world of cinema. Serving as a lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania, he teaches a seminar titled “African-American Images in Movie and Television,” and is an adjunct professor at New York University, where he instructs a class titled “Film Story Analysis.”
“I’ve written nine books and I’ve edited three,” Bogle said in an exclusive interview with The Philadelphia Tribune, and also explained the inspiration of his latest volume.
“Turner Classic Movies shows old films, uncut, often restored — beautiful prints,” he said, “And in the evenings and on weekends, they have introductions to each film. I’ve been on Turner Classic Movies a number of times, and the first time I did it, some years ago now, I did a series for them called ‘Race in Hollywood,’ and we showed all of these films. I was on with Robert Osborne, who was the main host, and we co-hosted. It ended up being an award-winning series, so I did other things for them, and then they contacted me and asked me was I interested in doing a book for them, and if I was, what would I like to do? Turner Classic Movies has their own line of film books. So I came up with the idea to do this.
“I have covered this material in other books, but this was going to be a book where I was going to gather these visuals — things that in some cases, haven’t been published, or not published in recent years. That’s what I wanted to do — a very visual book, but with a strong text. You know, it’s something when you see a picture of Hattie McDaniel, or you see a picture of the young Sidney Poitier. So that’s what I wanted to do, to have a book that was visual, but a very important text, and to come up to the present. I said that’s what I wanted, and they said, ‘Let’s go.’”
A treasure trove of fascinating history, captivating anecdotes, and breathtaking photos, a poignant feature of “Hollywood Black” is that the foreword was written by Oscar-nominated writer/director John Singleton (“Boyz n the Hood,” “Baby Boy,” “Rosewood”), who died April 29.
“I knew John Singleton. I didn’t really know him well, but we were sort of friends, and I had interviewed him about three years ago, I guess, for Turner Classic Movies,” Bogle said. “They have a big film festival in Los Angeles every year, and I interviewed him for that. He just praised my work, and said how important it had been to him, and so forth.
“So when this book was really done, they asked me who I might want to do a foreword for it. I actually gave them a list of five people, and John’s name was the second on the list. He’s who I wanted, but I put his name second, and he’s the only person they contacted. They said they wanted him.”
While it took some time for Bogle and Singleton to connect, the respected director, who was inducted onto the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2003, was quite enthusiastic about contributing to the book.
“He said he would do it, and actually, he’d started to work on it,” Bogle explained. “He was very aware of deadlines, and he told me, “I’ll send you the beginning of what I’m doing, and he sent it right away. Then, it was funny, ‘cause it was just like a director. He said, ‘Read it over, and start editing!’ The great thing about him, among other things, was that he not only liked making movies, but he liked seeing movies, and you can get that in his foreword.”
Bogle, a Philadelphia native, looks forward to returning to his hometown to share his passion for cinema general and Black cinema in particular.
“I want them to know that we have a long history in the movies,” he said in conclusion. “In a way, we’ve been erased from movies, and to set the record straight, that we’ve had filmmakers and actors and actresses working from the early years of Hollywood, right up to the present.”