Magazine article Black Masks

In Memoriam: Gertrude Jeannette

Magazine article Black Masks

In Memoriam: Gertrude Jeannette

Article excerpt

Anyone in need of a role model for a daring, courageous life would not go too wrong emulating the magnificent Gertrude Jeannette, founder and artistic director of the H.A.D.L.E.Y. Players. Born in Urbana, Arkansas on November 28, 1914, this plucky and determined young woman married a handsome heavyweight boxer, Joe Jeannette, despite her father's aspirations for her to attend Fisk University. When the couple arrived in New York City in 1934, fully in the midst of the Great Depression, she joined FDR's Work Project Administration working as a typist and a bookkeeper. She also became the first woman in New York to be licensed to drive a Harley-Davidson motorcycle and in 1942, became the first woman to obtain a hack license to drive a taxicab.

She suffered a speech impediment that caused her to stutter, which led her to take speech classes at the American Negro Theatre. …

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