Evelyn Preer

Evelyn Preer

Infobox actor
name = Evelyn Preer

imagesize = 150px
birthname = Evelyn Jarvis
birthdate = birth date|1896|7|16
birthplace = Vicksburg, Mississippi, United States
deathdate = death date and age|1932|11|27|1896|7|16 (pneumonia)
deathplace = Los Angeles, California, United States
occupation = Actress, singer
spouse = Edward Thompson
(1924-1932) (her death) 1 Child

Eveleyn Preer (July 16, 1896November 27, 1932) was a notable pioneering African-American stage and screen actress and accomplished blues singer of the 1910s through the early 1930s.


Born Evelyn Jarvis in Vicksburg, Mississippi, she migrated with her mother to Chicago when her father died prematurely. Upon completing high school Evelyn began her career in early vaudeville and minstrel shows before beginning her critically lauded professional association with Oscar Micheaux, the African-American film director dubbed the "Father of Afro-American Cinema".

Preer's first film role was in Micheaux's 1919 debut effort "The Homesteader". As his premier leading actress, Micheaux heavily promoted Preer with a steady tour of personal appearances and a publicity campaign. Many of Micheaux's subsequent films were vehicles designed to showcase Preer's extraordinary versatility; Preer was lauded by both the black and white press for her ability to continually succeed in ever more challenging roles and refusing to play roles that she believed demeaned African-Americans. Her most well known role is in her only known surviving Micheaux film appearance, 1919's "Within Our Gates".

In 1920, Evelyn Preer joined The Lafayette Players, a theatrical stock company founded in 1915 by another pioneering stage and film actress Anita Bush, who was known as “The Little Mother of Black Drama.” Bush and her acting troupe brought legitimate theatre to black audiences throughout the U.S. While the troupe was based in Chicago, Preer met her future husband, fellow Lafayette Player Edward Thompson. They married in Nashville, Tennessee in 1924 while on a Southern tour.

In the mid-1920's Evelyn Preer began garnering much attention from the white press and began making a foray into "crossover" films and stage parts. In 1926, she had a successful stint on Broadway in David Belasco’s production of "Lulu Belle". Preer supported and understudied actress Lenore Ulric in the leading role of Edward Sheldon’s steamy drama of a Harlem prostitute. She won further acclaim as Sadie Thompson on the West Coast in a revival of Somerset Maugham’s fallen woman melodrama, "Rain" in 1928.

A 1930 race musical "Georgia Rose", presented Preer in her feature "talkie" debut. In 1931 Preer performed onscreen opposite actress Sylvia Sidney in the film "Ladies of the Big House". Her final film performance was the minor role of a prostitute named Lola in Josef von Sternberg's 1932 film "Blonde Venus", opposite Cary Grant and Marlene Dietrich.

Preer was also an accomplished vocalist and during stints in cabaret and musical theater was occasionally backed by such legendary and diverse musicians as Duke Ellington and Red Nichols.

In April 1932, Preer gave birth to her only child, Edeve Thompson. She developed post-parturition complications and died of double pneumonia on November 27, 1932 in Los Angeles, aged 36.

Her husband, Edward Thompson continued as a popular leading man and heavy in numerous films throughout the 1930s and 1940s and died in 1960.

Evelyn Preer filmography

* "The Homesteader" (1919)
* "Within Our Gates" (1920)
* "The Brute" (1920)
* "The Gunsaulas Mystery" (1921)
* "Deceit" (1923)
* "Birthright" (1924)
* "The Devil's Disciple" (1925)
* "The Conjure Woman" (1926)
* "The Spider's Web" (1926)
* "The Wedding March" (1928) uncredited
* "The Framing of the Shrew" (1928)
* "Melancholy Dame" (1928)
* "Oft in the Silly Night" (1928)
* "Georgia Rose" (1930)
* "Ladies of the Big House" (1931)
* "Blonde Venus" (1932)

External links

* [http://www.angelfire.com/jazz/ninamaemckinney/EvelynPreer.html Evelyn Preer- Our First Lady of the Silver Screen]
* Evelyn Preer at Find A Grave|id=10181147
* [http://www.silentera.com/index.html Silent Era People]
* [http://www.aaregistry.com/ The African American Registry]

NAME= Preer, Evelyn
SHORT DESCRIPTION= Actress, singer
DATE OF BIRTH= 1896-7-16
PLACE OF BIRTH= Vicksburg, Mississippi, United States
DATE OF DEATH= 1932-11-27 (pneumonia)
PLACE OF DEATH= Los Angeles, California, United States

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