Friday, July 9, 2010

Little Known Actors - Theresa Harris

Theresa Harris (1906 - 1985) was an African American actress who starred in a number of supporting and or uncredited roles in films between 1929 and 1958. Born in Houston, Texas on New Years Eve 1906; the daughter of Isaiah (1879 - 1956) and Mable (1883 - 1964) Harris who were former sharecroppers in Louisianna; growing up she was raised as a Methodist and had originally wanted to become a singer from having listened to the voices of Louis Armstrong and Ethel Waters in the 1920s.

In 1929, she came out to Hollywood and lent her singing voice to an early talkie entitled Thunderbolt and from there her career took off. In the 1930s she was a free-lance actress and moved around between Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Warner Bros. Studios. Her roles, a large percent of them uncredited, consisted of her playing blues singers, hat-check girls, maids, waitresses, tribal women, prostitutes, and, most particurally, maids.

Some of the notable actresses that she played a servant to included Joan Blondell, Ginger Rogers, Frances Dee, Barbara Stanwyck, Myrna Loy, Jean Harlow, Katharine Hepburn, Bette Davis, Marlene Dietrich, and Kay Francis. She felt that Hollywood would someday give her the chance to play a real role but unfortunatley due to the racial prejudice and steryotypes of the time that thought never transpired into a reality.

In 1933, she married a well to do African American doctor named Joe Robinson and they were happily married until his death in 1964. Theresa made her last screen apperance in another uncredited role in 1958's The Gift of Love and upon the film's completion she retired from acting all together. She lived a comfortable remainder of her life having invested in movies and on October 8, 1985 Theresa Harris died from natural causes at her home in Inglewood, California. By her request she was interred at the Angelus Rosedale Cemetery in Los Angeles, CA.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful and under credited actress. Beautiful lady. I had noticed her is many A movies from the 1930's and wondered who she was. Thank you for the info.