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Paul Robeson

Biography

Paul Robeson excelled seeing that an athlete, professional, vocalist, and activist, qualifying him being a modern renaissance guy. His early achievements as a specialist football participant, Columbia law college graduate, and an professional on Broadway within the 1920s appeared but a prologue to sustained achievements to arrive. Involvement using the politics left within the 1940s, nevertheless, resulted in a confrontation with the home of Un-American Actions Committee (HUAC) in the past due 1940s. He was blacklisted, his passport was revoked, and his profession found a halt. Robeson was created on Apr 9, 1898 in Princeton, NJ. His father have been a runaway slave who became a Methodist minister, and his mom passed away from a stove-fire incident when he was six. At age 17, Robeson became the 3rd BLACK to enter Rutgers University (now College or university) where he produced All-American in soccer and lettered in four varsity sports activities. Several achievements were non-etheless overshadowed by racism: his teammates frequently harassed him and he was barred through the school’s glee membership. After Rutgers, he performed professional football for the weekends to aid his research in rules at Columbia College or university. Pursuing graduation he attained work at a fresh York lawyer, but quit whenever a stenographer refused to duplicate a memo, informing him, “I by no means consider diction from a nigger.” Since Robeson currently had encounter in theatre, his wife, Eslanda Cardozo Goode, motivated him to go after performing. In 1922 he made an appearance on Broadway, playing Jim in Jim H. Harris’ Taboo, and journeyed to Britain where he modified the function. He became a member of Eugene O’Neill’s Greenwich Community Provincetown Players on his come back, and appeared in every God’s Chillun Got Wings. He also earned important acclaim for his starring function within the Emperor Jones in 1925. Robeson toured Britain and america over the following three years, putting your signature on dark spirituals and developing a sensation along with his function as Joe in Showboat. For another a decade, Robeson lived overseas, preventing the simmering racial issues in america. He made an appearance in Othello as well as the Hairy Ape, toured European countries, and even stopped at Russia, where he was well-received. In the past due 1930s he also reexamined his unaggressive stance toward politics issues. After performing for the competitors of Franco in Spain, he embraced communism and made a decision to go back to America to battle racism. Stateside, Robeson busied himself with protesting against lynching, picketing the White colored Home, and refusing to execute for segregated viewers. Despite having his awakened desire for politics, Robeson managed a busy performing and singing routine in the first 1940s, 1st appearing inside a radio overall performance of Ballad for People in america and later within the 1st American edition of Othello to add an BLACK in the business lead part. His controversial politics positions, including an indicator that blacks should won’t battle if america went to battle with Russia, quickly triggered repercussions. When showing up before HUAC, the Committee asked him why he didn’t relocate to Russia. He replied: “Because my dad was a slave, and my people passed away to create this nation, and I will stay the following and have an integral part of it like everyone else.” The U.S. STATE DEPT. revoked Robeson’s passport in 1950, which designed he would be required to remain in america, where he was blacklisted. When he finished his autobiography in 1958, also the brand new York Moments and the brand new York Herald-Tribune decided to go with never to review it. After his passport was reinstated in 1958, he journeyed once more to Britain and Russia, where he continued to be popular. Pursuing stage function in European countries and Australia, Robeson came back to america in 1963 because of declining wellness. Isolated from many previous friends and followers, Robeson attemptedto commit suicide double. He also experienced several breakdowns and became reliant on psychotropic medications. It had been ironic to numerous that through the entire ’60s and ’70s, as African Us citizens began to positively combat for racial equality in america, Robeson, an outspoken advocate of the issues, continued to be withdrawn and on the sidelines. Us citizens, nevertheless, didn’t ignore him. On Apr 15, 1973, admirers collected at New York’s Carnegie Hall to celebrate his 75th birthday. Robeson was accepted to Presbyterian College or university Medical center in Philadelphia on Dec 28, 1975 carrying out a massive heart stroke. He passed away on January 23, 1976.

Quick Facts


Full Name Paul Robeson
Died January 23, 1976, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Height 1.91 m
Weight 99 kg
Profession Actor, Lawyer, Football player, Singer, Social activist
Education Columbia Law School, Rutgers University, Somerville High School, Columbia University
Nationality American
Spouse Eslanda Goode Robeson
Children Paul Robeson Jr.
Parents William Drew Robeson I, Maria Louisa Bustill
Siblings Marian Robeson, Benjamin Robeson, Reeve Robeson, William Drew Robeson Jr.
Awards Grammy Hall of Fame, Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, NAACP Image Award – Hall of Fame Award
Music Songs Ol' Man River, Swing Low Sweet Chariot, Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child, Joshua Fit De' Battle Of Jericho, Go Down Moses, Curly Headed Baby, It Ain't Necessarily So, Canoe Song, Land Of My Fathers, We Are Climbing Jacob's Ladder, Anthem of the USSR, Songs My Mother Taught Me, Joe Hill, On My Journey, I Still Suits Me, Carry Me Back To Green Pastures, Congo Lullaby, Ol’ Man River, Killing Song, The House I Live In, Balm in Gilead, Scandalize My Name, All God's Chillun Got Wings, Poor Old Joe, Water Boy, Mah Lindy Lou, Little Man You'Ve Had A Busy Day, Roll, Away Clouds, Star Vicino, Were You There When They Crucified My Lord, Oh No John, Lazy Bones
Albums Songs of Free Men, The Glorious Voice, Songs of Struggle (& more), The Peace Arch Concerts, Live at Carnegie Hall, Live At Carnegie Hall, 1958, The Legendary Moscow Concert, On My Journey: Paul Robeson's Independent Recordings, Das andere Amerika, The Originals - Spirituals, Ol Man River The Ultimate Collection, Black Historian, An Evening With, "Greatest Rarities" Archive '56-'57, Songs from Around the World, Songs of My People, The Ultimate Collection, So Shy, The Incomparable Voice Of Paul Robeson, Ledgends of Music Collection, At Carnegie Hall, Paul Robeson: Black Historian, Vol. 2, I Hear The Trumpet Sound, Gold, My Journey: Paul Robeson Live at Carnegie Hall, Paul Robeson Sings Negro Spirituals, Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, Going Home, Paul Robeson: Symposium, A Man for All Seasons: 16 Concert Classics, The Odyssey of Paul Robeson, Golden Oldies, Absent, Spirituals, The Booming Voice Of Paul Robeson, Show Boat, A B.B.C. Home Service programme broadcast on Sunday 4 October, 1959, Paul Robeson chante (Mono Version), The Man They Couldn't Silence, Paul Robeson Classical, Sings 20 Favourite Songs/Transatlantic Exchange Concert, Paul Robeson: The Complete EMI Sessions 1928-1939, Blue Prelude, Chants de la liberté (Mono Version), Paul Robeson, Paul Robeson - Live At The Royal Albert Hall And A.m.e Zion Church New York, The Voice of the Mississippi, American Baladeer, The Voice, Spolianksy: A Musical Portrait, Live In New York
Movies The Proud Valley, The Emperor Jones, Sanders of the River, Body and Soul, Song of Freedom, Tales of Manhattan, King Solomon's Mines, Big Fella, Show Boat, Native Land, Borderline, Camille, The Song of the Rivers, My Song Goes Forth


  • Facts
  • Filmography
  • Awards
  • Salaries
  • Quotes
  • Trademarks
  • Pictures

#Fact
1 [Elisabeth Welch on co-star Paul Robeson]: There were no lines he objected to in "Song of Freedom." In later years he was very nasty in that film "Sanders of the River." He said they had tricked him into that. I don't know how or why. That's his comment, but I have no evidence of it. He was a lovely man. We discussed politics naturally, but I'm not politically minded although I follow. And I have my own theories. He said you've got to be a citizen of the world because of this... (she points to the color of her skin.} I said I've got so many bloods in me, I'm part of the world. I don't stand up for one or the other, only for what's right... for decency. He wanted to convert me, but he was very gentle about it. I'll take anybody's arguments if they have a sense of humor with it. And, of course, he laughed so easily. We became great friends. I loved him, and he always came to see me when I was playing.
2 Played professional Football for the Akron Pros and Milwaukee Badgers.
3 He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa.
4 He was captain of the Rutgers debating team.
5 Was investigated by the California Senate's Fact Finding Committee on Un-American Activities (colloquially known as the "Tenney Committee" after Committee Chairman Jack Tenney). The Tenney Committee investigated alleged communists in California.
6 Although he did give a few interviews on television, he never played any dramatic or musical roles in that medium.
7 Attempted suicide at a party in 1961. His son Paul Robeson Jr. believes his father had been drugged by the CIA.
8 Nearly died from double pneumonia and a blocked kidney in 1965.
9 His father was William Drew Robeson, a minister. His mother was Maria Louisa Bustill (? - 1904).
10 He was elected into the 2008 New Jersey Hall of Fame for his contributions to History.
11 Portrayed by James Earl Jones in a 1976 theatre production about his life. Jones sang in the production, despite the fact that he does not possess a real "singer's voice". This one-man show was eventually telecast on PBS.
12 Appeared in a World War II-era U.S. Government War Department propaganda film aimed at combating the spread of venereal diseases among black soldiers. The film was called "Easy to Get" (serial number T.F.8 1423), and Robeson appears at the end in his capacity as a celebrity football star and singer to advise viewers to stay "clean.".
13 Portrayed by Avery Brooks in a 1982 revival of the 1976 theater production about his life.
14 In December 1937 he sang a whole night for Spanish Republican troops fighting to take the town of Teruel.
15 He was awarded the 1953 Stalin Peace Prize by the Soviet government. He was the last one to receive it before it was renamed the Lenin Peace Prize a few years later.
16 Robeson made only one stereo recording, a two volume set of his historic 1958 Carnegie Hall recital - his only appearance there. Unfortunately, the albums made from this occasion turned out to be his last. The Carnegie Hall concert has since been issued on CD, and shows him in remarkably good voice for a sixty year old singer.
17 The subject of the World/Inferno Friendship Society song, "Paul Robeson". Contains the rousing chorus "Speak Up/Black Out/Black Listed/Full bodied - red".
18 Was the subject of the song "Paul Robeson (Born To Be Free)" by the Celtic rock group, Black 47.
19 Member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
20 Although he changed the lyrics of "Ol' Man River" in 1938 to reflect his own personal and political views, and although the recordings he made of the song after 1938 use those altered lyrics, Robeson always sang the song as originally written by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II in the stage productions of "Show Boat" in which he appeared, as well as in the 1936 film version (with the exception of the word 'niggers", which, in the film, was changed to "darkies").
21 In its time, the Robeson "Othello" could not have been filmed because of the racial climate of the era - a black man could not play a love scene with a white woman in a motion picture in the 1940s. In addition, Robeson was blacklisted for his political beliefs in 1950, and as a result, was not able to make any films in the U.S., or have any of his films shown in the U.S. at that time.
22 The 1943 Broadway production of "Othello", in which Robeson starred is, to this day, the longest-running non-musical production of a Shakespeare play ever to be staged in the United States, due almost entirely to Robeson's enormous popularity at the time. "Kiss Me Kate", inspired by "The Taming of the Shrew", "West Side Story", inspired by "Romeo and Juliet", and the musical version of "Two Gentlemen of Verona", based on Shakespeare's comedy of the same name, all ran longer, but the 1943 "Othello",a "straight" production of the play, ran for nine months at the same theatre, and then went on a highly successful U.S. tour.
23 Pictured on a 37¢ USA commemorative postage stamp in the Black Heritage series, issued 20 January 2004.
24 Subject of 2001 Manic Street Preachers single 'Let Robeson Sing' (from the album Know Your Enemy)
25 Has a black tomato variety named after him, allegedly named so by its Russian growers because he was extremely well liked in that country. (source: tomatofest.com)
26 In stage productions he acted William Shakespeare's "Othello" as it was written, but when he performed Othello's final speech at his concert recitals, he changed the famous phrase "one that lov'd not wisely, but too well" to "one that lov'd full wisely, but too well".
27 Was able to speak and write in over 20 languages.
28 According to the biography written by his son, Paul Robeson Jr., he had a long-term extramarital relationship with Fredi Washington. They appeared in one film together, The Emperor Jones (1933).
29 In 1942, said he wouldn't make any more films until there were better roles for blacks.
30 Robeson was the first black person to play football for Rutgers University.
31 Robeson was only the third black person to attend Rutgers University, the state university of New Jersey.
32 Robeson was twice Named All-American Football Player for Rutgers at End, in 1917 and 1918.
33 Inducted into the National College Football Hall of Fame.
34 Inducted into the Rutgers Football Hall of Fame.
35 Elected to Phi Beta Kappa at Rutgers in 1919.
36 Graduate of Columbia University School of Law.
37 Played football professionally for three years in the APFL (American Professional Football League) 1920-1922.
38 Elected Valedictorian of his senior class at Rutgers, 1919.
39 The role of Joe, the deckhand, in Jerome Kern's and Oscar Hammerstein II's "Show Boat" was written for him, but because of schedule conflicts and Florenz Ziegfeld Jr.'s delay in putting on the show, he was unable to star in the first stage production and played the role in London five months later. He sang "Ol' Man River" in the show, and made the second ever recording of the song ever in 1928 (Bing Crosby did the first), the same year he starred in the show. He became so identified with it that he starred in three more productions of "Show Boat": the 1932 New York revival, the 1936 film version and a 1940 Los Angeles stage production. Although he continued singing "Ol' Man River" in every one of his solo recitals, and made at least two more recordings of the song, he began changing the lyrics after 1938 to reflect his more racially conscious views.
40 In 1952 and 1953 he sang in defiance of the U.S. government in what is now called "The Peace Arch Concerts." These concerts, attended by over 40,000 people, are now available on CD and feature Robeson's only political speeches on record along with his signature song, "Old Man River."
41 In 1925, he sang the first concert recital consisting solely of black spirituals, at the Greenwich Village Theatre in New York.


Soundtrack

Soundtrack

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Indignation 2016 performer: "Chee Lai March of the Volunteers"
Pride 2014/I performer: "Drink To Me Only With Thine Eyes"
Timeshift 2013 TV Series documentary performer - 1 episode
The House I Live In 2012 Documentary performer: "THE HOUSE I LIVE IN"
War on Terror 2011 Documentary performer: "Danny Boy Londonderry Air"
Sing Your Song 2011 Documentary performer: "Ol' Man River"
Johnny Mercer: The Dream's on Me 2009 TV Movie documentary performer: "My Old Kentucky Home, Good-Night", "Ol' Man River"
Jonathan Meades - Magnetic North 2008 TV Series documentary performer - 1 episode
Profit Motive and the Whispering Wind 2007 Documentary performer: "Joe Hill"
AFI's 100 Years... 100 Songs: America's Greatest Music in the Movies 2004 TV Movie documentary performer: "Ol' Man River"
Killer of Sheep 1978 performer: "My Curly Headed Baby", "The House I Live in", "Going Home"
Brother Can You Spare a Dime 1975 Documentary performer: "Water Boy" - uncredited
Rencontres de septembre 1961 Documentary short performer: "Ol' Man River"
Tales of Manhattan 1942 performer: "Glory Day" - uncredited
Canciones de Madrid 1938 Documentary short performer: "La Internacional" The Internationale, "La Joven Guardia"
Dark Sands 1937 performer: "My Way", "Deep Desert", "Shortnin' Bread" uncredited, "Silent Night" uncredited
King Solomon's Mines 1937 performer: "Walk! Walk!", "Climbin' Up", "Kukuwana"
Big Fella 1937 performer: "Lazin'", "When I Get to Heaven", "Roll Up Sailorman", "Ma Curly Headed Baby", "River Steals My Folks from Me"
Song of Freedom 1936 "Lonely Road", "Song of Freedom" / performer: "Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho" uncredited, "Sleepy River", "Lonely Road", "Stepping Stones", "Song of Freedom", "The Black Emperor"
Show Boat 1936 performer: "Ol' Man River" 1927, "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man" 1927, "Ah Still Suits Me" 1936, "Finale: You Are Love" 1927 and "Ol' Man River" 1927 - uncredited
Sanders of the River 1935 performer: "The Song of the Spear", "Lion Song", "My Little Black Dove"
The Emperor Jones 1933 performer: "Now Let Me Fly", "Water Boy", "I'm Travelin'", "Daniel" - uncredited

Actor

Actor

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Tales of Manhattan 1942 Luke
Native Land 1942 Narrator / Vocalist (voice)
The Proud Valley 1940 David
Dark Sands 1937 Cpl. Jericho Jackson
King Solomon's Mines 1937 Umbopa
Big Fella 1937 Joe
Song of Freedom 1936 John 'Johnny' Zinga
Show Boat 1936 Joe
Sanders of the River 1935 Bosambo
The Emperor Jones 1933 Brutus Jones
Borderline 1930 Pete - a Negro
Camille 1926/II Short Alexandre Dumas fils
Body and Soul 1925 Rev. Isaiah T. Jenkins His Brother Sylvester

Thanks

Thanks

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Frankenpimp's Revenge: The Romeo and Juliet Massacre special thanks filming
The Last White Knight 2012 Documentary in memory of

Self

Self

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Charlie Rose 1999 TV Series Himself - Guest
Spectacular 1960 TV Series Himself-host
Unser Sandmännchen 1959 TV Series Himself
Monitor 1959 TV Series documentary Himself / Othello
Val Parnell's Sunday Night at the London Palladium 1958 TV Series Himself - Top Of The Bill
Das Lied der Ströme 1954 Documentary Voice of Singer
Canciones de Madrid 1938 Documentary short

Archive Footage

Archive Footage

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Pappano's Classical Voices 2015 TV Series documentary Himself
Timeshift 2013 TV Series documentary Himself - Singer
Democracy Now! 2002-2013 TV Series Himself
Out of My Dreams: Oscar Hammerstein II 2012 TV Movie documentary Joe
Sing Your Song 2011 Documentary Himself (uncredited)
Johnny Mercer: The Dream's on Me 2009 TV Movie documentary Himself
Pete Seeger: The Power of Song 2007 Documentary Himself
Brush with Life: The Art of Being Edward Biberman 2007 Documentary Himself
Our Paul: Remembering Paul Robeson 2007 Video Himself
Broadway: The American Musical 2004 TV Mini-Series documentary Joe
La neuvième 2004 TV Movie documentary Himself (uncredited)
AFI's 100 Years... 100 Songs: America's Greatest Music in the Movies 2004 TV Movie documentary Joe
The South Bank Show 2004 TV Series documentary Othello
TV in Black: The First Fifty Years 2004 Video documentary
Great Performances 2003 TV Series Himself
Freedom Highway: Songs that Shaped a Century 2001 Documentary Himself
American Masters 1999 TV Series documentary Himself
Scandalize My Name: Stories from the Blacklist 1998 Documentary Himself
Small Steps, Big Strides: The Black Experience in Hollywood 1998 TV Movie documentary Himself
Cold War 1998 TV Mini-Series documentary Himself
The Universal Story 1995 TV Movie documentary Joe (in 1936 'Show Boat')
Bolshoi kontsert narodov, ili Dykhanie chein-stoksa 1991 Documentary Himself (speaking in Russian) (uncredited)
That's Black Entertainment 1990 Documentary Himself
The Show Boat Story 1989 TV Movie documentary Joe (clip from 1936 film of 'Show Boat') (uncredited)
Musical Comedy Tonight III 1985 TV Movie Joe
Paul Robeson: Tribute to an Artist 1979 Documentary short Himself
Brother Can You Spare a Dime 1975 Documentary
Black Shadows on the Silver Screen 1975 TV Movie documentary Himself (uncredited)
The All Talking, All Singing, All Dancing Show 1973 TV Movie Joe
Film Night 1971 TV Series Himself
Land of Liberty 1939 Joe (edited from: Show Boat)

Won awards

Won awards

YearAwardCeremonyNominationMovieAward shared with
1978 Star on the Walk of Fame Walk of Fame Motion Picture On 9 April 1978 at 6660 Hollywood Blvd.
1972 Image Award Image Awards Special Award For his "eminence as an artist and a fighter for human justice."

TitleSalary
The Emperor Jones (1933) $15,000
Body and Soul (1925) $100 /week+3% of gross over $40,000

#Quote
1 I shall take my voice wherever there are those who want to hear the melody of freedom or the words that might inspire hope and courage in the face of fear. My weapons are peaceful, for it is only by peace that peace can be attained. The song of freedom must prevail.

#Trademark
1 Powerful bass singing voice
2 The song "Ol' Man River"

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