NINA MAE MCKINNEY – THE BLACK GARBO
(BEARMANOR MEDIA, 2012)
When Nina Mae McKinney (1912-67) took the lead in King Vidor’s classic Hallelujah! (1929) she became Hollywood’s first black movie star. MGM signed her to a contract and the critic Richard Watts Jr described her as “assuredly one of the most beautiful women of our time”, and yet her name is often missing from film histories and encyclopedias. In The Black Garbo Stephen Bourne celebrates the highs and lows of Nina Mae’s life and career, and offers an affectionate portrait of one of Hollywood’s most talented, charismatic, and forgotten stars.
Stephen also covers her successful career in Britain (1933-38) which included a starring role opposite Paul Robeson in Alexander Korda’s controversial film Sanders of the River; and becoming a television pioneer with John Logie Baird and later her own pre-war BBC shows.
“Bourne has done an admirable job, and we should be thankful that he took the time to put this together. He has a solid appreciation of her work, and it’s about time Nina Mae has been given some recognition. Bourne is also good at presenting the racially-charged environment Nina Mae found herself in during her career. The photos are nice...the cover shot is absolutely sensational. I am definitely recommending this book...Bourne knows and loves his subject – it’s obviously a labor of love.”(Laura Wagner, Classic Images)