Duke Ellington, amid “his 20 suits, 15 shirts, suede shoes and his ever present piano” in his dressing room at the Paramount Theater in New York in September 1946.
Photo Credit: William Gottlieb/Library of Congress
I was scrolling through my Tumblr feed a year or so ago, when I saw a photo of Joyce Bryant. The caption said she was once dubbed the “black Marilyn Monroe” and was mentioned many times in Walter Winchell’s gossip column.
But, I had never heard of or seen Bryant before. It’s reactions like mine that led 42-year-old writer Nichelle Gainer to start a book project showcasing a collection of rarely seen historical photos of actors, educators, writers, students, musicians and more — all African-American.
“I write fiction for the most part, and when I am in libraries doing research … I’ve come across a lot of different interesting articles and photos that you never see anywhere else,” says Gainer, who has written for Woman’s Day, GQ, InStyle, Essence and Honey magazines. ”They’re just locked in these ivory towers, whether it’s an academic institution or a library.”
Gainer, who is still working on her book, decided to share her photo finds and now curates the Vintage Black Glamour Tumblr blog, Facebook page and Pinterest account. Much of what she posts are photos you likely haven’t seen before of stars you may know.