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Louise Beavers

Louise Beavers

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Also Known As: Louise Beaver Died: October 26, 1962
Born: March 8, 1902 Cause of Death: heart attack
Birth Place: Cincinnati, Ohio, USA Profession: Cast ... actor minstrel show singer maid
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BIOGRAPHY

A vivacious and prolific character player, Louise Beavers kept company with the more acclaimed Hattie McDaniel as America's foremost filmic embodiment of a "mammy", a subservient but jovial African-American maid or cook. Like McDaniel, she was heavy-set and fairly dark-skinned; her roles generally presented her as extremely cheerful, loyal (if sometimes less than bright) and distinctly asexual. Her omnipresence in US film from the 1920s through the 50s testifies to the racist stereotypes so central to the history of an entire culture, but it would be far too facile to blame players like Beavers for their involvement in such image-making. After all, typecasting placed particular limits on the roles that blacks could play and, in some sense, Beavers' persona doubtless reflected at least some of the realities of black women's social backgrounds and careers. What is also important is how players like Beavers not only became a likable part of the cultural landscape despite the limitations of their roles, but also how their best work transcends the limitations of stereotyping. Furthermore, Beavers' characters often acted as a comical "Greek chorus" commenting on the antics of her films' white stars. Thus, even if no one intended any subversion, Beavers' presence could hint at the follies of racism within dominant society.

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