FREDI WASHINGTON

Bold signature and inscription, “To Jon/With all good wishes/Sincerely/Fredi Washington,” in fine-point black felt tip ink on a 6×4 white index card.  Very fine condition.  A pencil notation n the reverse side indicates that this signature was obtained in person in March 1972. John Verzi collection.  Pioneering African-American actress Fredi Washington is best remembered as Peola, the light-skinned daughter of Louise Beavers in the classic 1934 weepie, Imitation of Life. Following her initial 1932 screen appearance in a little-seen Duke Ellington short, studio heads encouraged Washington to “pass” as white, offering her the prospect of a brilliant film career. Washington refused and, consequently, was able to find only one more role in Hollywood after Imitation of Life, again in a “tragic mulatto” role in 1937. Disgusted with Hollywood, she returned to Harlem to concentrate on theater and activism, becoming head of the Negro Actors Guild.

$35