Fredi Washington collection

Formal studio portraits and informal amateur snapshots document the life of Fredi Washington, including portraits of Fredi as a girl, a young woman, and an elderly woman. In some portraits she appears with her sister Isabel or her husband H. Anthony Bell. Most photographs include African-American women, men, or children. Several show men and women in bathing suits on a beach. Some document Fredi's travels in Europe and Haiti. One photograph shows a chorus line of dancers. Several photographs appear to show the interior and exterior of the Bells' house in Greenwich. From "WNPR" Post by CHS Fredericka Carolyn “Fredi” Washington was born in Savannah, Georgia, in 1903 and died in Stamford, Connecticut, in 1994. Fredi began her career as a dancer at the Cotton Club in Harlem during the 1920s. She appeared in Black and Tan, a short film featuring Duke Ellington and his orchestra, in 1929 and went on to a career in motion pictures. She is most famous for her portrayal of Peola in Imitation of Life (1934). Peola, a light-skinned young African American woman, chooses to pass as white in order to escape racial discrimination. Fredi Washington and her husband, Dr. Hugh Anthony Bell. Fredi helped found the Negro Actors Guild of America in 1937 and served as Entertainment Editor of the People’s Voice, established in 1942 by Adam Clayton Powell Jr., who married Fredi’s sister. Fredi was also active in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). She played opposite the great African American actor Paul Robeson on several occasions, most notably in the film version of The Emperor Jones in 1933, but also in a 1926 production of Black Boy at the Stamford Theater. Fredi’s first husband was Lawrence Brown, a trombonist in Duke Ellington’s orchestra. After they divorced in 1951, she married a Stamford dentist, Hugh Anthony Bell, and moved to suburban Greenwich. Bell died in 1970. In 1975, Fredi was inducted into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame; in 1979, she received a CIRCA Award for lifetime achievement in the performing arts. She was 90 years old when she died of pneumonia in 1994.
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