Saturday, January 6, 2018

Lovely Black Historymaker on TCM

Her name was Hadda Brooks and I first blogged about our Miss Brooks in August 2014.  If you're a true classic film enthusiast, you've probably seen her in one feature starring Humphrey Bogart and another one starring Kirk Douglas.  But you may not have known that she was a trailblazer for African American performers in the early days of television.  Hadda Brooks was a pianist and recording star.  In the late 1940s to early 1950s, she was one of those rare African American women who had the opportunity to look as glamorous as the white actresses in the movies did.  A Southern California native, she grew up in Los Angeles.  She studied classical piano and fell in love with the theater.  After attending the University of Chicago, she retuned home to L.A. and added boogie-woogie to her talents on the keys.  She came to be known as "Queen of the Boogie."  But she also loved playing and singing ballads.
She sings "I Hadn't Anyone Till You" in the drama, IN A LONELY PLACE, starring Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame.

You also see her sing "Temptation" in THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL in nightclub scene with Kirk Douglas and Gilbert Roland.  Roland plays the movie heartthrob who's dancing partner is a blonde babe with a deadpan expression. Her face comes to life when her juicy steak dinner arrives.  Gloria Grahame is also in THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL along with Douglas, Roland and Lana Turner.

Hadda Brooks was a popular L.A. and New York City act.
 And her records were popular.
The celebrated pianist and vocalist Hazel Scott is credited with being the first African American woman to host her own TV show.  Scott had a 15-minute music show that aired on the DuMont Television Network.  THE HAZEL SCOTT SHOW premiered in 1950 in New York City.  That network went off the air in 1956.

Hadda Brooks hosted THE HADDA BROOKS SHOW in her hometown in 1957.  It was a combination music entertainment and talk show that aired on KCOP/Channel 13.  KCOP is still in operation, now broadcasting as My 13.  On THE HADDA BROOKS SHOW, "That's My Desire" was her theme song.  The half-hour show was live on KCOP.  Hadda did 26 episodes.  Hazel Scott's show lasted three months.  All 26 episodes of THE HADDA BROOKS SHOW were repeated in San Francisco on KGO which is now the ABC/Disney channel.  Here's Hadda Brooks singing and playing her TV theme song.
I wonder if KCOP TV in Los Angeles or KGO TV in San Francisco happens to have any episodes of THE HADDA BROOKS SHOW in its archives.

On Sunday, January 7th, TCM host Eddie Muller has a special interview with that fantastic actress, Annette Bening.  Bening plays the late Gloria Grahame in a new film called FILM STARS DON'T DIE IN LIVERPOOL.

TCM will air two classics in a row, both starring Gloria Grahame.  First up is IN A LONELY PLACE followed by THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL, the Vincente Minnelli film that earned Grahame the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.

In both classics, see singer and groundbreaking TV host, Hadda Brooks.  She was also featured in the 1947 comedy, OUT OF THE BLUE and the 1995 Jack Nicholson drama, THE CROSSING GUARD.
The Gloria Grahame -- and Hadda Brooks -- double feature starts Sunday at 8p Eastern on TCM.

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