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Leigh R. Whipper

Leigh Rollin Whipper (October 29, 1876 – July 26, 1975) was an American actor on the stage and in motion pictures. He was the first African American to join the Actors' Equity Association, and one of the founders of the Negro Actors Guild of America. He is best known for creating the role of Crooks in the original Broadway production of Of Mice and Men, which he reprised in the 1939 film version.

Whipper was the son of African-American educator, author and activist Frances Rollin Whipper and a nephew of abolitionist William Whipper, attorney William J. Whipper. Educated at Howard University Law School, he left in 1895 and never practiced as a lawyer.

Without any dramatic training, Whipper made his acting debut in a Philadelphia stock theater production of Uncle Tom's Cabin in 1899. He made his first Broadway appearance in Georgia Minstrels. His first film role was in the 1920 silent film The Symbol of the Unconquered.

A Portrait of Mr. Whipper entitled "Dans un Café à Paris (Leigh Whipper)" by artist Loïs Mailou Jones, oil on canvas is currently on display at the Brooklyn Museum.[1] Quoted from the museum webpage: "The artist’s portrayal of a pensive Whipper answered Alain Locke’s call for black artists to create ennobling representations of African Americans."[2]

During the Second World War, Whipper was a member of the steering committee of Negro Division the Hollywood Victory Committee.

Birth and Death Data: Born October 29th, 1876 (Charleston), Died July 26th, 1975 (New York City)

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1926

Roles Represented in DAHR: songwriter

Notes: Leigh Rollin Whipper

Recordings

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
OKeh 74310 10-in. 8/23/1926 Look out, Mr. Jazz OKeh Melody Stars ; Clarence Todd Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo songwriter  
OKeh 74311 10-in. 8/23/1926 A glass of beer, a hot dog, and you OKeh Melody Stars ; Clarence Todd Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo songwriter  
OKeh 74335 10-in. 9/5/1926 A glass of beer, a hot dog, and you Sara Martin ; Clarence Williams Female vocal solo, with piano songwriter  
OKeh 74336 10-in. 9/5/1926 Look out, Mr. Jazz Sara Martin ; Clarence Williams Female vocal solo, with piano songwriter  
OKeh 74436 10-in. 12/5/1926 Yes, I've been cheatin' Butterbeans & Susie ; Eddie Heywood Female-male vocal duet, with piano songwriter  

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Whipper, Leigh R.," accessed August 2, 2021, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/109559.

Whipper, Leigh R.. (2021). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved August 2, 2021, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/109559.

"Whipper, Leigh R.." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2021. Web. 2 August 2021.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

URI: https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/109559

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