Quote and Credit

Quote and Credit


Hell's Playground White Cargo and the Socialite who visited Africa Hedy Lamarr Stars in Blackface!

What does this woman have in her hand?  HELL'S PLAYGROUND, her expose of the effect marauding colonialists had on the people of Africa.  Watching the new production of Roots on the box gives me pause…we tortured the ones left over there too, unfortunately.   This is Ida Vera Simonton.  The socialite visited the French colony of Gabon in 1906.  Her "expose" is hardly that, as the entire point of the book was to present the inhabitants as savages, and she tromped through Africa protected by a handful of big white men with big guns. 

It appears her trip was more an excuse to avoid testifying in a murder trial than it was fact-finding.  Her rich family sent her off to try to avoid scandal involving the case of a murdered architect. 

Hell's Playground was published in 1912, and ten years later Broadway producers ripped her off, creating the far better known play White Cargo.  She sued to be compensated.

The later film version starred Hedy Lamar as Tondelayo, a femme-fatale who I guess tempts the fellows…and then murders one or more.  Witchy woman!  They darkened her skin so she could appear African.  The New York Times called her "mahogany" and Hedy became a star!

Watch the trailer.  Then watch the hilarious catchphrase.  What are those natives UP to.
Original Photograph collection Jim Linderman  

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