Canada Lee

Actor, Jockey, Boxer
One of the premier black stage actors of the late 1930s and 40s. A former jockey, violinist, orchestra leader and boxer before settling down to acting in 1936, Lee made his debut with the WPA's Federal Theater Project ... Read more »
Born: 03/03/1907 in New York City, New York, USA

Filmography

Actor (2)

Cry, the Beloved Country 1952 (Movie)

Stephen Kumalo (Actor)

Body and Soul 1947 (Movie)

Ben Chaplin (Actor)

Biography

One of the premier black stage actors of the late 1930s and 40s. A former jockey, violinist, orchestra leader and boxer before settling down to acting in 1936, Lee made his debut with the WPA's Federal Theater Project in Harlem, winning acclaim for his performance as Banquo in Orson Welles' all-black "Macbeth" in 1936. He took Broadway by storm with his explosive performance as Bigger Thomas in the legendary stage adaptation of Richard Wright's "Native Son" in 1944. In his Hollywood debut, Alfred Hitchcock's "Lifeboat" (1944), Lee won notice for the quiet authority and intelligence of his heroic ship's steward.

Relationships

Carl Lee

Son
co-wrote screenplay for Shirley Clarke's "The Cool World" (1963)

Milestones

1952

Underwent a sympathectomy (surgical interruption of sympathetic nerve pathways) to relieve high blood pressure

1950

Sole TV appearance on "Tele Theatre"'s "The Final Bell"

1947

Signed with Enterprise films

1946

Starred in white-face on Broadway in "The Duchess of Malfi"

1943

Film debut in "Lifeboat"

1940

Starred on Broadway in Orson Welles' production of Richard Wright's "Native Son"

1940

Charged with larceny for alledgedly trying to sell an automobile that he had not made a payment on just as he was about to embark on national tour of "Native Son"; Welles's lawyer Arnold Weissberger kept him from prison after a protracted court battle

1936

Joined the WPA's Federal Theater Project in Harlem

1936

First stage performance as Banquo in Orson Welles's all-black "Macbeth"

Grew up in Harlem, friends with Adam Clayton Powell

Changed name to Canada Lee

SIMILAR ARTICLES