|Femmes Fatales||Mar 22 2012|
These photos of American actress Nina Mae McKinney certainly capture her beauty, even if they don’t quite capture her complexion. McKinney was actually paler than seen here, however her part black ancestry of course made her an all black actress, a designation that severely limited her commercial prospects. But thanks to her good looks—and quite a bit of talent—she became a star anyway. In Europe, she was even known as the black Garbo.
There’s not a ton of material out there on McKinney, but when we saw these photos we had to share them because we’d seen her in both the pre-blaxploitation adventure Sanders of the River, and in her debut role in Hallelujah! In the latter she plays a woman so gloriously wicked that the term femme fatale is inadequate to describe her.
She’s dressed up here as her character in that movie, and the fact that’s she’s wearing dice on her chest that show the number seven should be a warning to men that gettting involved with her is a bad gamble. But of course, bad women are irresistible, and in fact, McKinney is such a siren in Hallelujah! that she completely wrecks the leading man’s life not once, but twice. The movie came out in 1929, and that’s the year on these shots. If you’re curious, you can see McKinney performing a song with Eubie Blake here.