April 27, 2003 |
Of all the great American stories of reinvention and rags to riches, none is more unlikely than that of Madam C.J. Walker. Born Sarah Breedlove to freed slaves sharecropping a dismal patch in Louisiana just after the Civil War, she was orphaned at 7 and spent the next three decades eking out a living as a washerwoman and domestic servant.
May 18, 2003 |
Of all the disciplines of writing, biography is commonly regarded as the most black and white. What is there to interpret in the records of a lifetime? How can conjecture arise out of fact? Such an impression is only heightened by the intimidating size of so many biographies, their bibliographies and citations, their weight and heft.
June 24, 2000
While I was pleased that The Times featured the Mark Taper Forum's Blacksmyths reading series as an activity ("Itinerary: Juneteenth," by Robin Rauzi, June 15), I was disheartened to see that I was not credited as the author of "The Mahogany Millionaire: The Life and Times of Madame C.J. Walker." While all the other playwrights in the series were mentioned with their plays, my name was conspicuously absent. I have spent lots of time and energy crafting my play, and feel I deserve to receive credit when it is featured, promoted or advertised.
November 8, 1998 |
Eighty years ago, America's first self-made black millionaire built a splendid 34-room mansion to show young blacks what one woman could do and "inspire them to do big things." The house, named Villa Lewaro by Enrico Caruso, became a meeting place for black leaders and entertainers. But Madam C.J. Walker lived there barely a year, dying in 1919 in the master bedroom. When her daughter died, the house had to be sold in 1933 for the Depression-era figure of $47,500.
February 15, 1999 |
Madam C.J. Walker is the answer to a lot of trivia questions: Who was the first self-made woman millionaire? Who was one of the first to form a network of cosmetics saleswomen? In this 80th anniversary year of her death, Walker is still making news. Last year, the cosmetics giant's portrait appeared on a commemorative stamp. This month, Home and Garden TV will feature her mansion. And next year, Scribner will publish a biography of Walker and her illustrious daughter, A'Lelia Walker Robinson.
April 28, 1994 |
Alex Haley's widow has won a share of his estate and the right to complete his two unfinished books. "It's a glorious day, is what it is," Myran Haley said after the verdict Tuesday. The completion of both works would be "a dream come true," she added. Haley, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "Roots: The Saga of an American Family," died in 1992 at age 70.