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Juanita Hall
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    (November 6, 1901-February 28, 1968)
    Born in Keyport, New Jersey
    Birth name was Juanita Long
    Star of musical theatre and comedy
    Attended the Juilliard School of Music in New York City, New York
    Joined the Hall Johnson Choir in the chorus of 'Green Pastures' (1930)
    Directed the Works Progress Administration (WPA) Chorus (1935-44)
    Starred in the radio soap opera 'The Story of Ruby Valentine' in the early 1950s
    Performed in Broadway productions of 'Stevedore' (1934), 'Sailor Beware!' (1934), 'Sweet River' (1936), 'The Pirate' (1942-1943), 'The Secret Room' (1945), 'St. Louis Woman' (1946), 'Mr. Peebles and Mr. Hooker' (1946), 'House of Flowers' (1954-1955), and 'The Ponder Heart' (1956)
    Best known for her portrayals of Bloody Mary and Auntie Liang in the Rodgers & Hammerstein Broadway musicals, 'South Pacific' (1949-54) and 'Flower Drum Song' (1958-60)
    Reprised her work in both roles for the film adaptations of both projects; in 1958 (opposite France Nuyen and John Kerr) and 1961 respectively
    Later performed 'A Woman and the Blues,' a compilation of her assorted nightclub/Broadway acts (1966)
    Signature songs included 'Am I Blue?' 'Lament Over Love,' 'Cool Saturday Night,' 'Happy Talk,' and 'Bali Hai'
    She assembled her own chorus group - 'The Juanita Hall Choir.'
    Her trademark 'Bali Hai' song was a popular Tom Servo reference on episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000.
    She only got to reprise her Auntie Liang role because the original actress slated for the movie, Anna May Wong, unexpectedly died.
    Her only Blues album bills her as 'the original Bloody Mary.'
    Her singing was dubbed for the film version of 'South Pacific.'
    While movie dubbing was nothing unusual back then, Muriel Smith's sweet 'fairy godmother' falsetto bore no resemblance to Hall's own raw, earthy vocalese (one more reason that the film's quality suffered).
    She was an African-American performer whose two signature roles were Pacific Islanders/Asians.
    'South Pacific' director Joshua Logan even mistakenly identified her as Chinese during a majority of filming.
    Her 'Bloody Mary' characterization has attained something of a cult following among movie musical fans, particularly because of such quotable lines as 'stingy bastard!' and 'you no sexy like lieu-tellen!'
    She was raised by her grandparents.
    She was widowed in her twenties.
    She idolized Bessie Smith as a child.
    She later covered several Bessie Smith songs, doing them rare justice in the process.
    She appeared in radio broadcasts with Kate Smith, Rudy Vallee, and the Theatre Guild of the Air.
    She performed as a nightclub singer at the Knickerbocker Music Hall songs written for her by Langston Hughes.
    Many critics claimed that she upstaged co-stars Mary Martin and Ezio Pinza during the stage run of 'South Pacific.'
    She worked out the memorable singularized hand movements for the 'Happy Talk' song (which later became her favorite number to perform).
    Richard Rodgers specifically requested that she reprise her Bloody Mary role for the 'South Pacific' film version (but inexplicably also requested that her singing voice be dubbed over...)
    She became the first African-American to win a Tony Award, in any category, for her role in 'South Pacific' (for which she gave over 1,900 performances).
    The Actors Fund of America staged a benefit performance on her behalf, in 1967, only a year before her death.
    Leonard Feather delivered an emotional tribute after her death, calling her 'an expert student and practitioner in the art of singing the blues.'

Credit: BoyWiththeGreenHair

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