Opinions & Features June 15, 2019 at 12:00 pm

7 black people who made monumental Hollywood history

Etsey Atisu June 15, 2019 at 12:00 pm

June 15, 2019 at 12:00 pm | Opinions & Features

In Hollywood, records are broken everyday. In fact, there are several other records that only history can outlive.

Here are a few black people who stepped into Hollywood and made first appearance records.

Whoopi Goldberg

1990: Whoopi Goldberg made her mark as a household name and a mainstay in Hollywood for her Oscar-winning role in the box office smash Ghost. (Rex Features)

Whoopi is a reigning history maker for her acting roles in over 150 films and for being the first African American to have won an Emmy (2002), a Grammy (1985), an Oscar (1990), and a Tony Award (2002) (EGOT). Only 12 people in total have been able to accomplish this, with the latest achievement being listed in 2014.

Ethel Waters

Photo: The Billy Graham Library

Actress and singer Ethel Waters was the first African American to star in her own television show, ‘The Ethel Waters Show’, in 1939. Although she got a start to entertainment in the 1920s singing blues, it was her 1962 Emmy nomination that helped her make history. Also, she was the first Black woman to ever be nominated for the award.

Bill Cosby

Bill Cosby/Billboard

Bill Cosby first starred as Alexander “Scotty” Scott, making history as the first Black actor to have a leading role in a television series titled ‘I Spy’. The one-hour drama adventure series, which was Cosby’s first television role, ran for three seasons on NBC and earned him three Primetime Emmy Awards from 1966 to 1968.

Hattie McDaniel

Hattie McDaniel/Film-Niche

Actress, singer and comedian, Hattie McDaniel became the first Black person to be nominated and to win an Oscar during the 12th Annual Academy Awards in 1940 for her role in ‘Gone with the Wind’, the televised event was nothing but a predecessor for all the Black magic to come. Names such as Sidney Poitier, Halle Berry and Denzel Washington are mentioned often for winning the Oscars but Hattie remains one of the few black people to achieve such a great feat in Holywood.

Nat King Cole

Nat King Cole/BBC

Nat King Cole’s record of being the first African-American to have a nationwide show surpassed that of Ethel Waters, who was the first African American to star in her own television show. The variety program, which was aptly titled ‘The Nat ‘King’ Cole Show’, debuted on NBC in 1956, but was unfortunately canceled a short year later due to lack of sponsorship.

Fat Albert

Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids by comedian Bill Cosby/YouTube

Having done only less than ten active years in the industry, comedian Bill Cosby makes Black history again as he created, produced, hosted and starred in the first cartoon with an all Black cast, ‘Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids’.

The cartoon, based on Cosby’s remembrance of his childhood friends, went on to run until 1985 and received an Emmy nomination in 1974.

Arsenio Hall

Arsenio Hall/Los Angeles Times

Just one year after co-starring in the hit film ‘Coming to America’, comedian Arsenio Hall broke late-night barriers by becoming the first Black late-night talk show host. ‘The Arsenio Hall Show’, which ran until 1994, became a breakout success and helped him to become a pop culture icon.

Halle Berry

Halle Berry/LA Times

Halle Berry on the night of the 74th Annual Academy Awards, beat stiff competition to become the Best Actress award for her role in 2001’s ‘Monster Ball’. The timeless actress made history as the first Black woman to win the award. Fifteen years later, she’s still the only Black woman to hold the title.


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