Wednesday, December 26, 2007
GILPIN, CHARLES S.
GILPIN, CHARLES S. One of the most accomplished black dramatic actors of the twentieth century, Charles S. Gilpin was born in Richmond, Virginia in 1872. During his twenties and thirties, Gilpin toured with vaudeville troupes throughout the United States and Canada. In 1916 he organized the Lafayette Theatre Company, one of the earliest black stock companies in New York City. He made his first appearance on Broadway in 1919 in John Drinkwater's play Abraham Lincoln. His crowning achievement came a year later when he was chosen to play the lead in Eugene O'Neill's Emperor Jones. The drama was an immense hit, running in New York for four years and quickly establishing Gilpin as one of America's great actors. Receiving the Spingarn Award from the NAACP in 1921, Gilpin's health failed during the late 1920's. Forced into retirement in 1929, he died in the following year.