There are books upon books, amazing posters, photos, and DVDs dedicated to celebrating so many of Hollywood's lauded beauty icons. But when it comes to finding information about some of the most famous celebrities of color, it seems the same care and attention wasn't paid to cherishing their legacies. Allow us to present an online tribute to one of the most beautiful black celebrities in entertainment history and who has largely been forgotten by the annals of time: Miss Nina Mae McKinney.
In her heyday, McKinney was featured in more than 30 movies -- more than many of her peers, whose names are more recognized as influential black celebrity icons today. She was called The Black Garbo, likening her wide-eyed, mysterious, demure beauty to that of Greta Garbo.
Nina Mae McKinney was part of the chorus line of Blackbirds of 1928, and it was there that director King Vidor discovered her. He cast her in his first sound film 'Hallelujah,' which is counted among the first all-black films ever to be made by a major studio. After this success, McKinney was signed to a 5-year contract with MGM. In the height of the notorious "studio system," her career fell into the hands of those who didn't recognize her potential.
After years of bit roles and scenes left on the cutting room floor, McKinney went to Europe where she found tremendous theatrical acclaim. At the beginning of World War II she returned to America and married jazz musician Jimmy Monroe. But she never regained the fame that she once had. Bit roles in indie films sustained her through the Forties and Fifties. Her last film roles are listed as Pinky in 1949, and Copper Canyon in 1950.
Nina Mae McKinney died of a heart attack in 1967 and her death went largely unnoticed by the media.
Nina Mae McKinney was known for her big, beautiful, expressive eyes. She kept her brows thin according to the style of the times, and she set off those gorgeous peepers with dark, smokey eye makeup. One of my favorite purchases for that kind of eye is the My Smokey Classics palette By Lauren Luke. This makeup case has everything you'd want to create perfect retro makeup.