Juanita Hall was born in 1901 in Keypost, New Jersey. Rodgers & Hammerstein selected her to play ‘Bloody Mary’ in the stage musical “South Pacific” in 1959. Nine years later she recreated her part on film with Mitzi Gaynor, Rosanno Brazzi, John Kerr and France Nuyen. She wnet on to star in “Flower Drum Song” with Nancy Kwan and Miyoshi Umeki. She died in 1968.
A leading black Broadway performer in her heyday, she was personally chosen by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein to perform the roles she played in South Pacific and Flower Drum Song. In the early 30s, she was a special soloist and assistant director for the Hall Johnson Choir.
Inspired as a child by blues legend Bessie Smith, she only recorded one album of blues in her lifetime.
Married a young actor, Clement Hall, while in her teens. He died in the 1920s. They had no children and she never remarried.
Trained classically at Juilliard.
Although a light-skinned Afro-American, her two most famous roles saw her cast as a Pacific Islander (“South Pacific”) and an Asian-American (“Flower Drum Song”), respectively. She reprised her roles in both productions in the movie versions. Received a Tony Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical in the Broadway stage version of “South Pacific”. She sings in the cast album, but was dubbed in the film version by the actress from the London production.
The role of Bloody Mary is based on the only true-life person whom James A. Michener met in Espiritu Santo in the New Hebrides, in the South Pacific. She was Tonkinese. Tonkin, at the time, was in China, and after the French left Vietnam, that area became part of North Vietnam. She arrived in the South Pacific to work on a French plantation owner’s farm. Received a 1950 Tony Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical in the Broadway stage version of “South Pacific”. She sings in the cast album, but was dubbed in the film version by the actress from the London production.
The above IMDB entry can also be accessed online here.
Anyone who knows me are aware that I am a bit of a movie buff. Over the past few years I have been collecting signed photographs of my favourite actors.