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'race'  filmmaker
Oscar  Micheaux

[1884-1951]

Oscar Micheaux early in life              short profile

movies by Oscar Micheaux

books by Oscar Micheaux

works about Oscar Micheaux

friends & family

links

             Oscar Micheaux later in life, wearing a hat


"One of the greatest tasks of my life has been to teach that the colored man can be anything."

"Your self image is so powerful [that] it unwittingly becomes your destiny."

— Oscar Micheaux

         Oscar Devereaux Micheaux was born 2 January 1884 in Illinois, the son of freed slaves, and grew up in Great Bend, Kansas. He worked as a Pullman porter and homestead farmer, and wrote autobiographical novels; when Hollywood wouldn't buy his stories, he took up filmmaking in 1919 (at age 35). He was more skilled at marketing movies than at making them, yet the 44 feature films that he produced over a 30-year span continue to shed valuable light on the harsh realities of the lives of African Americans.
         Micheaux's career began to fizzle, along with race films, in the late 1930s, and he returned to writing fiction; he published the books himself from Harlem in New York City, under the Book Supply Company banner. Of his seven published novels, three were bestsellers. In 1948, he put up his own money to produce the feature film "The Betrayal", but the market for race films was gone, and the film bankrupted him.
         Oscar Micheaux married Alice B. Russell in 1926, who acted in or co-wrote or co-produced many of his films. He died in obscurity on 25 March 1951 at age 67.
         Two-thirds of Micheaux's films are lost, and those surviving are mostly truncated by censorship.


Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame  Oscar Micheaux received
a posthumous Golden Jubilee Special Award in 1986
from the Directors Guild of America
the Producers Guild created an annual Oscar Micheaux Award
the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame gave him a posthumous award in 1989
and he has a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

Movies  by  Oscar  Micheaux
Oscar Micheaux credits [1919-48] at Internet Movie Database
browse Oscar Micheaux on DVD at Amazon

Race Movies DVD 4 movies directed by Oscar Micheaux & Spencer Williams  'Race Movies' DVD Box Set [2004]
includes "The Girl From Chicago" [1930] written & directed by Oscar Micheaux; "Lying Lips" [1939] written & directed by Oscar Micheaux; "Son of Ingagi" [1940] written by & co-starring Spencer Williams; and "The Girl In Room 20" [1946] directed by & starring Spencer Williams, co-starring Geraldine Brock
Echo Bridge Home Ent. b&w DVD [12/2004] for $4.98
Early Black Entertainment collection on DVD  "Early Black Entertainment In Film" DVD Box Set [2008]
St. Clair Vision b&w DVD set [1/2008] 3 disks for $9.98
includes "Swing!" [1938 musical] by Oscar Micheaux; "The Duke Is Tops" [1938 musical] starring Ralph Cooper & Lena Horne; "Two Gun Man From Harlem" [1938] starring Herb Jeffries; "God's Step Children"
[1938] by Oscar Micheaux; "Moon Over Harlem" [1939]; "The Bronze Buckaroo" [1939] with Herb Jeffries & Spencer Williams; "Harlem Rides The Range" [1939] with Herb Jeffries & Spencer Williams; "The Blood of Jesus" [1941] by Spencer Williams; "Beware" [1946 musical] starring Louis Jordan; "Look Out Sister" [1947 musical Western] by Louis Jordan; "Boy! What A Girl" [1947 musical]; "Hi-De-Ho" [1947 musical] starring Cab Calloway; plus poster gallery, photo gallery & vintage radio show

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"The Homesteader" [1919] based on his 1917 novel of the same name

"Within Our Gates" [Micheaux Book & Film Co. Jan 1920 silent]
Within Our Gates silent movie by Oscar Micheaux  Another response to "The Birth of A Nation" [1915], notably in the reversal of a key Griffith scene by depicting a white man assaulting a black woman. A Negro girl from the South visits a cousin in the North, who tricks her into a scandal to damage her fiancι. Returning home, the girl helps a preacher running an orphanage & school; when she learns that the state only pays $1.49 per year per child, she returns North to raise funds. Produced, written & directed by Oscar Micheaux; starring Evelyn Preer, Flo Clements, James D. Ruffin, S.T. Jacks, Charles D. Lucas, Mrs. Evelyn, Bernice Ladd, Jack Chenault & William Smith; listed at National Film Registry (1992)
Alpha Home Video b&w DVD [2/2012] for $7.98
Grapevine Video b&w DVD [6/2011] for $16.99
indep b&w DVD [9/2007] for $13.95
Library of Congress/Smithsonian b&w VHS [2/2007] out of prodn/scarce
full credits at IMDb • movie entry at Wikipedia

"The Brute" [1920]

"The Dungeon" [1922] B00008N70U

"The Gunsaulus Mystery" [1922] based on the Southern lynching of Leo Frank

"The Virgin of The Seminole" [1922]

"Body and Soul" [1925 silent] starring Paul Robeson

"When Men Betray" [1928]

"Wages of Sin" [1929 film]

"Darktown Revue" [1930]

"A Daughter of The Congo" [1930]

"The Exile" [1931] pOMtheexile.jpg

"Veiled Aristocrats" [1932] adapted from novel
"The House Behind The Cedars" [] by Charles W. Chesnutt [1858-1932]

"The Girl From Chicago" [1933] {on DVD above}

"Murder In Harlem" [Micheaux Pictures Corp. 1935]
Murder In Harlem aka Lem Hawkins' Confession 1935 movie by Oscar Micheaux  Loosely based on the famous 1913 Leo Frank case in Atlanta, Georgia; sound remake of Micheaux's "The Gunsaulus Mystery" [1922 silent]; also released as "Lem Hawkins' Confession" [1935]. A black night watchman at a chemical factory finds the body of a murdered white woman; after he reports it, the police accuse him of the crime; his sister and her boy-friend prove his innocence. Co-produced, written & directed by Oscar Micheaux; based on Micheaux's future novel "The Story of Dorothy Stanfield"; co-produced by & starring {wife} Alice B. Russell; starring Clarence Brooks, Dorothy Van Engle, Andrew Bishop, Alec Lovejoy, Laura Bowman, Bee Freeman, Alice B. Russell, Lorenzo McClane & 'Slick' Chester
full credits at IMDb • movie entry at Wikipedia
available on DVD collection above, and on
Harlem Double Feature DVD, with Herb Jeffries's "Harlem Rides The Range" [1939]
Alpha Home Ent. b&w DVD [11/2006] for $7.98

"Underworld" [1936]

"God's Step Children" [Micheaux Pictures Corp. 1938]
God's Step Children 1938 movie by Oscar Micheaux  A light-skinned Negro girl is abandoned by her mother, then adopted and raised with a brother; the girl's bratty teenage antics get her sent to a convent. Years later, she returns and is pressured to marry an older man, a banker; her brother marries and has children. She gives her baby to her adopted mother, then runs away. In the longer version of the film, she drowns herself. Produced & directed by Oscar Micheaux; script by Oscar Micheaux, based on a short treatment "Naomi, Negress" by Alice B. Russell {Micheaux's wife}; starring Jacqueline Lewis, Alice B. Russell, Dorothy Van Engle, Charles Thompson, Ethyl Moses {dual role}, Carman Newsome, Gloria Press, Laura Bowman & Sam Patterson
full credits at IMDb • movie entry at Wikipedia
available on DVD collection above, and on
Harlem Double Feature DVD, with Spencer Williams's "Girl In Room 20" [1942]
Alpha Home Ent. b&w DVD [11/2006] for $7.98

"Swing!" [1938 musical] {on DVD above}

"Birthright" [1939]

"Lying Lips" [Micheaux Film Co. May 1939]
Lying Lips 1939 movie by Oscar Micheaux  A nightclub singer is framed for the murder of her aunt; a black detective (in love with the singer) stays with the case and proves her innocent; she is pardoned and they marry. Co-produced, written & directed by Oscar Micheaux; starring Edna Mae Harris, Carman Newsome, Robert Earl Jones, Frances E. Williams, Cherokee Thornton, Slim Thompson, Gladys Williams & Henry Gines • full credits at IMDb • movie entry at Wikipedia
available on DVD collection above, and on
Harlem Double Feature DVD, with Spencer Williams's "Blood of Jesus" [1941]
Alpha Home Ent. b&w DVD [10/2006] for $7.98

"The Notorious Elinor Lee" [1940]

"The Betrayal" [1948] based on bestseller novel "The Winds From Nowhere"



Books  by  Oscar  Micheaux
browse the Oscar Micheaux Store at Amazon

The Conquest 1913 novel by Oscar Micheaux  "Conquest: The Story of A Negro Pioneer" [1913 novel]
A brave Negro homesteader dreams of taming 1,000 acres of land and establishing himself as an example of success for his people; he secures the land but is over-whelmed by struggles with drought, loneliness, and a troubled marriage.
Univ Nebraska Press 8x5¼ pb [5/94] for $22.95
Kessinger Publng 9x6 pb [10/2007] for $24.28
S&S/Washington Square Press 8x6½ pb [5/2003] out of print/used
Kessinger Publng hardcover [6/2008] for $35.68
The Forged Note 1915 novel by Oscar Micheaux  "The Forged Note: A Romance of The Darker Races" [1915 novel]
BiblioBazaar 8¾x5¾ pb [11/2009] for $30.99
Kessinger Publng 9x6 pb [10/2007] for $31.12
Univ MI Library digitalized 8x5 pb [1915 edition] for $29.99
BiblioLife 10x78 hardcover [11/2009] for $35.99
Kessinger Publng 8½x6 hardcover [6/2008] for $40.84
The Homesteader 1917 novel by Oscar Micheaux  "The Homesteader: A Novel" [1917]
Essentially a rewrite of "The Conquest"; a young Negro purchases land in South Dakota, and in the face of drought, pestilence & foreclosure, he turns to writing; his marriage to the daughter of a Chicago minister collapses in acrimony and high drama.
Kessinger Publng 9x6 pb [10/2007] for $32.64
Univ Nebraska Press 8x5¼ pb [5/94] out of print/used
Kessinger Publng 9x6 hardcover [6/2008] for $42.30
made into 1919 movie {see above}

"The Wind From Nowhere: A Novel of Negro Life" [1941 bestseller]
Book Supply Co. hardcover [1944] out of print/scarce
made into 1948 movie "The Betrayal" {see above}

The Case of Mrs. Wingate 1945 novel by Oscar Micheaux  "The Case of Mrs. Wingate" [1944 novel]
Micheaux's biggest success in books: A retired Negro filmmaker living in Harlem meets and marries a black woman raised in Germany, then discovers that she and her brother have been spying for the Nazis. Negro detective Walter Lebaron tracks the brother to the West Indies and brings him back for trial.
Book Supply Co. hardcover [1945] out of print/scarce
Story of Dorothy Stanfield 1946 novel by Oscar Micheaux  "The Story of Dorothy Stanfield: Based On A Great Insurance Swindle - and A Woman!" [1946 novel]
A second tale involving Negro detective Walter Lebaron; based on Micheaux's 1922 silent feature "The Gunsaulus Mystery" and the 1935 sound remake "Murder In Harlem". A black night watchman at a factory is accused of the murder of a white girl.
Kessinger Publng 9x6 pb [3/2007] for $26.56
Kessinger Publng 9x6 hardcover [6/2008] for $37.96
Book Supply Co. hardcover [1946] out of print/used
made into 1935 movie "Murder In Harlem" {see above}
Masquerade 1947 novel by Oscar Micheaux  
"The Masquerade: An Historical Novel" [1947]
Written by Micheaux as a response to the 1939 Billy Holiday hit record "Strange Fruit"
and the 1944 bestseller novel by Lillian Smith.

Book Supply Co. hardcover [6/47] out of print/scarce

Works  About  Oscar  Micheaux

"Oscar Micheaux, Film Pioneer" [1981]
Starring Danny Glover; VHS/DVD/Blu-ray not available; bare credits at IMDb

"Black Novelist As White Racist: The Myth of Black Inferiority In The Novels of Oscar Micheaux"
[Greenwood Press 1989] by Joseph A. Young 0313257493 Young, Joseph A.

"The Life and Times of Oscar Micheaux" [] by Earl James Young, Jr. OMicheauxLife&TimesEJY.jpg
http://www.amazon.com/Life-Work-Oscar-Micheaux-Filmmaker/dp/0963564579/ = same?

Midnight Ramble / Oscar Micheaux documentary  
"Midnight Ramble: The Story of The Black Film Industry"
[P.B.S./American Experience TV documentary aired Oct 1994]

Co-produced & co-directed by Bestor Cram; co-directed by Pearl Bowser; narrated by James Avery
Shanachie Video color VHS [2/95] out of prodn/used
full credits at IMDb
Writing Himself into History  "Writing Himself Into History: Oscar Micheaux, His Silent Films & His Audiences"
[2000] by Pearl Bowser & Louise Spence

Rutgers Univ Press 9¼x6¼ pb [8/2000] for $25.95
Rutgers Univ Press 9½x6½ hardcover [8/2000] out of print/used
Straight Lick / Cinema of Oscar Micheaux book by J. Ronald Green  "Straight Lick: The Cinema of Oscar Micheaux" [2000]
by J. Ronald Green

Indiana Univ Press 9½x6¼ hardcover [9/2000] for $29.95
Oscar Micheaux / African-American Filmmaking  "Oscar Micheaux and His Circle: African-American Filmmaking & Race Cinema of The Silent Era" [2001] Edited & curated by Pearl Bowser, Jane Gaines & Charles Musser
Indiana Univ Press 11x9½ hardcover [9/2001] for $42.30
Crooked Stick / Films of Oscar Micheaux book by J. Ronald Green  "With A Crooked Stick: The Films of Oscar Micheaux" [2004]
by J. Ronald Green

Indiana Univ Press 9x6 pb [4/2004] for $27.95
Indiana Univ Press 9½x6¼ [4/2004] for $65.00
Oscar Micheaux / Life of America's First Black Filmmaker biography by Patrick Mcgilligan  "Oscar Micheaux, The Great and Only: The Life of America's First Black Filmmaker"
[2007] by Patrick McGilligan

Harper Perennial 9x6 pb [6/2008] for $11.53
Harper hardcover [6/2007] for $29.95
Hollywood On The Hudson book by Richard Koszarski  "Hollywood On The Hudson: Film & Television In New York From Griffith To Sarnoff" [2008] by Richard Koszarski
Rutgers Univ Press 10x7 hardcover [7/2008] for $28.76
covers East Coast filmmakers, writers & actors: Thomas Edison, animators Max & Dave Fleischer, D.W. Griffith, Ben Hecht, Charles MacArthur, Oscar Micheaux, Paul Robeson, Gloria Swanson, Rudolph Valentino, and others

unproduced screenplay "Sepia Tone: The Oscar Micheaux Story"
written by John Byrd & Amy Ostrower


Friends  &  Family
Oscar Devereaux Micheaux was born in January 1884 in Illinois, and grew up in Kansas; he died in obscurity in North Carolina in 1951 at age 67.

father Calvin S. Michaux [] {the 'e' was added later}
mother Belle Michaux []
Oscar was the fifth of their thirteen children


first wife Orlean McCracken Micheaux [] of South Dakota
ran away with his money and first-born child circa 1912

second wife Alice B. Russell Micheaux [1892-1984] married in 1926, widowed 1951
IMDb listing [1927-48] • Wikipedia

sister-in-law Julia Theresa Russell []


brother 'Professor' Lewis H. Micheaux [1885-1976], bookseller
IMDb listing • Wikipedia

Lewis Micheaux and partner Willis Huggins opened the National Memorial African Bookstore at 125th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem (New York City) with five books, circa 1933; when it closed in 1975, the mostly-left-wing inventory had grown to over 200,000 books. Malcolm X wrote his speeches in the back of the bookstore; other regular visitors included W.E.B. Du Bois, Paul Robeson, A. Philip Randolph, and Thurgood Marshall. A huge sign on the storefront read 'The House of Common Sense and Home of Proper Propaganda'.

Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 documentary film  "The Black Power Mixtape, 1967-1975"
[Swedish TV 2011, Sundance Selects USA Sept 2011]

100-minute documentary film culled from footage by white Swedish filmmakers that was shot in America from 1967-1975 and only recently discovered in storage; includes clips of Lewis Micheaux; others featured include Erykah Badu, Harry Belafonte, Mable Carmichael, Stokely Carmichael, Eldridge Cleaver, Kathleen Cleaver, Angela Davis, Louis Farrakhan, Danny Glover, Martin Luther King Jr., Talib Kweli, Bobby Seale, and Malcolm X
Written & directed by Gφran Olsson
full credits at IMDb • official movie site
M.P.I. Home Video b&w/color DVD [12/2011] for $19.99
companion book: Haymarket Books hardcover [4/2012] for $16.14

No Crystal Stair novel biography by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson  "No Crystal Stair: A Documentary Novel of The Life and Work of Lewis Micheaux"
[YA 2012] by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie

Author often visited her great-uncle Lewis Micheaux at his famous bookstore in Harlem; she spent 15 years researching his life among family members, friends, and libraries.
Carolrhoda Books 10x7 hardcover [2/2012] for $11.59


grand-niece Vaunda Micheaux Nelson
browse books • no entry at IMDb • Wikipedia
The author is a youth services librarian at the public library in Rio Rancho, New Mexico,
where she lives with her husband; ten of her books are listed at Amazon

L i n k s
Oscar Micheaux entry at Wikipedia
Oscar Micheaux credits [1919-48] at Internet Movie Database

browse Oscar Micheaux on DVD
browse the Oscar Micheaux Store at Amazon

Oscar Micheaux Committee fansite
Oscar Micheaux Film & Book Festival {store} in Gregory, South Dakota
DS's Oscar Micheaux fansite in Great Bend, Kansas
The African American Cinema Society & Archive [est. 1976]


here on the Oscar Micheaux [1884-1951] Page at Magic Lantern Video & Book Store

top of page • short profile • movies by Oscar Micheaux • books by Oscar Micheaux •

works about Oscar Micheaux • friends & family • links

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