Archive of photographs and letters regarding a pair of African American twin child actors

Los Angeles: N.p., 1935. Archive of material regarding a pair of prospective African American child actors, including four black and white photographs of the children, four autograph letters signed from a "Madame Fay," variously addressed to Mr. and Mrs. Martin Smith and an unnamed "Mr. Agent," and one typescript letter, unsigned (but seemingly from one of the Smiths), responding to Fay's previous correspondence. Two photographs with the stamp of Adair's Studio at 4105 Central Avenue on the verso.

Fay's letters, which identify the children as twins, broadly discuss her hopes of securing acting representation for the twins, facilitated by the Smiths, who seem to have had some connections within the film industry. The letters also frankly address Fay's financial hardships, noting, "I don't expect much for myself in the start buy if I only know that I have a Dependance I will feel safer. I don’t think I shall ever be able to go into any ones kitchen and the lisence is so high for readings that unless I can’t find any other sorce of Deasent living I hardly know what to do" [sic all]. Fay's note about licenses for readings, as well as her distinctive moniker, suggests that she also worked as a medium or psychic in addition to having previously worked for the Smiths.

In her single letter to the unnamed agent, Fay reiterates her desperation, and states that she previously took the children to noted film and television comedy producer Hal Roach. She goes on to state her preference for the children working with a white agent and avoiding "the Central ave. agents". Central Avenue and 41st Street was the heart of African American life in Los Angeles in the early and mid-20th century, a populous region commonly referred to as the "Black belt of the city," home to a rapidly growing African American community as well as numerous Black-owned enterprises.

As a whole, the archive presents an interesting and emotive glimpse into life on the edges of Depression-era Hollywood, as well as the numerous difficulties and limitations faced by African Americans in gaining entry into the film industry.

Photographs approximately 7.5 x 9.75 inches. Letters varying sizes. All materials generally Very Good plus, lightly age-toned, with some dampstaining to the letters.

[Book #152255]