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October 14, 2002

Gertrude Jeannette receives Equity's Paul Robeson Award
Gertrude Jeanette

Actor/playwright/director Gertrude Hadley Jeannette has received the 2002 Paul Robeson Award presented annually by the Paul Robeson Citation Committee of Actors' Equity Association.

The Award, created in 1974, honors those who, in their work and lives, are committed to the struggle for justice, equality and the principles to which Mr. Robeson devoted his life.

Ms. Jeannette, who studied at the American Negro Theatre, has performed on Broadway, Off-Broadway, at regional theatres, in films, and on TV and radio. On Broadway, she originated roles in such plays as Lost in the Stars, Nobody Loves an Albatross, The Long Dream, Amen Corner, The Skin of Our Teeth, The Great White Hope and Tennessee Williams' Vieux Carre. In addition, she is an award-winning playwright and director. In 1979, she founded the H.A.D.L.E.Y. Players to answer the need of professional artists to develop their talents and skills in the theatre and to enrich the cultural life in the Harlem community.

Ms. "J" or Ms. "G" as she is affectionately known, has received many honors during her more than 50-year career. She received the Outstanding Pioneer Award from Audelco in 1984, the AT&T and Black American Newspaper's 1987 Personality of the Year Award, the 1992 Harlem Business Recognition Award from the Manhattan Section of the National Council of Negro Women, and in 1991 she was named a Living Legend at the National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. A native of Little Rock, Arkansas, Ms. Jeannette was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 1999.

Before beginning her acting career, Ms. Jeannette achieved two historical "firsts." Joining her husband's motorcycle club in the early '40s, she was the first woman to get a license to drive a motorcycle in New York City. And in 1942, she took and passed the cab driver's test and became the first woman cab driver in New York City.

The Paul Robeson Award was presented by Andre De Shields at Equity's Eastern Regional membership meeting on October 4, 2002 .

Previous recipients of this award include Paul Robeson, Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, Lillian Hellman, Harry Belafonte, Studes Terkel, Lena Horne, John Henry Faulk, Ed Asner, Joseph Papp, Jacques D'Amboise, Lloyd Richards, George C. Wolfe, Athol Fugard and Rosetta LeNoire.

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