Special 2021

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91 SAG-AFTRA SPECIAL ISSUE 2021 // SAGAFTRA.ORG ///// SNAPSHOT R obert Sullivan, author of the Nov. 8, 1942, New York Daily News article accompanying the cover photo (right) of the then-22-year-old Hazel Scott, praised her stunning keyboard creativity: "There are swarms of piano players in this world, but not many of them approach Hazel in technique, originality and just plain energy when they are working. She will start with a Chopin waltz and imperceptibly the brittle notes will wander off on a bypath until suddenly they become pure boogie- woogie, with a breath of the barrelhouse and a hint of something not quite nice, which fascinates the customers." Scott, an Afro-Caribbean piano prodigy, emigrated from her Trinidad birthplace to New York City with her mother in June 1924, the month she turned 4 years old. Her startling musical talent at the age of 8 was so evident that Scott gained admission to Juilliard as a special student for private lessons on a scholarship, the only way her mother could have afforded it. She became so skilled at the piano that she often played two of them on stage — simultaneously. She appeared as herself in five Hollywood feature films in the 1940s, and her charisma and sheer enjoyment of the musical art was striking and infectious. In August 1945, she married one of the most famous Black men in America, U.S. Rep Adam Clayton Powell Jr. On Feb. 24, 1950, she became what is believed to be the first Black woman to host her own TV show, The Hazel Scott Show. The 15-minute weekly program debuted on Dumont Network television station WABD in New York, sponsored by Sitroux, which made tissues and disposable handkerchiefs. Unfortunately, in June of that year, her name appeared in Red Channels: The Report of Communist Influence in Radio and Television, and the show was not renewed. Her Red Channels listing may have been a factor, but the network at the time claimed that it was unable to find a show sponsor. Scott voluntarily appeared before House Committee on Un-American Activities in September, declaring, "I am not a member of the Communist Party … I have never entertained the idea of being one, and I never will." In 1957, she left America for Paris with her husband and son, Adam Clayton Powell III. She and her husband soon divorced, and she returned to America in the 1960s. In the summer of 1981, she received an exciting offer to play as many weeks as she wanted at a Manhattan music venue, Kippy's Pier 44, but the first week she performed, pains began in her stomach, which soon became so bad she was taken to a hospital after a show. Pancreatic cancer swiftly REMEMBERING A JAZZ VIRTUOSO

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