Gilpin, Charles


Gilpin, Charles
(1878-1930)
   African American actor Charles Sidney Gilpin was born in Richmond, Virginia. He worked for a time in a printing firm before joining a black stock company in 1903. At times Gilpin also worked as a train porter, a barber, and an elevator operator. He toured with numerous troupes, including the all-black Pekin Stock Company in Chicago, then, in 1916, became a director of Harlem's Lafayette Players, the first black stock company in New York in a century. Appearing on Broadway as Custis, a minister, in John Drinkwater's Abraham Lincoln (1919) led to his getting cast in the title role of Eugene O'Neill's expressionist drama The Emperor Jones (1920). Race prejudice and his sudden fame led Gilpin to overindulge in alcohol. After he was passed over in favor of Paul Robeson for the Broadway and London productions of The Emperor Jones, he rarely worked again.

The Historical Dictionary of the American Theater. .

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