A Bit of Background
Charles S. Gilpin was the most famous Black man in America.
In 1920, his portrayal of Brutus Jones in Eugene O’Neill’s play, The Emperor Jones, was hailed as “revelatory.”
He became the first African-American dramatic star in a lead role on Broadway, and was named one of its finest actors.
Gilpin immediately became the darling of the theater world, receiving accolades and recognition no other Black actor had ever gotten—even being invited to the White House.
But by 1930, while O’Neill went on to become a legend, Gilpin was lost to history.