Star Facts
  • Category Motion Pictures

    Address 6721 Hollywood Blvd.

    Ceremony date 02/13/1987

Oscar Micheaux
African American
Death Date:
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Oscar Micheaux

Oscar Devereaux Micheaux was an American author and film director. Although predated by the short lived Lincoln Motion Picture Company that put out smaller films, he is regarded as the first African-American feature filmmaker, and the most prominent producer of race films.

Micheaux was born near Metropolis, Illinois and grew up in Great Bend, Kansas, one of eleven children of former slaves. As a young boy, he shined shoes and worked as a porter on the railway. As a young man, he very successfully homesteaded a farm in Gregory County, South Dakota, where he began writing stories. Micheaux overcame many of the racist attitudes and restrictions on African-American publishers and authors by forming his own publishing company to sell his books door-to-door.

The advent of the motion picture industry intrigued him as a vehicle to tell his stories. He formed his own movie production company and, in 1919, became the first African-American to make a film.{citation} He wrote, directed and produced the silent motion picture, The Homesteader, starring pioneering African-American actress Evelyn Preer, based on his novel of the same name. He used autobiographical elements in The Exile, his first feature film with sound, in which the central character leaves Chicago to buy and operate a ranch in South Dakota. In 1924, his film, Body and Soul, introduced the movie-going public to Paul Robeson.

Given the times, his accomplishments in publishing and film are extraordinary, including being the first African American to produce a film to be shown in “white” movie theaters. In his motion pictures, he moved away from the “Negro stereotypes” being portrayed in film at the time. In his film Within Our Gates, Micheaux attacked the racism depicted in the D.W. Griffith film, The Birth of a Nation.