Cornelia Estelle Smith

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Cornelia Smith
Cornelia Estelle Johnson

29 April 1875
DiedMay 11, 1970(1970-05-11) (aged 95)
OccupationEntertainer, Actress
Spouse(s)Levi Augustus (Gus) Smith

Cornelia 'Connie' Estelle Smith (1875 – 1970) [née Johnson] was a music-hall entertainer and actress who was a member of the English Stage Company at the Royal Court Theatre. Appearing in theater and film, she was best known for her performances in All God’s Chillun Got Wings (1946), You Can’t take it With You (1947), Kaiser Jones (1961), and as the sorceress Tituba in Arthur Miller's The Crucible.[1][2]

Early life and career[edit]

Smith was born on 29 April 1875 in South Carolina, USA. She was the daughter of Matthew and Letta Johnson.[2] At a young age, her family moved to Brooklyn, New York, USA.

On July 4, 1894, she was one of a group of actors, musicians, and singers[3] who left New York to tour Germany and Denmark in the stage production of The South before the War.[2] During the tour, she met Levi Augustus Smith, a pianist and variety artist from Philadelphia, USA.[2] The two married in 1902 after moving to London in 1895.[2]

In 1927, Smith and five other entertainers formed the Southern Serenaders, a group that recorded on the Parlophone label. In 1928, she was an understudy for Alberta Hunter in a production of Show Boat at the Drury Lane Theatre in London. Soon afterward, she became a member of the newly formed Dixie Harmony Quartet, which became the Dixie Trio when one member left in 1934.[3]


  1. ^ "Deep are the Roots". African Stories in Hull & East Yorkshire. Retrieved 2019-02-20.
  2. ^ a b c d e Bourne, Stephen (6 January 2011). "Smith [née Johnson], Cornelia Estelle [Connie] (1875–1970), music-hall entertainer and actress". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/94605. Retrieved 2019-02-20. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  3. ^ a b Scobie, Edward (December 10, 1955). "Europe A Many Splendored Thing To Many U.S. Stars". The New York Age. New York, New York City. p. 18. Retrieved 13 March 2019 – via