Urylee Leonardos

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Urylee Leonardos
Born (1910-05-14)May 14, 1910
Charleston, South Carolina, United States
Died April 25, 1986(1986-04-25) (aged 75)
New York, New York, United States
Occupation singer, actor
Years active 1939–1976
Spouse(s) Kenneth Bacon

Urylee Leonardos (May 14, 1910 – April 25, 1986) was an American vocalist and actress who appeared frequently on Broadway. She has the distinction of being the first black performer to understudy and go on for a white performer in a Broadway production. She filled in for Yma Sumac in the role of Princess Najla in the 1951 production of Flahooley.[1]

Biography[edit]

Leonardos appeared in Mike Todd's Gay New Orleans revue at the 1939 World's Fair in New York City. Later that year, she had a small role on Broadway in The Male Animal.[1]

Her big break came in 1943, when she was cast in the musical Carmen Jones. Initially cast in a small role, Leonardo took over the lead in the 1946 revival of the production.[1]

Leonardos filled in for Yma Sumac as Princess Najla in the 1951 production, Flahooley. It was the first time that a black performer stepped into a role played by a white person on Broadway.[1] She also played the female lead in the 1953 revival of Porgy and Bess.[2]

Selected Credits[edit]

Theatre[edit]

Year Production Role(s) Theatre(s) Notes
1953 Porgy and Bess [2] Bess Zeigfield Theatre Revival. Alternated role with Leontyne Price
1952 Shuffle Along[3] Laura Popham Broadway Theatre Revival of the 1920s musical, but set in Northern Italy and New York City in 1945
1951 Flahooley[4] Switchboard Operator, Singer, Najla (understudy) Broadhurst Theatre
1948 Set My People Free[5] Blanche Hudson Theatre Staged by Martin Ritt
1946 Carmen Jones[6] Carmen City Center Revival of 1943 production
1943 Carmen Jones[7] Card Player, Ensemble Broadway Theatre

Motion Pictures[edit]

Year Title Role Distributor Notes
1950 No Sad Songs for Me Flora, the Maid Columbia

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Johnson, John H., ed. (September 25, 1952). "Broadway's most-jinxed performer". Jet. Chicago, Illinois: Johnson Publishing Company, Inc. 2 (22): 58–61. 
  2. ^ a b "Porgy and Bess". New York, New York: Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 2011-07-11. 
  3. ^ "Shuffle Along". New York, New York: Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 2011-07-11. 
  4. ^ "Flahooley". New York, New York: Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 2011-07-11. 
  5. ^ "Set My People Free". New York, New York: Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 2011-07-11. 
  6. ^ "Carmen Jones". New York, New York: Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 2011-07-11. 
  7. ^ "Carmen Jones". New York, New York: Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 2011-07-11. 

External links[edit]