Swirling in History Part Ten: Vintage Swirl

For my last part of the Black History Month Swirling in History Series, I would like to share some photographs of Vintage couples starting from the 1950s.  The pics and excerpts are from my upcoming book Vintage Swirl in Pictures: Black Woman Interracial Marriage & Relationships from Pre Colonial to the 1960s.  The photographs in this post depict pioneering couples many of whom married when it was illegal in most states to do so.  We owe so much to the forward thinking and progressive women who dared to go against the status quo and marry a white or non black man.  They paved the way.  Because most were covered by Jet, Tan, Brown, Ebony and Life magazines, it is safe to assume they were mainly celebrities or other newsworthy unions.  There were many more who did not get coverage as they were average people.  But for the few pictures we do have, we can see that interracial marriage for black women is not a novel concept.  It has been happening nearly since time began.   Not all the couples stayed together, but that was not necessarily due to race as people do break up for a variety of reasons.  I hope you enjoy the pics and wet your appetites enough to look forward to my book.

Weren't they a lovely couple? Stephen Fratallone, writing for

Weren’t they a lovely couple?  Stephen Fratallone, writing for”Jazz Connection Magazine” quotes Louie on racial incidents during their marriage.

“Because Pearl was the kind of lady she was, there were many people who by-passed that,” Bellson said. “She was one of those people everyone loved. We had a few incidents over the years, but not many. I received a letter when we first got married that was very derogatory, very racial. We didn’t think anything of it, but rather, we felt sorry for the person who wrote the letter.”

A great way to look at it then, a great way to look at it now.   Photo – Jet Magazine Jan. 27, 1955

jet 3Pearl Bailey’s brother in law (brother of Louis Bellson) also marries a black woman named Lucille Dabney.

Jet Magazine Jan 10, 1957.

jet 4October 16 1965  –  The Pratts’ wedding day.  Leslie is seen here with hubby and her father.

jet 5Leslie Uggams Crayne and hubby of 47 years Grahame Pratt.  Way to go Mr. & Mrs. Pratt!  What wonderful role models of successful and enduring marriage.  She is gorgeous and still going strong.

jet 7Wife of Briggs Heir Alberta Sheffield Briggs Returns to Barmaid Job – Jet Magazine, May 28, 1953

jet 10White Bronco Buster Robert Yunker Weds Negro Rodeo Starlet Eleanor Bohannon – Jet Magazine, August 7, 1952.

  Wow a Cowgirl!

jet 13Interracial Couple Snubbed in London – Jet Magazine, January 20, 1955  Tony & Sylvia Overman.

jet 16Interracial Couple Sgt. William Rhein and Annie Allen Can’t Marry in Louisiana and Chooses Minn –

Jet Magazine June 25, 1953

jet 11

 Interracial Marriage, Your Job Can Lead to Interracial Wedlock – Brown Magazine, April, 1954

Jet 14
Interracial Marriage Upsets Bermudans – Jet Magazine February 9, 1956

jet 17

 Marlon Brando &  Barbara Roberts on Beach – Jet Magazine, August 18, 1955

jet 58William Kappelhoff and Luwenia Williams Bennet (Father of actress/singer Doris Day).  Jet Magazine June 8, 1961

jet 35Opera Singer Adele Addison and hubby Norman Berger Jet Magazine, July 17, 1958

jet 37Dorothy Dandridge and onetime boyfriend Peter Lawford.  He could not take the social pressure of the time

and ended the relationship.  He was weak.

jet 8Briton Hemish Miller Craig Marries African Princess – Jet Magazine, May 21, 1953.

jet 6Earlham College Ousts White Student Robert McAllester Engaged to Negro Grace Cunningham –

Jet Magazine, May 15, 1952


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