“Let’s all nod in appreciation to Donald Bogle for putting everything in historical perspective…Mr. Bogle continues to be our most noted Black-cinema historian.” – Spike Lee, writing on Donald Bogle
Donald Bogle, the author of the highly acclaimed book Dorothy Dandridge: A Biography, is one of the foremost authorities on African Americans in the movies. His book Toms, Coons, Mulattoes, Mammies, and Bucks: An Interpretive History of Blacks in American Films is considered a classic study of Black movie images in America and is now in its fifth edition. It is used in film courses at colleges and universities throughout the country. A new updated, expanded edition of his book Brown Sugar: Over A Hundred Years of America’s Black Female Superstars—which is a stunning examination of the lives and careers of African American women from the early years of the twentieth century to the present, from Bessie Smith and Josephine Baker up to today’s Beyoncé—was recently published. Brown Sugar was also previously adapted by Bogle into a four-hour, four-part documentary for PBS. He is also the author of such prize-winning books as Bright Boulevards, Bold Dreams: The Story of Black Hollywood; Primetime Blues: African Americans on Network Television; and Blacks in American Films and Television: An Illustrated Encyclopedia. His recent book, Heat Wave: The Life and Career of Ethel Waters was published by HarperCollins Publishers. Library Journal has called the Waters book “an exemplary biography…Bogle masterfully uses Waters’s story to examine the economic, aesthetic and racial politics of the 1920s-60s popular culture. This work is everything a biography should be.”
Last year, Bogle released his newest book Elizabeth and Michael: The Queen of Hollywood and The King of Pop, A Love Story. The late columnist Liz Smith devoted an entire column to praising the book. “A surprisingly comprehensive, sensitive and entertaining look at Taylor and Jackson, and not just their friendship,” Smith wrote. “Bogle has, essentially, written three books in one: Taylor’s biography, Jackson’s and the tale of their mutual coming together, the how and why. . . The writer knows his subjects and his back-and-forth bios of Taylor and Jackson are extremely well done.”
Bogle also conceived and co-hosted for the Turner Classic Movie channel a 38-film series called Race and Hollywood—tracing the depictions of African Americans in Hollywood—from the silent period with The Birth of a Nation (1915) up to Carl Franklin’s Devil in a Blue Dress (1995) and Spike Lee’s Get on the Bus (1996). Last April, he was one of the film authorities who participated in TCM’s important film festival in Los Angeles. In total, the various screenings were seen by 17,000 people. Bogle also was one of the commentators for the seven-part documentary series on the history of Hollywood titled Moguls and Movie Stars. In 2008, Bogle was also the keynote speaker for the annual convention of the American Library Association in Anaheim, California. There was a record turnout for his presentation.
Bogle has appeared on such television programs such as The Today Show, Good Morning America, Entertainment Tonight, Nightline, The Tavis Smiley Show, The Charlie Rose Show, NBC Nightly News and many others. He has served as a commentator on numerous documentaries, including Spike Lee’s Jim Brown: All-American; HBO’s Mo’ Funny: Black Comedy in America, executive produced by Richard Pryor; and the American Movie Classic channel’s Small Steps…Big Strides, which chronicled the history of African Americans in motion pictures. He also wrote the introductory essay for A Separate Cinema: Fifty Years of Black Cast Posters. His articles have appeared in such publications as Film Comment, Ebony, Elan, Essence, Spin and Freedomways. He has curated major retrospectives on Sidney Poitier at the American Museum of the Moving Image and on Dorothy Dandridge at New York’s Film Forum as well as retrospectives on Blaxploitation Cinema and on Images of African American Women in the Movies, also at Film Forum. He previously served on the board of Film Forum and has lectured on Black movie history throughout the United States as well as in parts of Africa, Asia and Europe. During his stay in South Africa, he lectured in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durbin. In Johannesburg, the American Ambassador and his wife hosted a dinner in Bogle’s honor.
Presently, he teaches at both the University of Pennsylvania and New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. He divides his time between New York and Los Angeles.