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  • Canada Lee

(1907-1952) was another of America's greatest black actors. He was born Lionel Canegata, but changed his name to Canada Lee in 1926 when he became a professional boxer. Like Robeson, Lee's first acting experience was at the Harlem YMCA. On Broadway he played Bigger Thomas in Native Son (1941) and Othello (1944). Between 1939 and 1951, Lee appeared in numerous Hollywood films, including Lifeboat (1944), Body and Soul (1947) and Cry, the Beloved Country (1951). As with Robeson, Lee, who had been a member of left-wing groups, was one of the actors named as a communist during the McCarthy era. He refused to testify before the House of Un-American Activities Committee and was blacklisted. He died a year later of a heart attack at age 45.



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