Juanita Hall

b. 6 November 1901, Keysport, New Jersey, USA, d. 28 February 1968, Bay Shore, New York, USA. After studying at the Juilliard School of Music and Drama, Hall began singing and playing small roles in theatrical…
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Artist Biography

b. 6 November 1901, Keysport, New Jersey, USA, d. 28 February 1968, Bay Shore, New York, USA. After studying at the Juilliard School of Music and Drama, Hall began singing and playing small roles in theatrical productions on the eastern seaboard. In 1935, she appeared in a Broadway revival of Sailor Beware! Mostly, over the next few years she sang, her repertoire ranging through popular songs of the day to folk music and the blues. She made some recordings, including six sides for Victor Records, accompanied by jazz trombonist Bennie Morton and his orchestra. In those days, there never were enough major roles for black artists but things improved somewhat for Hall from the mid-40s onwards. She had a place in the chorus in Sing Out Sweet Land (1944) and a revival of Show Boat (1946). After moving up to small supporting roles in St. Louis Woman (1946) and Street Scene (1947), she was cast as Bloody Mary in the new Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II show, South Pacific (1949). Hall was widely and highly praised for her nightly show-stopping performances of ‘Bali Ha’i’ and ‘Happy Talk’. In 1954 she had another good role as Madam Tango in House Of Flowers.

In 1958 Hall went to Hollywood to reprise her role as Bloody Mary in the film version of South Pacific. Among the many disappointments of this film was the inexplicable decision to have Hall’s singing dubbed by Muriel Smith. Also in 1958, Hall was back on Broadway for the role of Madame Liang in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Flower Drum Song. That same year, she recorded Juanita Sings The Blues, on which she was accompanied by an all-star jazz group led by pianist Claude Hopkins and which included trumpeter Doc Cheatham and tenor saxophonist Coleman Hawkins. In 1961, she went to Hollywood for the screen version ofFlower Drum Song. After this film appearance, Hall then retired from public performance.