8/2/21 O&A NYC HOLLYWOOD MONDAY: Pinky (1949) Jeanne Crain, Ethel Waters and Ethel Barrymore

Pinky (Jeanne Crain) is a black woman so fair-skinned she was able to pose as white throughout nursing school. Newly graduated, she flees south to visit her grandmother (Ethel Waters) after a doctor, unaware of her true ancestry, proposes to her.

Pinky focuses on racial prejudice in the Deep South. It tells the story of a light-skinned black woman who returns home to Mississippi after attending nursing school in the North. Immediately upon arriving home Pinky, whose real name is Patricia Johnson, is reminded of the horrific manner in which blacks are treated in places like Mississippi. A moral dilemma arises. Should Pinky return north where she can live (a lie) as a white woman and be treated with respect? Or, does she stay in Mississippi and live as whom she really is?

Unsure how to react, she looks to her grandmother, who warns her that only trouble will come of an interracial marriage. Pinky agrees and instead stays to help her grandmother care for an elderly, rich, and fatally ill white woman (Ethel Barrymore).

Pinky (Pinki) 1949 Jeanne Crain

Darryl Zanuck hoped for a hit movie, which he got, but he and no one else associated with Pinky could have guessed it would be historic. Jeanne Crain’s popularity soared thanks to this movie. Ethel Waters’ career was revitalized thanks to this movie.

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