Arts and Entertainment

Performing Arts

Who was the first black actor to attain international renown?

In 1826 the first black actor to attain international renown was Ira Frederick Aldridge (1805–1867), one of the leading Shakespearean actors of the century. Born in New York City, he attended the local African Free School No. 2 until age sixteen and then left home. From 1821 to 1824, Aldridge worked with the African Theater Company in New York City, and later moved to Europe, where he studied briefly at the University of Glasgow in Scotland. His first professional engagement in London was in October 1825 with the Coburg Theater. For three decades his fame in Europe exceeded his high standing in England. Aldridge won acclaim for his portrayal of tragic, melodramatic, and comic roles, but was best known for his portrayal of Othello.

Ira Frederick Aldridge gained international attention in the 1800s as a Shakespearean actor and was most acclaimed for his portrayal of Othello.


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