updated: 08/09/2008

racechange: Show Boat

At the end of the nineteenth century, the show boat Cotton Blossom owned by Captain Andy Hawks travels the rivers of the Southern USA. The stars of the show are Julie LaVerne (Ava Gardner) and her husband – until someone tells the local police that Julie, who is part African-American, is married to a whiteman in breach of laws banning interracial marriages.

The Breen Censorship Office tried to raise an objection to the use of the ‘miscegenation sequence’ (where Julie’s husband sucks blood from a pinprick in her hand so that he can truthfully claim that he has ‘Negro’ blood in him) but were unsuccessful because of the precedent set by the 1936 version. Lena Horne was considered for, and badly wanted, the role of Julie, but in the USA in 1950 an interracial kiss on screen was still taboo.

William Tuttle was the makeup designer.