Gerri Major

JET Society Editor Departs for Coronation – Jun 4, 1953

Gerri Major, society editor of JET magazine, left New York’s International Airport en route to London, where she will join an international press corps in cover the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Her social column, “Gerri Major’s Society World,” will be cabeled from London and other European cities, including Munich, Rome, Madrid, and Paris. Miss Major will provide complete coverage of the Coronation for JET readers in special dispatches as well as her society column.


Jun 11, 1953

Among the first people of color I saw in London was Blanche Strickland of Los Angeles and Dallas, Texas, being escorted about London by the Leslie Hutchinson family. Her greatest thrill after the coronation pageant was the dog racing at White City, the Madison Square Garden of London. . . . Dr. Gertrude Curtis Thompson of Los Angeles came in from Paris the day after coronation. Said she hates crowds. Her hostess was Adelaide Hall, who is appearing at the Saville Theater in Love From Judy. The doctor was loaded down with fine leather goods which she had picked up in Italy. . . . The Stanley Milses and Harry Waters of New York City had no hotel worries while in London. They arrived on the S.S. Naussau Coronaiton Cruise and used their ship as a hotel. . . . The Ralph Youngs, also of New York City, commuted from Bristol on Coronation Day. In Bristol they were the house guests of a British couple whom they had met the previous year in Europe. . . . Geneva Valentine of Washington arrived in London for the coronation as official representative of the National Association of Business and Professional Women. . . . Two members of Harlem’s smart Bridgettes–Ida May King and Alberta Osborne–arrived in London via the S.S. Veedam for the coronation weeked and a tour of France and Italy. . . . Aboard the S.S. United States when she docked to disembark coronation guests were Willa and Dr. Edmund Goode and Olga Hill of Manhattan, and Helen Hill Green of Brooklyn. They, too, will visit on the continent. . . . Earliest arrival from the States was Helen Ivy, wife of the Crisis editor, who came over in April for a long holidau with her relatives who are scattered throughout Alfretton, Heanor, Derbyshire, the Midlands and London.

Jun 18, 1953

John Velasco of New York and points around the world did London’s top clubs with a lady from Mexico. . . . Millicent Hines of Brooklyn arrived in London after a holiday in Florence and Paris. . . . Ruth Khama, whose love cost her husband, Seretse Khama, the leadership of his tribe in Beuchanaland, is none too popular with his colored friends. They say her affected Oxford accent is particularly annoying. . . . Dinah Lee, one of the best known Americans in London, is the only shop owner of color in the “Royal” borough of Kensington. She operates a women’s specialty store, but that does not keep her from taking an active part in the civic life of the town. On Coronation Day she conducted a street party in Beversbrook Road where she lives. Among Americans present were Mrs. Geneva K. Valentine, Washington realtor who heads the Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, and Mrs. Blanche Strickland of Dallas, who is vice-president of the Excelsior Life Insurance Co. The night before, she gave a cup, the Dinah Lee coronation trophy, to the Jamaican team which won the open table tennis championship. . . . Boston-born Emma Layton, who has lived in London so many years with her husband, the famous Turner Layton, and daughter, A’Lelia, would like to come back to America. “You live awfully alone over here,” she says, “not because you want to, but because you have to. English people are very stand-offish–even with each other. They can be clubby outside, but seldom invite you to their homes.” The Layton family is the only colored American family in London society. . . . Hardest person to catch up with in London was Rose Stevens of the Lincoln School for Nurses. Her day started early in the morning and ran through to early the next morning.


Sally BlairJET Magazine: Jul 23, 1953

If gentlemen really prefer blondes, as Anita Loos brashly proclaimed in a novel followed up later by a Broadway musical and a Hollywood movie, a brand new crop of Negro performers should be winning more male admirerers than ever before and raking in big dividends in future weeks. In a ceaseless search for gimmicks to brighten their acts, they have turned to cosmetic counters to change brunette hair to blonde.

Not entirely a new fad, the trend toward highlighting the hair with “skunk tail” streaks and grayish-white tinges has been making the rounds in eastern cities for years. Only recently, however, have a handful of entertainers gone whole hog and done their locks entirely in lighter hues.

Newest and perhaps most sizzling “brown blonde” to break into the night club spotlight is Baltimore-born Sally Blair, who did her stage apprenticeship in smalltime Baltimore and Washington cafes, then toured with the Duke Ellington and Johnny Otis bands. Recently she tired of the one-nighter grind, gave up the band business in Los Angeles to have a fling as a single. Says she: “I’m anxious to reach the top in show business, but not over the one-nighter road.”

Like most “brown blondes,” the beauteous Baltimore girl was originally a brunette, who bleached her once auburn tresses to platinum, then dyed them a buttermilk blonde. On stage Sally wears low-cut, slinky gowns to showcase her volumptuous (36-25-37) figure, tosses her shoulder-length hair around in a Bette Davis manner. While strong in the sex appeal department, Sally refuses to count on sex alone to sell her songs. Sally explains: “A singer shouldn’t count on sex alone. I want to make it one talent, too.” Besides, she adds, sex will not “come off” on records.

Another “brown blonde” who has found success on the stage in cocoa-hued Joyce Bryant. When she appeared at Miami’s exclusive Algiers Hotel supper club last winter, resort patrons stared mouths ajar (but approvingly) at her daring silver tint. Her hair-do has done much to popularize the style, also has become pretty much her own trademark. Many persons fail to recognize the shapely Los Angeles singer between retouchings. Another new blonde is veteran Chicago blues singer Dinah Washington who decided to give a new spray-type

Sally Blair

preparation a whirl. Bright lights which bathed the Los Angeles Tiffany Club’s stage gave Dinah’s hair a startling blonde hue and patrons responded with instant applause. Friends told the singer that the preparation made her look years younger and she now uses it regularly as part of her makeup.

Another pace setter in the trend toward blonde hair is model Dorothea Towles. Since returning to the U.S. last year from Paris, where she modeled for some of France’s top designers, the Texas-born beauty has spread the style to many large cities while staging her one-woman fashion shows. Fortunately, American ingenuity has made it easy for Negro girls to go blonde. Retailed (from 59 cents to $1.50) at any drug store counter are numerous spray-type concoctions which transform brunettes to fetching blondes in a matter of minutes. Sprayed on the hair under pressure, the tints last for days, many be applied in dozens of designs and shades. Today it is commonplace to find $40-a-week office girls proudly displaying dazzling blonde hair tints which look every bit as expensive as those of the highly-paid stars. Beauticians claim that up to 80 per cent of their patrons buy hair-tinting services of one kind or another. And the fashion today is as widely accepted as lipstick or nail polish.

Dorothea Towles

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