My personal revelation. . .
"Around 1971, I appeared as a major player in a blackface musical."
Okay, it's not quite that sinister, but it is a rather funny relic of times-gone-by. Circa 1971 I was attending preschool/kindergarten in Little Rock Arkansas. The teachers decided to put on a school-play. And our choice for a play was "Song of the South".
If you're too young to know about "Song of the South", read about it here. It's basically the last and most well-produced of the "happy darkie" musicals. It's not nearly as offensive as some of the earlier productions of its type (and some of the animated bits are still quite clever), but Disney's still not all that proud of it.
Being the tallest kid in my class, I was chosen to play Briar Bear. I had a full dance number that was choreographed to the LP version of the movie. A couple of other kids played the other major roles (Briar Fox, Briar Rabbit) with the rest of the kids playing the minor roles in the film (i.e. the house-servants).
Weirdest part of the whole production, though, was that they brought in an older kid (maybe second or third grade) to play "Uncle Remus". Given that the kid was about 100% whiter than Uncle Remus was supposed to be, they put him in blackface.
I didn't think much of it back then, but looking back at it now it all just seems a bit surreal.
And it's definitely a relic of times-gone-by. Somehow I don't think a kids-only revival of "Song of the South" starring a third-grader in blackface would get much headway today in your local school's drama department.
There *might* be a silent Super-8 recording of the play languishing at my parents' house somewhere. If it's still around, I think my hopes for ever being president are dashed unless I can do that whole Alberto Gonzalez thing.
Lemme practice. . .
Investigator: Mister Hattan, is it true that you once did a dance, in a bear suit, to the tune of "everybody got a laughin' place" in a blackface musical?
Me: I do not recall such a thing ever happening. It might have happened. It might not have happened. I just can't recall.