“Let’s all nod in appreciation to Donald Bogle for putting everything in historical perspective…Mr. Bogle continues to be our most noted Black-cinema historian.” – Spike Lee, writing on Donald Bogle
Donald Bogle, the author of the highly acclaimed book Dorothy Dandridge: A Biography, is one of the foremost authorities on African Americans in the movies. In May 2019, his new book for TCM—Hollywood Black: The Stars, The Films, The Filmmakers—will be published. In this lavishly illustrated history, which includes dazzling color photographs, Bogle continues his remarkable work of chronicling and documenting the contributions of African Americans to our national cinema and popular culture. His iconic book Toms, Coons, Mulattoes, Mammies, and Bucks: An Interpretive History of Blacks in American Films is considered a classic study of Black movie images in America and, now in its fifth edition, it is used in film courses at colleges and universities throughout the country. Also, now considered a classic volume is his absorbing social history Bright Boulevards, Bold Dreams: The Story of Black Hollywood, which New York Times film critic Manohla Dargis recently wrote, “Charts the underknown, essential, often fascinating, at times heartbreaking story of the African-Americans who helped build the movie industry (and keep it running) both in front of the camera and behind it.”
A new updated, expanded edition of his book Brown Sugar: Over A Hundred Years of America’s Black Female Superstars—which is a stunning examination of the lives and careers of African American women from the early years of the 20th century to the present, from Bessie Smith and Josephine Baker up to today’s Beyoncé—has also been published. Brown Sugar was previously adapted by Bogle into a four-hour, four-part documentary series for PBS. He is also the author of such praised books as Primetime Blues: African Americans on Network Television and Blacks in American Films and Television: An Illustrated Encyclopedia. Library Journal called his recent book, Heat Wave: The Life and Career of Ethel Waters, “an exemplary biography…Bogle masterfully uses Waters’s story to examine the economic, aesthetic and racial politics of the 1920s-60s popular culture. This work is everything a biography should be.”
Last year, Bogle released his book Elizabeth and Michael: The Queen of Hollywood and The King of Pop, A Love Story. The late columnist Liz Smith devoted an entire column to praising the book. “A surprisingly comprehensive, sensitive and entertaining look at Taylor and Jackson, and not just their friendship,” Smith wrote. “Bogle has, essentially, written three books in one: Taylor’s biography, Jackson’s and the tale of their mutual coming together, the how and why. . . The writer knows his subjects and his back-and-forth bios of Taylor and Jackson are extremely well done.”
Bogle also conceived and co-hosted for the Turner Classic Movie channel the award-winning 38-film series called Race and Hollywood. He has appeared as a commentator in numerous documentaries, including the seven-part series on the history of Hollywood titled Moguls and Movie Stars; also Spike Lee’s Jim Brown: All-American; HBO’s Mo’ Funny: Black Comedy in America; and the American Movie Classic channel’s Small Steps…Big Strides, which chronicled the history of African Americans in motion pictures. His articles have appeared in such publications as Film Comment, Ebony, Elan, and Essence. He has curated major retrospectives on Sidney Poitier at the American Museum of the Moving Image and on Dorothy Dandridge at New York’s Film Forum, as well as retrospectives on Blaxploitation Cinema and on images of African American women in the movies, also at Film Forum. He previously served on the board of Film Forum and has lectured on Black movie history throughout the United States, as well as in parts of Africa, Asia and Europe. During his stay in South Africa, he lectured in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durbin. In Pretoria, the American Ambassador and his wife hosted a dinner in Bogle’s honor.
Over the years, Bogle has also appeared on such television programs such as The Today Show, Good Morning America, Entertainment Tonight, Nightline, NBC Nightly News and many others.
Presently, he teaches at both the University of Pennsylvania and New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. He divides his time between New York and Los Angeles.