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Maide Norman



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1912 in Georgia
At the risk of incurring groans for a clumsy pun, we must note that African-American actress Maidie Norman has been consigned to numerous "maid-y" parts in her long screen career. Most of Maidie's film assignments have been as domestics of some sort or other, which was unfortunately to be expected in the white-bread '50s; a handful of the actress' role were, however, wholly worthy of her talents. Her first film was The Burning Cross (1948), a sincere if low-budget attack on the KKK in which she played the wife of that ubiquitous black character actor Joel Fluellen. Maidie followed this with The Well (1951), another of a brief cycle of '50s films to explore black-white relationships. But once such films were labelled as "leftist" by the Communist hunters of the era, Maidie found herself accepting more and more roles where she played subserviently to white stars. Busy in both films and TV into the '70s, Maidie surprisingly continued to play maids even as Hollywood became more sensitive towards stereotyping; as Olivia De Havilland's faithful servant in Airport '77, she endured a Hattie McDaniel-like scene in which she died in her employer's arms. Maidie's best screen appearance, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane (1962), was as yet another domestic. Playing the no-nonsense housekeeper of Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, Maidie discovers Davis' potentially homicidal intentions for Joan, whereupon she defiantly announces her plans to go to the police. Since this happens at the film's halfway point, just guess how the homicidal Davis "serves notice" to the hapless Maidie Norman. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
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