Actor, writer and director Noble Johnson was a successful Hollywood character actor who appeared in 144 films over the course of his film career. During the Silent Movie Era, his 6’2 frame allowed him to play a variety of characters and races in westerns, serials and adventure films including, “The Mummy” with Boris Karloff and “King Kong” (1933). However, Johnson saw himself playing more than the limited and often offensive roles that were offered to him and other Black actors at the time.
Noble Johnson as 'the Native Chief' in King Kong (1933)
In 1916, he and his brother George founded the Black-Owned and Operated production studio, Lincoln Motion Picture Company. Johnson used earnings from his acting work to fund the studio’s projects, producing five films before the company closed in 1921, most of which are now lost. His studio became the birthplace of the “race film” genre, inspiring others to follow in his footsteps, including novelist and filmmaker Oscar Micheaux.
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Assia Micheaux is co-founder and editor of www.reelcultured.com