Carolynne Snowden, c. 1920s
“[Snowden] billed herself as Creole Carolynne and hired her own group of chorus girls and began directing, choreographing, and producing her revues. `Creole Carolynne Snowden with Her Dark-Town Tantalizers and Dancing Creoles” was how she publicized when she presented her revue Narcisse Noir. At Frank Sebastian’s Cotton Club, she was “The Queen of Jazz,” when she appeared in a cast of forty dancers, singers, and other entertainers.
In this age of the flapper when Clara Bow and Joan Crawford were heating up the screen, Snowden believed she, too, had the goods to make it in the movies…Finally, the studios hired Snowden - not as an actress, but to teach jazz dancing to such white stars as Constance Talmadge and Bessie Love and the Charleston to Joan Crawford. Some on-screen work came her way, too. She danced in von Stroheim’s The Merry Widow and played small roles in The Gilded Butterfly, Orchids and Ermine, and Lois Weber’s The Marriage Clause. Maintaining a backbreaking schedule, she performed in the clubs, often two or maybe three shows a night. Then she went to her home on East Fifty-fifth street for a few hours of sleep, usually no more than four. By 8:00 AM, she was at one studio or another. Snowden seemed determined to be the first black woman to make it in Hollywood. Not as a character actress, but as a sexy goddess.”