Movie still of Paul Robeson in Show Boat, 1936.
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Paul Robeson hauling cotton in the movie "Show Boat", 1951

Credit: Image Donated by Corbis-Bettmann

In 1927 Oscar Hammerstein Jr. wrote Show Boat, America's first racially integrated musical, and created the role of Joe, the stevedore who sings "Ol' Man River," specifically for Paul Robeson. Robeson, however, would not the play the role until the 1932 New York revival. Robeson also played Joe in the 1936 film version of the musical.

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