Mattie Peters

Active - 1921 - 1926  |   Born - Jan 1, 1885   |   Died - Jul 9, 1927   |   Genres - Crime, Drama, Western, Comedy, War

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Biography by Hans J. Wollstein

The forerunner of all the chubby African-American actresses forever doomed to play "mammies" and parlor maids, Mattie Peters shed that degrading image in the films of Oscar Micheaux, who cast her as the heroine's ill-fated foster-mother in Within Our Gates (1920). That same year, but billed under her married name, Mattie Wilkes, Peters earned the brief role of Lawrence Chenault's equally ill-fated mother in Symbol of the Unconquered, both films still extant. One of the few Micheaux stock company players to cross over into mainstream fare, Peters donned the obligatory apron to portray Ethel Clayton's mammy in Exit the Vamp (1921), added ambiance to the Civil War drama Barbara Frietchie (1924), and even turned up in a Jack Hoxie oater, A Six Shootin' Romance (1926). Her death from peritonitis in 1927 was heavily mourned by the African-American press.