Gertrude Jeannette, Pioneering Black Actor & 1st Licensed Female Cabbie in NYC

Gertrude Jeannette, recognized as the first woman to become an officially licensed cab driver in New York City, has died at the age of 103.

(Above image of Jeannette with André Womble, b. 1940, by Bert Andrews)

Jeannette's niece confirmed her April 4, 2018, death with The New York Times.

Jeannette — also an early female motorcycle driver — overcame a speech impediment with therapy provided by the American Negro Theater and went on to become a recognized stage and film actress.

Making her Broadway debut in 1949's Lost in the Stars, she also appeared in the productions The Long Dream (1960), Nobody Loves an Albatross (1963), The Amen Corner (1965), The Skin of Our Teeth (1975), and Vieux Carré (1977), the latter of which was written by her close friend Tennessee Williams (1911-1983).

Blacklisted in the '50s, she stayed put in Harlem, writing Afro-centric plays like The Way Forward (1950) and honing her directing skills; she continued to direct until the age of 98.

Jeannette was married to Joe Jeannette from 1933-1956, a bodyguard for the iconic singer and actor Paul Robeson (1898-1976). They had one child, who died at age 5. She is survived by 10 nephews and six nieces.

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