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Sheila Guyse

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Sheila Guyse

Sheila Guyse
Born Etta Drucille Guyse
July 14, 1925
Forest, Mississippi, U.S.
Died December 28, 2013(2013-12-28) (aged 88)
Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.
Cause of death
Alzheimer's disease
Nationality African-American
Other names Shelia Guyse Jackson
Occupation Actress, Singer
Religion Jehovah's Witness (1958 till her death)
Spouse(s) Shelby Irving Miller (divorced); Kenneth Davis (divorced); Joseph Jackson (1958 till his death in 2012)
Children Sheila Crystal Miller; Deidre Jean Jackson and Michael Jackson
Parents Wilbert and Ethel "Williams" Guyse

Etta Drucille Guyse, known as Sheila Guyse, (July 14, 1925 – December 28, 2013) was a popular African-American singer, actress, and recording artist, performing on stage and screen during the 1940s and 1950s, in the Dorothy Dandridge film era.[1]

Early life

Sheila Guyse was born on July 14, 1925 in Forest, Mississippi. She moved with her parents in 1945 to New York City where she worked at a dime store on 125th Street across the street from the Apollo Theatre. [2]

Guyse first got her start in show business by performing in amateur shows. This was common among black performers. She made nightclub debut in 1945 at Club Zombie in Detroit.[3]


She was often compared to Dandridge and it has been said that some critics thought Guyse was a better actress than the more well-known Dandridge. It may be argued that if Sheila had been allowed the opportunity to make an impact in the Hollywood cinema, she would have been stiff competition for the more established actress.[4]

Race films

Guyse had a sultry "girl-next-door" appeal which she showcased in three independent all-Black films (so-called "race films") of the late 1940s: Boy! What a Girl! (1947), Sepia Cinderella (1947, co-starring with Billy Daniels), and Miracle In Harlem (1948) giving impressive performances in all of them. She also appeared in the "Harlem Follies of 1949" and in a 1957 television adaptation of the play The Green Pastures.


Guyse wasn't an experienced or trained actress but she was a natural talent. She made her Broadway debut in the stage production Memphis Bound, which opened in 1945. Guyse was selected to play the feminine lead opposite male lead Bill "Bojangles" Robinson. The show later closed after 36 performances.[3] She also appeared in the Broadway stage productions Lost in the Stars and Finian's Rainbow which were both long-running. Lost in the Stars won a Outer Circle Critics Award. She contributed to cast recordings for these productions, and her singing voice was said to be as beautiful as she was; divine, sweet, easy on the ears whether singing jazz, pop, or gospel.[5]


Sheila Guyse was popular in the 1940s and 1950s, and graced many covers of publications such as Jet, Ebony, and Our World. She also was know to grace the cover of a magazine called Hue.


Sheila Guyse was married three times. She married and divorced Shelby Irving Miller. Miller and Guyse had one daughter, Sheila Crystal Miller as a result of their union. Her most publicized marriage however, was to her second husband, Kenneth Davis. The couple was featured in the article "Negro Women with White Husbands" in the February 1952 issue of Jet. Guyse and Davis met on the set of Finian's Rainbow where Davis was a dancer. They got married in Philidelphia, but spend the majority of their marriage in Bronx, NY.[6] In 1954 Ken Davis and Sheila Guyse announced that they would end their marriage.[7] Guyse later married Joseph Jackson in 1958. She met Jackson as a sanitation worker in New York. They had two children as a result of their marriage, Deidre Jean Jackson and Michael Jackson. Guyse later converted to Jehovah's Witness due to her marriage to Jackson. Jackson and Guyse stayed married until her death in 2012.[1]


Shelia Guyse's health played a very important role in her career as a performer and entertainer. She struggled with her heath many times throughout her career which caused her to turn down various roles and even take time away from the entertainment industry. In 1953, she was diagnosed with stomach ulcers a day after she had accepted a role in the Broadway stage production Mile High.[8] She later came back to the entertainment industry in 1958 to record her only studio album "This is Sheila".[1] Although she attempted to make a career comeback she struggled to get back into industry. She died of complications due to Alzheimer's disease on December 28, 2013 at the age of 88.[9]

External links

  • IMDB Profile


  1. ^ a b c
  2. ^ Sampson, Henry (1995). Blacks in Black and White. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow. p. 524. 
  3. ^ a b Sampson, Henry (1995). Blacks in Black and White:A Source Book on Black Films. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow. p. 524. 
  4. ^ "Sheila Guyse profile". IMDB. Retrieved 26 August 2012. 
  5. ^ "Sheila Guyse - Our sweetheart". Retrieved 26 August 2012. 
  6. ^ "Jet". Feb 21, 1952. Retrieved 1 Dec 2014. 
  7. ^ "Jet". September 16, 1954. 
  8. ^ "Jet". Jan 29, 1953. 
  9. ^
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