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Marian Cullers

Advertising executive Marian Barnett Cullers was born in 1927 in Webster Grove, Missouri. She graduated from Douglass High School in 1943 before attending Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri. She transferred to the University of Illinois at Champaign in 1945 where she graduated with her B.A. degree. In 1946, Cullers married Vince Cullers, a graduate of the Chicago Art Institute and apprentice at Kling Studios in Chicago. The two opened an advertising art studio in 1947.

Frustrated with the lack of work, the Cullers opened Vince Cullers Advertising Agency, Inc. in 1956, the first black advertising agency in the United States. While her husband was behind the art, Cullers was in charge of office administration. Their first major national client came in 1968 with the Lorillard Tobacco Company who hired the Cullers to create a Newport cigarette campaign. That same year, the agency was chosen to market the Johnson Products Company’s Afro-Sheen product line. Cullers was named vice president of the agency and was a finalist for Chicago Advertising Woman of the Year. The firm was restructured in 1997 and dubbed “the oldest, newest African American ad agency.” In 2002, Cullers and her husband retired leaving their son Jeffrey to head the agency.

Marian Cullers was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on May 28, 2010.

Accession Number

A2010.037

Sex

Female

Interview Date

5/28/2010

Last Name

Cullers

Maker Category
Marital Status

Widow

Schools

Frederick Douglass High School

University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign

Lincoln University

First Name

Marian

Birth City, State, Country

Urbana

HM ID

CUL01

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hawaii

Favorite Quote

Everything Is In Divine Order And God Is In Charge.$

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Interview Description
Birth Date

?

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Fish

Short Description

Advertising executive Marian Cullers (? - ) was the co-founder of Vince Cullers Advertising, the first black advertising agency in the United States.

Employment

Vince Cullers Advertising

Favorite Color

Blue, Pink

Timing Pairs
0,0:1036,31:3182,89:3700,98:16806,252:25519,333:25964,343:27121,359:27566,364:36140,439:36884,447:42474,494:46170,619:47754,641:48370,656:56964,726:57332,731:61748,873:64692,938:71746,981:77720,1102:78710,1117:79790,1142:83390,1210:86336,1223:86912,1233:87232,1239:87552,1246:88128,1257:88512,1268:89600,1298:89856,1303:90560,1318:94960,1393:110090,1517:110906,1611:146406,2036:149850,2051:155273,2164:175670,2396:192356,2553:216480,2773$0,0:672,8:1092,15:1848,25:3024,43:13256,340:13646,346:15674,380:17702,407:18326,416:20276,469:25768,519:26356,555:26944,565:30640,613:32992,664:33412,670:35932,709:40115,725:45557,795:50541,940:51431,953:52054,961:53923,1005:55347,1023:55703,1028:56326,1036:57394,1057:57750,1062:64840,1112:65808,1127:71240,1183:72440,1207:72740,1230:79486,1306:80662,1327:81754,1346:82174,1352:83434,1375:104844,1701:105192,1706:115710,1780:129453,1923:129745,1928:130037,1933:137292,2054:139752,2110:144730,2155
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Marian Cullers' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Marian Cullers lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Marian Cullers describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Marian Cullers recalls her maternal family's relocation to Champaign, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Marian Cullers describes her relationship with her mother

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Marian Cullers describes her father's education and career

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Marian Cullers recalls how her parents met and married

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Marian Cullers describes the racial discrimination in Mattoon, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Marian Cullers recalls her parents' marital separation

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Marian Cullers describes her parents' personalities and who she takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Marian Cullers remembers her home life

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Marian Cullers talks about her mother's occupation

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Marian Cullers describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Marian Cullers recalls her early childhood in Champaign, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Marian Cullers describes the sights, sounds and smells of childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Marian Cullers recalls her experiences in Webster Groves, Missouri

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Marian Cullers talks about her early education

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Marian Cullers recalls her career aspirations

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Marian Cullers describes the role of church in her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Marian Cullers recalls her classmates at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Marian Cullers recalls her extracurricular activities at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Marian Cullers remembers segregation in Jefferson City, Missouri

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Marian Cullers talks about her professors at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Marian Cullers recalls meeting her husband, Vince Cullers

Tape: 2 Story: 14 - Marian Cullers describes her husband's personality

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Marian Cullers recalls her husband's tenure at Kling Studios, Inc.

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Marian Cullers recalls her husband's work for George Johnson

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Marian Cullers describes Vince Cullers Advertising, Inc.

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Marian Cullers recalls the first major account at Vince Cullers Advertising, Inc.

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Marian Cullers talks about the other black advertising agencies

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Marian Cullers recalls working with the Illinois Service Federal Savings and Loan Association

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Marian Cullers recalls the early campaigns by Vince Cullers Advertising, Inc.

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Marian Cullers remembers the Brother in the Blue Dashiki campaign

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Marian Cullers talks about working with the Lorillard Tobacco Company

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Marian Cullers remembers 'Lu's Notebook'

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Marian Cullers talks about black advertising executives in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Marian Cullers describes her role at Vince Cullers Advertising, Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Marian Cullers recalls the milestones at the Vince Cullers Advertising, Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Marian Cullers recalls the major accounts at the Vince Cullers Advertising, Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Marian Cullers recalls her nomination as the Chicago Advertising Woman of the Year

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Marian Cullers recalls her favorite advertising campaign

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Marian Cullers talks about the Communications Excellence to Black Audiences awards

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Marian Cullers talks about the portrayal of African Americans in advertisments

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Marian Cullers talks about her son's advertising firm

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Marian Cullers reflects upon the legacy of Vince Cullers Advertising, Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Marian Cullers recalls the models hired by Vince Cullers Advertising, Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Marian Cullers describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 4 Story: 13 - Marian Cullers talks about her sons

Tape: 4 Story: 14 - Marian Cullers remembers her parents' support

Tape: 4 Story: 15 - Marian Cullers talks about the black community's perceptions of advertising

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Marian Cullers reflects upon her career

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Marian Cullers remembers housing discrimination in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Marian Cullers shares her hopes for the future of the Vince Cullers Group

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Marian Cullers describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Marian Cullers narrates her photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Marian Cullers narrates her photographs, pt. 2

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$4

DAStory

13$8

DATitle
Marian Cullers recalls meeting her husband, Vince Cullers
Marian Cullers talks about the portrayal of African Americans in advertisments
Transcript
When you were getting ready to graduate, had you--did you have a job lined up or did you have any ideas?$$Yeah. I, I, I lined up Vince [Vince Cullers].$$Okay. Now, how did you and Vince meet?$$Okay. My--he was in the [U.S. military] service with my cousin. And I had sent my cousin a picture of me, and Vince said--only he could tell this story. When he said when Gene [ph.] showed him the picture, he said, "I got to meet her." And when he came home on leave, I didn't know him. And my grandmother [Ava Barnett] who lived with my [paternal] aunt in Webster [Webster Groves, Missouri], she said, "Some man keeps calling you up." You know how older people are. They'd get into a discussion like that, and she said, "I keep telling him that you are away at school [at Lincoln University, Jefferson City, Missouri] and you're not going to be in until such and such a time," you know, what have you. But he was persistent. He kept calling until--. I mean, he'd called back when she told him to, which was several--because I would go home lots. Missouri Pacific [Missouri Pacific Railroad] ran from Jefferson City [Missouri] into St. Louis [Missouri], and that's what I would catch going home to spend time. And I went home quite often, because it wasn't but about an hour and something's ride from Jefferson City. And so, I looked up one day and there stood a man in a raincoat and that was Vince. He tracked me.$$Okay. So what did you say to him and what did he say to you?$$I don't know (laughter). I guess hello. But it wasn't a--I was still in school, so, you know, he didn't stay down there that long. And then there was a hiatus in there, and then I transferred into Champaign, and--$$To the University of Illinois [University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign-Urbana, Illinois].$$Um-hm.$$Okay.$$Then I looked up and one day when I came home, my mother [Edna Glover Johnson] said, "There's a man who's been calling you and he wants to come by here." And I said, "What kind of man," you know, "Who?" You know, "What?" Because I was dating then. And so, she knew his name and she called it. So he did call me, and he came by, you know, to see me. And he was just down there for a day in Champaign [Illinois]. And after that, you know, he kept in touch until we got married.$$Okay. Oh, you kept in touch until you (laughter) (unclear).$$Well, it didn't happen that fast (laughter). Don't get me wrong. But that's the way--you said, "How did you meet?"$$Yes.$$And that's how we met. And, of course, over a period of time, you know, we became fond of each other and then married.$$Okay. Now, what day did you--when did you all get married? What year was that?$$We got married in March the 1st in '46 [1946].$$Nineteen forty-six [1946].$You all make a conscious effort in Cullers Advertising [Vince Cullers Advertising, Inc.; Vince Cullers Group, Chicago, Illinois] to--well, you already said that you did, but I, I notice when I'd see ads that Cullers would do, and Burrell [Burrell Advertising Agency; Burrell Communications Group, Chicago, Illinois] especially, I would see black women with natural hair. I'd see images of Africa. I'd see positive images of black people. Did you have some kind of a special, I mean, a code that you would--I mean of what you wanted to portray, how you wanted to portray black folks on--$$Yeah, that's what I'm saying. His whole thing was that he was stressing black pride, and along with trying to make a living. And he never gave up on that. He continued to do it. And I don't know what Burrell [HistoryMaker Thomas J. Burrell] had to do with it. I think Burrell, you know, copied after us, Barbara [Barbara Gardner Proctor] too. After we got started with it, you know, and they saw that it was taking hold, then they started doing, you know, the same thing. Not only did they start doing it, but the white agencies started doing it. And this is where they began to hire blacks by the droves at that time. And at one time, you couldn't put your foot in the door. Okay.$$So it's some kind--at some point there's a recognition of the black dollar being spent and advertising, advertising's trying to make sure that they went after the black--$$Who was making sure?$$I guess the advertisers were trying to attract black consumers or going after the black consuming public, right?$$Yeah, well, though only that I can only speak from Vince's [Cullers' husband, Vince Cullers] side of it. He went after the accounts. So he was trying to earn a living and, as I said, as well as stressing the pride issue along with it. You can't live off of pride, you got to have something else. And he did stress that, but he also knew that he had to produce. And they finally honored him last year. Jeff [Cullers' son, Jeffery Cullers] and I went to New York [New York], you know, 'cause they honored Vince as being a pioneer in that, you know, direction.

Gertrude Hadley Jeannette

Playwright, producer, director, and actress of the stage and screen, Gertrude Hadley Jeannette, was born in Urbana, Arkansas, on November 28, 1914, to Willis Lawrence Hadley and Salley Gertrude Crawford Hadley. Jeannette was raised in Arkansas where she attended Dunbar High School in Little Rock. Just before her high school graduation, Jeannette decided that she wanted to get married instead of attending Fisk University, as she had previously planned; she and Joe Jeannette, II, a prizefighter and the president of the Harlem Dusters, a motorcycle club, eloped to New York City in 1934.

In New York City, Jeannette learned to drive; in 1935 she became the first woman to get a license to drive a motorcycle. In 1942, because of the shortage of male taxicab drivers caused by the war, Jeannette became one of the first women to drive a cab in New York City. During this time, Jeannette decided to further her education; she took bookkeeping classes in the basement of Abyssinian Baptist Church, and speech classes at the American Negro Theatre in order to remedy her speech impediments. In 1945, Jeannette was cast in the lead role in Our Town; in 1950, she performed in her first play, This Way Foreward. That same year, Jeannette and Fred O’Neil appeared on television in James Weldon Johnson’s Gods Trombone on CBS’s General Electric Hour; she had replaced Pearl Bailey, who was originally cast in that role. As a result, Jeannette continued to work both in the theatre and in film and television; she went on to play roles in Broadway plays such as Lost In The Stars, Amen Corner, and The Great White Hope. Some of Jeannette’s film credits included Shaft, Black Girl, and Cotton Comes To Harlem.

In 1979, Jeannette founded the H.A.D.L.E.Y. Players (Harlem Artists Development League Especially for You) in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City. The mission of the H.A.D.L.E.Y. Players was to give artists a chance to develop their talents and skills in the theatre, and to enrich the cultural life in Harlem. Jeannette went on to direct, produce, and write her own plays, as well as the works of other playwrights.

Jeannette was presented with several awards for her work and accomplishments. In 1991, Jeannette was honored as a living legend at the National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and in 1998, she was honored with the Lionel Hampton Legacy Award. Jeannette was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 1999, and in 2002, she received the prestigious Paul Robeson Award from the Actor’s Equity Association. Jeanette, though retired, remained an active and celebrated member of the New York theater scene well into her nineties.

Jeannette passed away on April 4, 2018 at age 103.

Accession Number

A2005.133

Sex

Female

Interview Date

6/9/2005

Last Name

Jeannette

Maker Category
Middle Name

Hadley

Schools

Paul Laurence Dunbar High School

College Station Elementary School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Gertrude

Birth City, State, Country

Urbana

HM ID

JEA01

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Arkansas

Favorite Quote

Go Well And Stay Well.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Interview Description
Birth Date

11/28/1914

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Greens (Mixed), Cornbread

Death Date

4/4/2018

Short Description

Actress, stage director, and playwright Gertrude Hadley Jeannette (1914 - 2018 ) founded the H.A.D.L.E.Y. Players theater company in Harlem, York City.

Employment

City of New York

Various Broadway Plays

Favorite Color

Purple

Timing Pairs
0,0:9739,126:11764,203:17758,429:19540,469:23833,528:43118,658:44942,690:45326,695:46094,705:46766,714:52046,812:52910,850:65434,970:66682,1000:66994,1005:69958,1078:77436,1127:88060,1277:108187,1536:110690,1597:115380,1713:134414,1939:135415,1965:135954,1973:144312,2059:144648,2064:146076,2083:148680,2189:149604,2212:155000,2286$0,0:4620,210:19254,344:38970,613:55610,818:56267,830:57727,848:66005,952:73686,1102:74310,1113:74700,1119:75090,1125:77230,1133:77896,1143:78192,1148:91795,1355:92095,1360:95320,1413:95620,1418:96370,1431:96670,1436:96970,1441:99370,1479:106748,1544:107300,1549
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Gertrude Hadley Jeannette's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette describes her maternal ancestors' life on the Cherokee reservation

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette describes her mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette describes how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette describes her experiences in grade school

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette recalls her high school experience in Little Rock, Arkansas

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette recalls eloping with Joe Jeannette, II

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette describes reconciling with her parents after her marriage

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette recalls continuing her education in New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette remembers becoming the first female motorcyclist in New York

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette remembers becoming the first female taxi driver in New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette describes joining the American Negro Theater

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette recalls working in summer stock theater

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette describes her experiences with New York City's American Negro Theater

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette recalls her friendship with Frank Silvera

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette recalls appearing in 'Lost in the Stars' on Broadway

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette recalls touring with the musical 'Lost in the Stars'

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette recalls early African American movie stars

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette recalls the McCarthy Era

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette describes performing in 'The Little Foxes'

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette remembers Paul Robeson, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette remembers Paul Robeson, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette recalls appearing in James Baldwin's play, 'The Amen Corner'

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette reflects upon her Broadway acting career

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette describes her acting philosophy

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette describes founding the H.A.D.L.E.Y. Players

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette describes running the H.A.D.L.E.Y. Players in New York City, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette describes running the H.A.D.L.E.Y. Players in New York City, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette describes her concerns for African American theater

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette reflects upon her life

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette recalls African American prizefighters

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette reflects upon her family life

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette narrates her photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette narrates her photographs, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Gertrude Hadley Jeannette narrates her photographs, pt. 3

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$4

DAStory

6$8

DATitle
Gertrude Hadley Jeannette remembers becoming the first female taxi driver in New York City
Gertrude Hadley Jeannette describes founding the H.A.D.L.E.Y. Players
Transcript
When was it that you became the first woman to get a (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Taxi driver?$$Yeah, woman taxi driver.$$That was in '42 [1942].$$Okay. Now that's the same--$$You see that was when World War II [WWII] started.$$That's '41 [1941].$$They advertised in the paper, they said that so many men were being taken, and that they were gonna have to train women to drive the cabs (background noise). Women were going into plants and everything else, taking over jobs that men, you know, and I said, "Well I know one thing, I can drive a car. I don't know nothing about working over there in those plants and things." But I went down and got an application, and they gave me a book about the city and whatnot, but I had ridden all over Brooklyn [New York], and everywhere on that motorcycle with my husband [Joe Jeanette, II] and in the cars. I pretty much knew more than the cab drivers knew anyway. But I took the book, and I'm a quick study. I got the main streets in Brooklyn, the main streets and whatnot. So when they came up for the test, I took the oral test and then they--now the men don't have to do this. If they get a driver's license, they don't have to take the test. And you know these drivers, these cab drivers today, they--you have to tell them where to go and how to get there because they don't know anything. But we had to take a test and they would say such and such. "If I'm on Central Park West at 86th Street and Central Park West and I wanna go to 120 Broadway. How would you get there? What is the nearest way?" And I would--I would tell 'em. I said, "If you wanna go through the city, that will be the nearest way. The quickest way would be to go and get the drive, then go down and you'll come off at South Ferry [Street], and then you go to Broadway, and then you go down to 120." And I passed the test. That day, thirty-two of us took the test and only two of us passed. But the other girl didn't get her license because she had citations on her driver's license. And so I, I was the first. And I made every paper in New York [New York], we had six papers. We had the Journal [New York Journal-American], the [New York Daily] Mirror, The [New York] Times, the New York [Daily] News. I made every paper.$$That's wonderful--$Tell me about the H.A.D.L.E.Y. Players. Now when did the H.A.D.L.E.Y. Players start, and we know how it got named, right? Those who have heard the first part of this interview know that Hadley is your maiden name and your father's [Willis Hadley] name, right?$$No, well when we organized, when we left the Our Theater and we went over to the place, rented the--over at St. Philip's.$$St. Philip's Episcopal Church [New York, New York]?$$Yeah.$$Okay.$$We got the whole basement down there. And we gonna be closing down for the summer for some new renovations and whatnot. But they said, what are we gonna call this group? Cause we're gonna--this group is--we're gonna hold onto this group. Well I had been teaching in the CETA [Comprehensive Employment and Training Act] program, and when that closed down, I got some of the people, you know, from that to come in with me. And we were thinking of a name. And they didn't wanna use Our Theater. They said, "Ms. Jeannette [HistoryMaker Gertrude Hadley Jeannette], why don't we call it the Jeannette Theater?" I said, "No, we're not gone make it personal. We're gonna make it something that everybody, all of us, it will belong to all of us." They said, "What is your maiden name?" I said, "Hadley." They said, "Why can't we call it the Hadley Theater?" I said, "No, won't call it Hadley." So they said, "Well give us some time to think it over." So they went out and they came back and they said, "How 'bout Harlem Artists Development League Especially for You?" I said I'll buy that.