Smithsonian accepts costumes from pioneering performer Diosa Costello

Repeating Islands

In her heyday Diosa Costello was billed as the “Latin Bombshell” and helped to break the barriers in Hollywood and on Broadway for Latino performers. In recognition of her groundbreaking career, the National Museum of American History accepted 11 costumes from Costello for its entertainment collections, Jacqueline Trescott reports in The Washington Post.
Costello, now 94, was born in Puerto Rico but got her start singing in New York’s Spanish Harlem. In 1939 she appeared in George Abbot’s “Too Many Girls,” a musical. Later she replaced Juanita Hall as Bloody Mary in the landmark Rodgers and Hammerstein play “South Pacific.”

Her career included movies, starting with “They Met in Argentina” in 1941 and Laurel and Hardy’s “The Bullfighters” in 1945. In that film Costello sang a song called “Bim, Bam, Bum.”

The gift was part of the museum’s celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. Costello’s story is one that…

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Author: Camara Dia Holloway

I am an art historian specializing in early twentieth century American art with particular focus on the history of photography, race and representation, and transatlantic modernist networks. I earned my PhD at Yale University in the History of Art Department. Besides my leadership role as the Founding Co-Director of the Association for Critical Race Art History (ACRAH), I am recognized for my expertise on African American Art, particularly African American Photography, and as a seasoned consultant for exhibitions, museum collections, and symposia/lectures planning.

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