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Paul Robeson's appearance as The Emperor Jones catapulted him to stardom in 1925, and his popularity soared with a 1930 Othello that ran for nearly three hundred performances. He is perhaps best known for his portrayal of Joe in both the stage and movie versions of Show Boat, singing "Ol' Man River." He stopped making films in 1942, explaining, "The industry is not prepared to permit me to portray the life or express the living interests, hopes, and aspirations of the struggling people from whom I come." Robeson's left-wing sentiments became a focal point of anti-Communism in the postwar era, and his American career largely came to an end. He lived abroad, returning to the United States for a farewell concert at Carnegie Hall in 1958; he lived his later years in seclusion in Philadelphia.

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