From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Calvin, Mandy

(born: 1850  -  died: 1942) 

Mandy Calvin became an actress in 1941 when she was selected to play the part of an aged native woman in the Hollywood film Tarzan's Secret Treasure, by MGM starring Johnny Weissmuller and Maureen O'Sullivan. Mandy Calvin, supposedly born around 1839, had been a slave in Kentucky, and was living in Los Angeles, CA. She was selected for the film after movie director Richard Thorpe asked talent scouts to find the oldest African American woman. Mandy Calvin's name is not listed in the credits, nor are the names of others who had minor parts in the the film. Mandy Calvin is listed in the 1940 U.S. Federal Census with an estimated birth year of 1849, she lived with her grandson Roy P. Lanier and a lodger named Mary Dews. Mandy Calvin died June 5, 1942, according to the California Death Index, and her birth date is given as April 10, 1850. Her mother's maiden name was Ford and her father's last name was Grist, her parents were from Mississippi. For more see "Ex-slave makes her movie debut at 102," Baltimore Afro-American, 10/18/1941, p.14.; "Woman, 102 years makes screen debut," The Sunday Morning Star, 10/26/1941, p.8; and "Mandy begins career at age 102, estimated," Ogden Standard Examiner, 10/09/1941, p.19.

Outside Kentucky Place Name


Cited in this Entry

NKAA Source: Tarzan's secret treasure (videorecording)
NKAA Source: The Afro-American (newspaper)
NKAA Source: The Sunday morning star (newspaper)
NKAA Source: The Ogden standard (newspaper)

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Calvin, Mandy,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed December 12, 2019,

Last modified: 2019-02-10 14:45:35