Little Known Black History Fact: Pat Rainey

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  • Pat Rainey was a famous showgirl, singer and actress of the late 1940’s. She was the first black singer to appear at exclusive supper clubs, including the famous Zanzibar Night Club. Referred to as a “society girl”, Rainey was described as a stunning beauty. Originally from Boston, Rainey was romantically connected to men such as Joe Louis and King Farouk of Egypt. Her father was prominent black attorney Julian Rainey.

    Though a beloved figure on Broadway, Rainey soon fell into trouble with drugs and prostitution when the jobs were slow. She was arrested when an undercover white police officer offered to meet her at the Spencer Arms Hotel. There, he found Rainey with a hypodermic needle, heroine and a fake prescription for morphine. She was featured in a 1952 Jet Magazine story that covered her trial in a New York women’s court. Using a legal aide lawyer, Rainey was charged with prostitution and for writing a fake prescription for drugs. She was paroled into the custody of her father, who subsequently became her business manager.

    In 1954, Rainey took her career overseas to Europe to work the cabaret circuit. In Rome, she met King Farouk, the former ruler of Egypt at the Kit Kat nightclub. Pat Rainey would be featured in several short black films and European productions like London’s “Into Thin Air.” She appeared in shows from Casablanca to Algiers. Her new manager, Jay Clifford, publicly predicted her career to reach that of famed star Eartha Kitt.

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