I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (film)

Last updated
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
I Know Why..jpg
VHS Cover
Written by Maya Angelou
Directed by Fielder Cook
Starring Constance Good
Esther Rolle
Music by Peter Matz
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
Executive producer(s) Thomas W. Moore
Producer(s) Jean Moore Edwards
Cinematography Ralph Woolsey
Editor(s) Frank J. Urioste
Running time96 minutes
Production company(s) Tomorrow Entertainment
Distributor CBS
Original networkCBS
Original release
  • April 28, 1979 (1979-04-28)

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is an American television film based on the autobiography of the same name by Maya Angelou, first aired April 28, 1979 on CBS. Angelou and Leonora Thuna wrote the screenplay, and the movie was directed by Fielder Cook. Constance Good played the young Maya Angelou. Also appearing were Esther Rolle, Roger E. Mosley, Diahann Carroll, Ruby Dee, and Madge Sinclair. Filming took place in Vicksburg, Mississippi.

The movie traces Maya's life from when she and her brother move in with their grandmother to the trauma of being raped as a young girl by one of her mother's boyfriends and the several years of silence that came after the attack.

Two scenes in the movie differed from events described in the book. Angelou added a scene between Maya and Uncle Willie after the Joe Louis fight. In it, he expresses his feelings of redemption after Louis defeats a white opponent. Angelou also presents her eighth-grade graduation differently in the film. In the book, Henry Reed delivers the valedictory speech and leads the black audience in the Negro national anthem. In the movie, Maya conducts these activities.


(in credits order)

Related Research Articles

Diahann Carroll American actress and singer

Diahann Carroll was an American actress, singer, model, and activist. She rose to prominence in some of the earliest major studio films to feature Black casts, including Carmen Jones (1954) and Porgy and Bess (1959). In 1962, Carroll won a Tony Award for best actress, a first for an African American woman, for her role in the Broadway musical No Strings. In 1974 she starred in Claudine alongside James Earl Jones for which she received an Academy Award for Best Actress nomination.

Maya Angelou American poet, author, and civil rights activist

Maya Angelou was an American poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist. She published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, several books of poetry, and is credited with a list of plays, movies, and television shows spanning over 50 years. She received dozens of awards and more than 50 honorary degrees. Angelou is best known for her series of seven autobiographies, which focus on her childhood and early adult experiences. The first, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), tells of her life up to the age of 17 and brought her international recognition and acclaim.

Esther Rolle American actress

Esther Rolle was an American actress. Rolle is best known for her role as Florida Evans, on the CBS television sitcom Maude, for two seasons (1972–1974), and its spin-off series Good Times, for five seasons, for which Rolle was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress - Television Series Musical or Comedy in 1976. In 1979, Rolle accepted the Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Special for the television film Summer of My German Soldier.

<i>I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings</i> 1969 autobiography about the early years of African-American writer and poet Maya Angelou

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is a 1969 autobiography describing the early years of American writer and poet Maya Angelou. The first in a seven-volume series, it is a coming-of-age story that illustrates how strength of character and a love of literature can help overcome racism and trauma. The book begins when three-year-old Maya and her older brother are sent to Stamps, Arkansas, to live with their grandmother and ends when Maya becomes a mother at the age of 16. In the course of Caged Bird, Maya transforms from a victim of racism with an inferiority complex into a self-possessed, dignified young woman capable of responding to prejudice.

Ruby Dee American actress

Ruby Dee was an American actress, poet, playwright, screenwriter, journalist, and civil rights activist. She originated the role of "Ruth Younger" in the stage and film versions of A Raisin in the Sun (1961). Her other notable film roles include The Jackie Robinson Story (1950) and Do the Right Thing (1989).

Juanita Moore

Juanita Moore was an American film, television, and stage actress.

Constance Moore Actress, singer

Constance Moore was an American singer and actress. Her most noted work was in wartime musicals such as Show Business and Atlantic City and the classic 1939 movie serial Buck Rogers, in which she played Wilma Deering, the only female character in the serial.

<i>How to Make an American Quilt</i>

How to Make an American Quilt is a 1995 American drama film based on the 1991 novel of the same name by Whitney Otto. Directed by Jocelyn Moorhouse, the film features Winona Ryder, Anne Bancroft, Ellen Burstyn, Kate Nelligan and Alfre Woodard. It also marked Jared Leto’s film debut. The film received a nomination for the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture.

<i>Sister, Sister</i> (1982 film) 1982 television film directed by John Berry

Sister, Sister is a 1982 American drama television movie written by Maya Angelou and starring Diahann Carroll, Rosalind Cash, and Irene Cara. The film tells the story of three sisters who come together to decide the fate of their family home after the death of their revered father. Originally filmed in February 1979, the film was shelved for three years before debuting on June 7, 1982 on NBC.

Oprah Winfreys Legends Ball

Oprah Winfrey's Legends Ball was a three-day celebration held by Oprah Winfrey honoring twenty-five African American women in art, entertainment, and civil rights.

Esther Muir

Esther Muir was a character actress on Broadway and in Hollywood films.

<i>Down in the Delta</i> 1998 American drama film by Maya Angelou

Down in the Delta is a 1998 American drama film, directed by Maya Angelou. It is the only film she directed. The film stars Alfre Woodard, Al Freeman, Jr., Esther Rolle, Loretta Devine, and Wesley Snipes.

The 38th NAACP Image Awards ceremony, presented by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), honored the best in film, television, music of 2006 and took place on March 2, 2007 at the Shrine Auditorium. The show was televised live on Fox at 8 p.m. EST and hosted by LL Cool J. The nominees were announced on January 7, 2007, at a press conference in at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. The winners and nominees are shown below. The winners are indicated in bold.

Diana Sands American actress

Diana Patricia Sands was an American actress, perhaps most known for her portrayal of Beneatha Younger, the sister of Sidney Poitier's character in the original stage and film versions of Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun (1961).

Dorothy Alison Australian stage, film, and television actress

Dorothy Alison was an Australian stage, film and television actress.

<i>A Song Flung Up to Heaven</i> Maya Angelous sixth autobiography book

A Song Flung Up to Heaven is the sixth book in author Maya Angelou's series of autobiographies. Set between 1965 and 1968, it begins where Angelou's previous book All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes ends, with Angelou's trip from Accra, Ghana, where she had lived for the past four years, back to the United States. Two "calamitous events" frame the beginning and end of the book—the assassinations of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. Angelou describes how she dealt with these events and the sweeping changes in both the country and in her personal life, and how she coped with her return home to the U.S. The book ends with Angelou at "the threshold of her literary career", writing the opening lines to her first autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

Themes in Maya Angelous autobiographies Themes including racism, identity, family, and travel

The themes encompassed in African-American writer Maya Angelou's seven autobiographies include racism, identity, family, and travel. Angelou (1928–2014) is best known for her first autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969). The rest of the books in her series are Gather Together in My Name (1974), Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas (1976), The Heart of a Woman (1981), All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes (1986), A Song Flung Up to Heaven (2002), and Mom & Me & Mom (2013).

Jayne Meadows filmography

This is the complete filmography of actress Jayne Meadows