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Residences - Residence of W. S. Blackmer

The Walter Steele Blackmer residence was located at 425 West Horah Street. Walter Steele and Clara de Roulhac Alderman Blackmer had three sons, Walter, Sidney, and Luke. Blackmer, a local businessman, was the son of Luke Blackmer, a prominent local lawyer.  He was best remembered for his retail clothing business and he was also employed in real estate for several years.  Considered public-spirited and active in his church, Blackmer was well liked.  He died suddenly in October of 1922.

His son Sidney, the best-known member of the family, was born on July 13, 1895.  After leaving the University of North Carolina, Sidney Blackmer arrived in New York in 1917.  He had little experience acting, having just quit his job in the legal department of Southern Bell in Atlanta. His first role, a bit part was in The Morris Dance with Richard Bennett in February 1917.  In 1919 he got his first break. After being cast as the organ grinder in 39 East he replaced Henry Hull as Napoleon Gibbs, the lead.

Blackmer’s professional career included 40 Broadway plays, 200 movies, and numerous television dramas and lasted through six decades.  By far his best role was in Come Back Little Sheba with Shirley Booth for which he won the Tony Award.  He appeared in numerous radio, theatre, movie and television productions.  Blackmer was an activist as well, serving in many capacities in the actors’ guild, and one of the founders of the Actors’ Equity Association.  He was also instrumental in the creation of the NC School of Arts in Winston-Salem, one of the few state-supported schools in America. He was active in charitable organizations, and helped to raise millions of dollars for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. 

He was twice married, first to Lenore Ulric, which ended in divorce.  Shortly after that, he married Suzanne Kaaren, and the couple had two sons.  They maintained a home in Salisbury until their deaths.  Sidney Blackmer died at the age of 78 from cancer, and he was returned to Salisbury to be buried at the Chestnut Hill Cemetery. 

14236 – Theo Buerbaum, Salisbury, N.C. made in Germany. 


Sides, Susan Goodman Salisbury and Rowan County Charleston, SC: Arcadia, c1999

Powell William S., editor Dictionary of North Carolina Biography Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, c1979-c1996

Salisbury Evening Post obituary of W. S. Blackmer 10/28/1922

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