Gertrude Gipson Penland, a former nightclub owner, showbiz radio commentator and entertainment editor for the Los Angeles Sentinel and a syndicated columnist for numerous African-American newspapers nationwide, died May 25 of pneumonia in Los Angeles. Her age was unreported.
A New Jersey native , she relocated to Los Angeles as a child. She first worked as a writer and entertainment editor for the California Eagle, one of the first African-American newspapers. She later joined the Sentinel, where she served as the entertainment editor and also penned a popular column.
She remained at the Sentinel for more than 30 years, retiring in the early 1990s. She continued to write her Hollywood column called “Gertrude Gipson’s Candid Comments” which was syndicated in more than 120 African-American newspapers.
During the late 1950s, she and her husband, Elledge Penland, operated a nightclub on Western Avenue which showcased up-and-coming African American performers including Bill Cosby and Richard Pryor. she also worked as a publicist for Little Richard, Sam Cooke and Pryor.
She was a well-known advocate of job opportunities for African Americans and other minorities in the entertainment industry. In her later years she had her own daily aired radio talk show on KJLH called, “Hollywood Update,” where she tracked progress of Hollywood jobs for minorities.
Gipson was the first woman and black to be appointed to the California Motion Picture Development Council by then-Gov. Edmund G. “Jerry” Brown, which was established in 1982.
During her long career, Gipson was the recipient of many awards and commendations such as her 1980 Image Award by the NAACP for community service, the National Newspaper Publishers Assn. for “Best Entertainment Section,” Woman of the Year award from the National Assn. of Media Women in 1985, Women for Good Government Award, Los Angeles Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Award, and the Sugar Ray Robinson Foundation Youth Award.
Gipson is survived by two daughters and a brother.