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Pioneer for Women and Blacks in the Entertainment Business, Fayrene Treadwell, Dies at 84

Pioneer for Women and Blacks in the Entertainment Business, Fayrene Treadwell, Dies at 84

FayeElizabeth Taylor

Faye Treadwell with The Drifters

BURBANK, CA – Fayrene (Faye) Treadwell, one of the first female African American entertainment managers in history, died last week in BBlackk, CA where she lived with her daughter. She was 84.


The entertainment pioneer passed away after a lengthy illness, according to her daughter, Tina Treadwell, president of Treadwell Entertainment and former VP of Talent and Music Specials at Disney Channel.


After the death of her husband George Treadwell, the legendary manager of the late Sarah Vaughn, Dinah Washington, Ruth Brown, Billie Holiday, and Sammy Davis, Jr, Faye Treadwell bought out her late husband’s former business partners and assumed management and control of The Drifters. The historic deal ultimately resulted in Faye Treadwell becoming one of a handful of women entertainment manager’s in the late 1960’s, and one of the first Black female managers.

Faye Treadwell was not only a tenacious manager, but a steadfast trailblazer with a keen legal mind. Her successful civil action suit to protect the integrity of The Drifters trademark from unauthorized use in commerce set a  precedent in the field of trademark and intellectual property law, and generated lively debate and reflection among leading experts all along the way.


According to Tina Treadwell, one of the highlights of her mother’s illustrious career was when  Faye Treadwell  and The Drifters were invited to the White House to perform at a special event during Bill Clinton’s first term.

Faye and Tina at White House
Faye Treadwell at the White House in 1992 with President Clinton and daughter Tina Treadwell

Although she made her home in Englewood, NJ, Faye Treadwell traveled the world with The Drifters and was primarily based in London, England for over 30 years where she hosted an annual Thanksgiving Party for Americans living abroad.

Fayrene Lavern Treadwell was born on September 5, 1926 in Okolona, AR to the late Rev. James A. Johnson and her surviving 107-year-old mother, Mrs. Sara Mae Johnson (a school teacher). She graduated from Arkansas Baptist College in Little Rock, AR.

In addition to her daughter Tina, Faye Treadwell is survived by her 107-year-old mother, Mrs. Sara Mae Johnson; sisters Imogene Azora and Saundra Arterberry; Godsister Ruth Stokes; Godson Adrian Parasram; nephews Cornell Arterberry, Crandell Arterberry and Reggie Lester; step-daughter Merle Treadwell; and faithful caregivers Betty Williams, Linette Akin-Folarin, and Digna Torres; along with many relatives and many friends worldwide.

In lieu of flowers, the family invites you to make a donation in Faye Treadwell’s name with one of the following three charities: The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, or The Rhythm & Blues Foundation Funeral services will be held in Pasadena, CA and Englewood, NJ. For funeral information visit


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