(Reuters) - The company owned by chef Paula Deen fired its social media manager and apologized on Tuesday after the former TV show host drew fire on her Twitter feed for a photo that showed her son portraying a Latino actor in “brownface,” a spokesman said.
The photo, a still from a Halloween 2011 episode of the now-defunct Paula’s Best Dishes show, immediately drew negative reaction from Deen’s followers.
Many of them said she apparently had not learned from her troubles in 2013 when she admitted in a court deposition that she had once used a racial slur.
Her admission prompted Scripps Networks Interactive Inc to drop Deen’s cooking show from its cable television channel, the Food Network, and cost the Southern culinary star a big chunk of her multimillion-dollar enterprise.
The Twitter photo was posted on Tuesday under the hashtag #transformationtuesday, which celebrates change and invites posts ranging from changing the world to changing your hair color - or, in Bobby Deen’s case, skin color.
Paula and Bobby Deen were dressed as Lucy and Ricky Ricardo from “I Love Lucy.” The younger Deen was wearing makeup to make his face look darker, as well as eyebrow pencil and slicked-back blackened hair. Desi Arnaz, a Cuban-born bandleader who was Lucille Ball’s real-life husband, played Ricky Ricardo in the “Lucy” show.
Deen’s representatives told Reuters on Tuesday that as soon as she saw the photo, she had it removed from the Twitter feed.
“Paula immediately had this picture taken down as soon as she saw the post and apologizes to all who were offended,” the statement said. “As such, Paula Deen Ventures has terminated their relationship with this Social Media Manager.”
This July 7 story corrects the name of Lucille Ball’s real-life husband to Desi Arnaz, not Ricky Ricardo, in paragraph 6)
Reporting by Karen Brooks in Austin and Piya Sinha-Roy in Los Angeles; Editing by Bernard Orr