Amos 'n' Andy

CBS (ended 1953)



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Amos 'n' Andy

Show Summary

Alvin Childress and Tim Moore starred in what is considered by some to be the most offensive television program of all time. Despite its controversy, it was also one of first TV shows to have a predominantly black cast.
"Amos 'n' Andy" began as a weekly series airing Thursday nights on CBS. Twenty-seven new episodes were broadcast through January 3, 1952. This was followed by 25 weeks of reruns. When new episodes returned on July 10, 1952, "Amos 'n' Andy" became a bi-weekly series. By June 11, 1953, the date of the final CBS broadcast, only 52 "Amos 'n' Andy" episodes had been aired. An additional 13 episodes premiered in Fall 1953 when the series became nationally syndicated. (In most cities, the syndicated run began with these 13 new episodes, followed by reruns of the 52 CBS shows.) In August 1954, filming began on "The Adventures of Kingfish," an "Amos 'n' Andy" spinoff slated to premiere January 4, 1955 on CBS. But according to an article in the January 1, 1955 issue of Billboard magazine, "Kingfish" was taken off the schedule before it could even make its debut. Later that month, the 13 "Kingfish" episodes premiered in first-run syndication as part of the "Amos 'n' Andy" series. With these final 13, there were now a total of 78 "Amos 'n' Andy" episodes.moreless
Spencer Williams Jr.

Spencer Williams Jr.

Andy Brown

Alvin Childress

Alvin Childress

Amos Jones

Amanda Randolph

Amanda Randolph

Sapphire's Mama

Ernestine Wade

Ernestine Wade

Sapphire Stevens

Horace Stewart

Horace Stewart

Lightin’ (aka Nick O’Demus)

Johnny Lee

Johnny Lee

Algonquin J Calhoun

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  • Mixed feelings about the show from an African- American male

    I am an African- American male who Is 68 years old, and has mixed memories about the Amos &; Andy Show. Over the years as I became older and wiser through personal research, I found out a lot more about the characters, their personal accomplishments(which were substantial) and the racism of the times. From some of the responses I have read here, there is this feeling(from whites) that life was the same for all of us . And there seems to be confusion as to why any "colored person"(as we were called in the 1950's) would question any aspect of the show. Why, in some of these emails, is there a need to remind the rest of us that the show portrayed solid middle class conservative values?. I know and understand this because I lived with the heritage these people left me. But there is an another side to this too, There are people who acknowledge the so called'' goofball antics''. The only problem was, as great as their comedic genius and their ability to entertain us was. The earning power(of some black professionals) and the image of a whole race of people was affected by this show. Black lawyers(not lawyers in general) were affected by the images of Johnny Lee as Calhoun. Why, because whites believed that whatever they saw on television was the way we really were. Sure there were whites who played what you might call" Caucasian buffoonish" roles on television. But a whole race wasn't branded like we were. Thurgood Marshall and other esteemed black lawyers of the time often complained about how some whites didn't take them seriously because they saw them through the lens of Calhoun(Johnny Lee). Some of you are probably asking yourselves, How and why do some of those negroes(another endearing term for us) express the feelings and attitudes that they do about this show? we just loved those" coloreds", they were like members of our family , so lovable and different. Let's get out of the professional arena and talk about how it affected everyday working class blacks. I used to hear my uncles and friends of my father, say things like," if another one of those white guys gets in my face and keeps calling me lightnin or kingfish, I am going to kick his ass". Most of the time they didn't because whites controlled your destiny and your job. These men had families to feed. You notice that I said men. Because at the time, our families weren't dominated by females. Look at the negative and far reaching results it is having on us today.. We were called colored but we had solid family values and structure. Things began to fall apart with President Johnson's" Great Society", when they literally told Black Women that you don't need a man(husband or otherwise) in the home and we will support you financially and legally. Children became an economic commodity and meant more money. White feminist have also encouraged white women to become pit bulls in skirts and adopt these negative behaviors . Because of all this promiscuity, the landscape is littered with so called families of children(white and black) with different fathers. Before any one blames men, there are two words of empowerment in English or any other language, that is yes or no. Male or female, when it comes to your person, you have the power As I stated in the beginning, I loved the show, the actors and their family values. But if you think , that this show didn't have any residual racial effects, you are fooling your selfmoreless
  • Amos & Andy was OK!

    This TV series was the only show of its time to portray blacks as successful, well dressed everyday folks. The show would have been offensive only to hyper sensitive, dyed in the wool, black deadbeats. The characters were mostly honest working class people with good moral character. George Stevens was a schemer, but seldom succeeded with his schemes! Amos was depicted as the most hard working person in the cast and Sapphire was the conscience for George. The only "stereotype" in the show was the messenger boy, "Lightning"! These shows were straight forward and generally portrayed good values. Today's phony, "politically correct" depictions are mostly a lie to assuage opportunists like Jesse Jackson who makes his living by fomenting racial strife.moreless
  • Tragically condemned greatness!

    The first tv show with an all black cast was also one of the funniest shows of televisions first decade. It is truly a shame that political correctness has taken it away from so many generations.

    There were many "intelligent/normal" characters on this show, Alvin Childress as Amos Jones being chief among them.

    Tim Moore's Kingfish Stevens, Spencer Williams Jr.'s Andy Brown & Johnny Lee's Algonquin J. Calhoun were broad comic characters and not meant as racial stereotypes. At least that isn't what the actors intended. They just wanted to make people laugh.

    Yes the characters were "goofballs" in the same sense that Fred Sanford, Cramer, Gilligan and even the Three Stooges were, the fact remains that they were talented and they were funny.

    One of my favorite episodes is "Rare Coin". There has rarely been anything funnier than Andy using a nickel worth $250 in a pay phone, then he and Kingfish spend the rest of the episode trying to retrieve it.

    It is such a shame that a segment of the population can't accept this show for what it is, a tremendously funny situation comedy with broad comic performances. They would rather desecrate the brilliant performances of truly gifted actors.

    All those who condemned this show, its cast & their performances to the point of banishment accomplished, was to stifle the progress these great performers made in the industry.

    The cast of "Amos 'N Andy" were decades ahead of their time, and made great strides and advances for black performers in show business at the dawn of television history.moreless
  • Amos and Andy

    Why aren't these shows being shown anymore? I'm a new member and one of the specific reasons I joined was to be able to enjoy watching these great old sitcoms. Amos and Andy was one of my all time favorites and I hope this site will be bringing them back for all to enjoy and soon. As an old time radio fan I learned to enjoy the talents of both Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll. Two innovators in radio pioneering who brought forth Minstrel to the radio stage. I never looked upon this show as being racist but merely as entertainment. Don't believe it was ever meant to demean the Blacks but simply entertain. It was no more racist than the Beverly Hillbillies.moreless
  • A Victim of the Times!! Racism? I say NO!

    This show fell victim to the historical times when the struggle for true civil rights for people of all colors in the US made networks and poltical groups ultra-sensitive to anything that even seemed racist...Advertisers hate controversy.

    Black stage shows, movie stars and TV shows once deemed OK were now denounced as 'racist' and as promoting racial stereotypes. Some did but I believe that Amos n Andy did not (although the original radio program/movie with 'black-face' white actors playing the leads was another matter). If you pay attention to the overall layout of this program it portrays something unheard of on american TV. A world populated by mostly well educated, well spoken, black professionals. We are shown doctors, lawyers, bankers, businessmen and just plain everyday people whose race was just a sidenote as they were portrayed as normal intelligent people who found Andy & the Kingfish just as odd/buffoonish as white america did.. Even Amos, the cab driver, always came across as intelligent and above the antics of his friends. The most stereotypical character was 'Lightnin', the "Stephen Fetchit" clone who was slow talking, slow moving, slow thinking. Algonquin J. Calhoun was more insulting to lawyers than blacks. This show in different times would have been seen for the farce it was. It should have been seen as no more offensive to the black community than Gomer Pyle was to the white community BUT even the slightest resemblance to racism was enough. I do not agree but I do understand. What I do NOT understand is why this show does not join the scores of other 'classic' old TV shows we now see in constant reruns. It is STILL very funny. Many modern shows and movies portray african-americans far worse than this show ever did (and are not half as good)...

    Here is the Original NAACP note:

    NAACP Bulletin

    August 15, 1951 1. "It tends to strengthen the conclusion among uninformed and prejudiced people that Negroes are inferior, lazy, dumb and dishonest.

    2. Every character in this one and only TV show with an all Negro cast is either a clown or a crook.

    3. Negro doctors are shown as quacks and thieves.

    4. Negro lawyers are shown as slippery cowards, ignorant of their profession and without ethics.

    5. Negro Women are shown as cackling, screaming shrews, in big mouthed close-ups, using street slang, just short of vulgarity

    6. All Negroes are shown as dodging work of any kind.

    7. Millions of white Americans see this Amos 'n' Andy picture of Negroes and think the entire race is the same."moreless