Bert Williams: A Biography of the Pioneer Black Comedian

Bert Williams: A Biography of the Pioneer Black Comedian

by Eric Ledell Smith
     
 

In the early 20th century, black musical shows, operettas, and revues were among America's most popular forms of entertainment. The foremost of the era's African-American entertainers was pantomime artist and comedian Bert Williams.

With partner George Nash Walker, Williams starred in the first black musical to open on Broadway, In Dahomey (which became the

Overview

In the early 20th century, black musical shows, operettas, and revues were among America's most popular forms of entertainment. The foremost of the era's African-American entertainers was pantomime artist and comedian Bert Williams.

With partner George Nash Walker, Williams starred in the first black musical to open on Broadway, In Dahomey (which became the first black show to give a command performance before English royalty). In 1910, he joined Florenz Ziegfeld's Follies—the only black then regularly appearing on Broadway.

Williams' career was marked by racism. "It's no disgrace to be a Negro but it's certainly an inconvenience," he said. Despite his status, Williams did not escape the burnt-cork makeup, never dropping the black caricature to move on to dramatic roles.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
a meticulous analysis
Classic Images
"a great book. Highly recommended"

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780899506951
Publisher:
McFarland & Company, Incorporated Publishers
Publication date:
02/01/1992
Pages:
316

Meet the Author

The late Eric Ledell Smith was a historian specializing in African American history with the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. He lived in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

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