Introducing Bert Williams: Burnt Cork, Broadway, and the Story of America's First Black Star

Introducing Bert Williams: Burnt Cork, Broadway, and the Story of America's First Black Star

by Camille F. Forbes
     
 

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According to critics of his time, Bert Williams was “the Greatest Comedian on the American Stage.” A black Bahamian immigrant, Williams made his start as a barker advertising the rough-and-tumble “medicine shows” that dotted the Wild West at the end of the nineteenth century. Not long after joining a minstrel troupe and donning the burnt- cork… See more details below

Overview

According to critics of his time, Bert Williams was “the Greatest Comedian on the American Stage.” A black Bahamian immigrant, Williams made his start as a barker advertising the rough-and-tumble “medicine shows” that dotted the Wild West at the end of the nineteenth century. Not long after joining a minstrel troupe and donning the burnt- cork makeup of blackface, he teamed up with African American George Walker in a sixteen-year partnership that would take them from rural western mining towns to the bright lights of Broadway.

In Introducing Bert Williams, historian Camille Forbes reveals a fascinating figure, initiating the reader into the vivid world of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century popular entertainment. Williams’s long and varied career is a whirlwind of drama, glamour, and ambition—nothing less than the birth of American show business.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Henry Louis Gates Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor, Harvard University
"Camille F. Forbes has produced a history not only of a life and an industry, but also of our ideas about the performance and theatricality of race itself. This is a significant contribution to the field of African-American Studies as well as a model of how to pull a story out of archives and historical records that do not always cooperate."

David Jasen, author of The American Rag: The Story of Ragtime from Coast to Coast and Rags and Ragtime: A Musical History
"This book combines the fascinating biography of Bert Williams with the enriched history of blacks in American show business. Camille Forbes does a wonderful job of displaying her research on his life as she recreates the atmosphere of the years during which Williams flourished. It is a welcome addition to my personal library."

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780786722358
Publisher:
Basic Books
Publication date:
08/01/2008
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
416
Sales rank:
984,906
File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
18 Years

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