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About Amos & Andy CBS sued a video company for selling apparently bootleg copies of the network licensed sitcom after overwhelming sales via mail order. While the video company offered to pay CBS royalties from past and future sales, the network's lawyers flatly refused and the sellers paid a hefty damage award mandated by a federal court, despite the show was listed as being public domain.

CBS never jumped on the bandwagon and released Amos & Andy themselves on CBS Home Video. This was as odd as the network pulling the series off the air in 1953, despite it drew ratings comparable with Gleason & Lucy.

The Amos & Andy situation comedy based on stock sketch comedy characters but set in the African-American community, and popular in the United States from the 1920s through the 1950s. The show began as one of the first radio comedy series, written and voiced by Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll and originating from station WMAQ in Chicago, Illinois. After the series was first broadcast in 1928, it grew in popularity and became a huge influence on the radio series that followed. The program ran on radio as a nightly serial from 1928 until 1943, as a weekly situation comedy from 1943 until 1955, and as a nightly disc-jockey program from 1954 until 1960. A television adaptation ran on CBS-TV from 1951 until 1953. At demand of local independent television stations needing to fill air time, Amos & Andy continued in syndicated reruns from 1954 until 1966

Gosden & Correll, were white actors familiar with minstrel traditions. They met in Durham, North Carolina, in 1920, and by the fall of 1925, they were performing nightly song-and-patter routines on the Chicago Tribune's station WGN. Since the Tribune syndicated Sidney Smith's popular comic strip The Gumps, which had successfully introduced the concept of daily continuity, WGN executive Ben McCanna thought the notion of a serialized drama could also work on radio. He suggested to Gosden and Correll that they adapt The Gumps to radio. They instead proposed a series about "a couple of colored characters" and borrowed certain elements of The Gumps. Their new series, Sam 'n' Henry, began January 12, 1926, fascinating radio listeners throughout the Midwest. That series became popular enough that in late 1927 Gosden and Correll requested that it be distributed to other stations on phonograph records in a "chainless chain" concept that would have been the first use of radio syndication as we know it today. When WGN rejected the idea, Gosden and Correll quit the show and the station that December. Contractually, their characters belonged to WGN, so when Gosden and Correll left WGN, they performed in personal appearances but could not use the character names from the radio show.[1]

When WMAQ, the Chicago Daily News station, hired the team and their WGN announcer, Bill Hay, to create a series similar to Sam 'n' Henry, they offered higher salaries than WGN and the rights to pursue the "chainless chain" syndication concept. The creators later told an anecdote that they named the new characters Amos and Andy after hearing two elderly African-Americans greet each other by those names in a Chicago elevator. Amos 'n' Andy began March 19, 1928, on WMAQ, and prior to airing each program they recorded their show on 78 rpm disks at Marsh Laboratories, operated by electrical recording pioneer Orlando R. Marsh.

For the program's entire run as a nightly serial, Gosden and Correll portrayed all the male roles, performing over 170 distinct voice characterizations in the show's first decade. With the episodic drama and suspense heightened by cliffhanger endings, Amos 'n' Andy reached an ever-expanding radio audience. It was the first radio program to be distributed by syndication in the United States, and by the end of the syndicated run in August 1929, at least 70 stations besides WMAQ carried the program by means of rec ppeared on the New York stage in 1931. He began his career with productions such as Savage Rhythm and Sweet Land,

Alvin Childress (Amos) graduated from Rust College and found work during the Depression age with the Federal Theatre Project and the American Negro Theatre, where he worked as an instructor. Making his film debut in 1939, Childress battled the controversial claims that Amos ‘n’ Andy was based on negative stereotypes of the African-American culture. The show was eventually cancelled because the NAACP protested. Childress remained with the show through its entire two-year span, shooting 78, 30-minute episodes. He then moved on to a social work position in Los Angeles with his degree.

Alvin Childress later returned to the big screen, landing feature roles in a couple of films and TV shows such as The Jeffersons and Sanford and Son. Diabetes and Parkinson’s disease laid Alvin Childress to rest in 1986 at the age of 78.

Spencer Williams Jr. (Andy) enjoyed a long stage career before entering films in the early '30s. Though he occasionally appeared in mainstream Hollywood products (The Virginia Judge and The Nitwits, both 1935), Williams' cinematic energies manifested themselves in the inexpensive all-black films designed for "colored-only" theatres of the era. Williams directed several of these specialized productions, usually reserving for himself a plum role as a villain or comedy relief. He was associated with many of the more famous black-oriented productions of the '30s and '40s, including Bronze Buckaroo, Harlem on the Prairie, Blood of Jesus, Dirty Girtie from Harlem USA (a remake of Somerset Maugham's Rain!) and Juke Joint. Popular among black film patrons, Williams was all but unknown to white audiences; thus it was that Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll were able to claim they "discovered" Williams when casting the TV version of their popular radio series Amos 'N' Andy. Williams portrayed the indigent, amorous Andrew H. Brown in 78 half-hour episodes produced between 1951 and 1953. While his interpretation of Andy was easygoing and gregarious, Williams clashed frequently with Gosden and Correll during production of Amos 'N' Andy, especially when the producers would give him a minstrel-show line reading. Nearly sixty when he took on Amos N Andy, Spencer Williams Jr. retired shortly after the series' cancellation; he died of a kidney ailment at the age of 76.

Tim Moore (Kingfish) who we lost December 13, 1958, was a celebrated African-American vaudevillian and comic actor of the 1910s-1950s period. He achieved his greatest popularity in the starring role of George "Kingfish" Stevens in the CBS television series, Amos 'n' Andy. He was born Harry Roscoe Moore in Rock Island, Illinois, one of 13 children of Harry and Cynthia Moore. The elder Moore was a night watchman at a brewery. Tim dropped out of school to work at various odd jobs in town and also danced for pennies in the streets with his friend, Romeo Washburn.

n 1951, Moore was called out of retirement by the Columbia Broadcasting System to star in a new television adaptation of Amos 'n' Andy as George "Kingfish" Stevens, a role which was voiced on radio by white actor Freeman Gosden. As the radio series had developed in prior years, the scheming but henpecked Kingfish had become the central focus of most of the plots. In the television version, Moore played the character more broadly, with louder and more forceful delivery and a distinctive Georgia drawl, exaggerated for comic effect. Moore's Kingfish dominated the calmer and soft-spoken "Amos 'n' Andy" characters. Moore was very popular in the show and for the first time in his career became a national celebrity as well as the first African American to win stardom on television. The show aired on prime-time TV from June 1951 to June 1953. Although quite popular, the series was eventually cancelled due to complaints about ethnic stereotyping. After the series was cancelled, it was shown in syndication until 1966 when increasing condemnation and pressure from the NAACP persuaded the show's owners to withdraw it from further exhibition. It was resurrected in the early days of home videotape through public domain video dealers who had acquired episodes from collectors of used 16mm TV prints.

Many of the TV shows were devoted to Tim Moore as Kingfish, supported by Ernestine Wade as his level-headed, emotionally strong wife Sapphire, and Amanda Randolph as his openly aggressive mother-in-law, without the participation of Amos or Andy. These Kingfish-only episodes were originally produced as a spinoff series, The Adventures of Kingfish, which made its debut on CBS on January 4, 1955 but lasted only a few episodes. When the Amos 'n' Andy half-hours went into syndication, the Adventures of Kingfish shows were added to the syndicated package under the Amos 'n' Andy series title. Moore married his last wife Vivian (1912-1988) after Benzonia's death, and this marriage won him considerably publicity thanks to the "Roast Beef Scandal" of January 1958. Moore fired a gunshot at his "mooching in-laws" when he found that the last of the New Year's roast beef had been eaten by them. According to newspaper accounts dated January 6, 1958, Moore was candid when the police came: "I'm the old Kingfish, boys, I'm the one you want. I fired that shot. I didn't want to hit anyone, although I could have. Anyway, you should have seen the in-laws scatter when I fired that gun." At his arraignment, bail was set at $1000. However, "the Kingfish" evidently so charmed the judge that the bail was canceled, and Moore was released. Thanks to the "Roast Beef Scandal," Moore was once more in demand and even received a testimonial tribute dinner from the Friars' Club in Beverly Hills. The publicity also won him an extended performance engagement at the prominent Mocambo nightclub.

Tim Moore died at age 71 in 1958 of pulmonary tuberculosis in Los Angeles, California, four days after his birthday. After a large funeral, (attendees included George Jessel, Frank Sinatra, Jack Benny, Bob Hope, Jerry Lewis, Ronald Reagan, George Burns, Eddie Cantor, Sammy Davis, Jr., Harry Richman et al.), he was buried at Rosedale Cemetery.


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