The Christy Minstrels

RobertP

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Interesting thread !

It is amazing how long black face continued to thrive. Of course there was Amos and Andy which was very popular almost everywhere as both a radio and a TV show (and I remember the TV show from my childhood).

Many have never heard of Emmett Miller but he was a popular vaudeville singer and performer of black face and minstrel shows who actually made it to the TV era. His original shtick, aside from the black face routines, was his voice which he used to yodel songs. He's widely thought to have influenced Jimmie Rodgers to incorporate yodeling as they toured together before Jimmie was well known. Emmett also wrote Lovesick Blues which was made famous by Hank Williams (and features Miller's yodeling style). I think there's maybe some YouTubes of Emmett.

Just thought I'd throw that in.
Oh yes, Amos and Andy are outgrowths of the Minstrel genre. Prior to the Civil War all Blackface was performed by white males. Afterwards a number of African American actors and performers formed their own troupes and in Blackface did the same routines. Some film historians even relate shows like Sandford and Son and The Jeffersons to further iterations of the genre.
 

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RobertP

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Despite the statements in the Tennessee schoolbook thread a couple of weeks ago about Southerners exclusively pushing the Happy Negro Myth are really not accurate. Blackface Minstrel shows go back to the 1820s originating in the Northeast with the object to caricature Negroes as happy, lazy, shifty, promiscuous, and occasionally uppity. They certainly knew their audience because it quickly supplanted other types of performance entertainment and lasted for over 100 years.
 

Dedej

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At my HBCU we had a class on Minstrel and AA/Black portrayal in the media. It was a pretty interesting yet upsetting course.

What I found interesting was one of the most popular minstrel artist was a Black Bahamian immigrant - Bert Williams. His family immigrated to the States and really had no issue with portraying BlackFace minstrel because he wasn't from enslaved Black people in the US.


439px-BertWilliamsPhotoPortraitWithCigarette.jpg


Bert Williams (November 12, 1874 – March 4, 1922) was a Bahamian American and was one of the pre-eminent entertainers of the Vaudeville era and one of the most popular comedians for all audiences of his time.[1] He was by far the best-selling black recording artist before 1920. In 1918, the New York Dramatic Mirror called Williams "one of the great comedians of the world."[2]

Williams was a key figure in the development of African-American entertainment. In an age when racial inequality and stereotyping were commonplace, he became the first black American to take a lead role on the Broadway stage, and did much to push back racial barriers during his long career.

Williams was born in Nassau, The Bahamas, on November 12, 1874, to Frederick Williams Jr. and his wife Julia.[4][5] At the age of 11, Bert permanently emigrated with his parents, moving to Florida. The family later moved to Riverside, California, where he graduated from Riverside High School. In 1893, while still a teenager, he joined different West Coast minstrel shows, including Martin and Selig's Mastodon Minstrels, where he first met his future professional partner, George Walker.[6]


This is also a great doc on Minstrel and images from that time. The history and opinions from all communities.


You can watch the full documentary here: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x1afav8
 

RobertP

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At my HBCU we had a class on Minstrel and AA/Black portrayal in the media. It was a pretty interesting yet upsetting course.

What I found interesting was one of the most popular minstrel artist was a Black Bahamian immigrant - Bert Williams. His family immigrated to the States and really had no issue with portraying BlackFace minstrel because he wasn't from enslaved Black people in the US.


View attachment 149128

Bert Williams (November 12, 1874 – March 4, 1922) was a Bahamian American and was one of the pre-eminent entertainers of the Vaudeville era and one of the most popular comedians for all audiences of his time.[1] He was by far the best-selling black recording artist before 1920. In 1918, the New York Dramatic Mirror called Williams "one of the great comedians of the world."[2]

Williams was a key figure in the development of African-American entertainment. In an age when racial inequality and stereotyping were commonplace, he became the first black American to take a lead role on the Broadway stage, and did much to push back racial barriers during his long career.

Williams was born in Nassau, The Bahamas, on November 12, 1874, to Frederick Williams Jr. and his wife Julia.[4][5] At the age of 11, Bert permanently emigrated with his parents, moving to Florida. The family later moved to Riverside, California, where he graduated from Riverside High School. In 1893, while still a teenager, he joined different West Coast minstrel shows, including Martin and Selig's Mastodon Minstrels, where he first met his future professional partner, George Walker.[6]


This is also a great doc on Minstrel and images from that time. The history and opinions from all communities.


You can watch the full documentary here: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x1afav8
He's a very distinguished looking man.
 

RobertP

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At my HBCU we had a class on Minstrel and AA/Black portrayal in the media. It was a pretty interesting yet upsetting course.

What I found interesting was one of the most popular minstrel artist was a Black Bahamian immigrant - Bert Williams. His family immigrated to the States and really had no issue with portraying BlackFace minstrel because he wasn't from enslaved Black people in the US.


View attachment 149128

Bert Williams (November 12, 1874 – March 4, 1922) was a Bahamian American and was one of the pre-eminent entertainers of the Vaudeville era and one of the most popular comedians for all audiences of his time.[1] He was by far the best-selling black recording artist before 1920. In 1918, the New York Dramatic Mirror called Williams "one of the great comedians of the world."[2]

Williams was a key figure in the development of African-American entertainment. In an age when racial inequality and stereotyping were commonplace, he became the first black American to take a lead role on the Broadway stage, and did much to push back racial barriers during his long career.

Williams was born in Nassau, The Bahamas, on November 12, 1874, to Frederick Williams Jr. and his wife Julia.[4][5] At the age of 11, Bert permanently emigrated with his parents, moving to Florida. The family later moved to Riverside, California, where he graduated from Riverside High School. In 1893, while still a teenager, he joined different West Coast minstrel shows, including Martin and Selig's Mastodon Minstrels, where he first met his future professional partner, George Walker.[6]


This is also a great doc on Minstrel and images from that time. The history and opinions from all communities.


You can watch the full documentary here: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x1afav8
Since you've taken a course you know more about it than I do. I had believed that Minstrel shows were just a small slice of the entertainment pie and was really surprised that the genre quickly became the most popular form of stage performance for a number of decades. I understand why that was upsetting to you.
 

Dedej

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He's a very distinguished looking man.
He was. His bio is an interesting read as well. It's called "Dancing in The Dark"

An extravagantly talented Broadway singer and comedian, he yearned for recognition as a serious actor, but found it impossible to break through the ceiling of racial prejudice. Yet, paradoxically, he owed his success in part to that very prejudice, because his act was rooted in the demeaning traditions of minstrelsy, blackface and "coon songs" that delighted American audiences at the turn of the 20th century.

In Camille Forbes's richly detailed new biography, she tells one story that might stand for her subject's entire life.

Once, when Williams was performing in New York in the early 1900s, the great Maurice Barrymore, patriarch of the most celebrated acting family in America, went down to the wings to watch him in action. "Like him?" a passing stagehand asked. "Yes, he's terrific," Barrymore replied.

Then, a moment later, as Williams was coming offstage, the stagehand said: "Yes, he's a good ******, knows his place." Overhearing the remark, as he was surely meant to, Williams said under his breath: "Yes, a good ****** knows his place. Going there now. Dressing Room One!
" Source
 

RobertP

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He was. His bio is an interesting read as well. It's called "Dancing in The Dark"

An extravagantly talented Broadway singer and comedian, he yearned for recognition as a serious actor, but found it impossible to break through the ceiling of racial prejudice. Yet, paradoxically, he owed his success in part to that very prejudice, because his act was rooted in the demeaning traditions of minstrelsy, blackface and "coon songs" that delighted American audiences at the turn of the 20th century.

In Camille Forbes's richly detailed new biography, she tells one story that might stand for her subject's entire life.

Once, when Williams was performing in New York in the early 1900s, the great Maurice Barrymore, patriarch of the most celebrated acting family in America, went down to the wings to watch him in action. "Like him?" a passing stagehand asked. "Yes, he's terrific," Barrymore replied.

Then, a moment later, as Williams was coming offstage, the stagehand said: "Yes, he's a good ******, knows his place." Overhearing the remark, as he was surely meant to, Williams said under his breath: "Yes, a good ****** knows his place. Going there now. Dressing Room One!
" Source
Success is the best revenge.
 

Dedej

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Since you've taken a course you know more about it than I do. I had believed that Minstrel shows were just a small slice of the entertainment pie and was really surprised that the genre quickly became the most popular form of stage performance for a number of decades. I understand why that was upsetting to you.
Maybe.. LOL. I have found that I learn more and more on CWT than I any course on slavery, the CW and Reconstruction.

I think it was for most if not all Black Americans - and Black people all over the world with access to those images. As they are not reality or representative of real Black people. The course taught us the history/meanings of words such as "coon" and identifying Black caricatures.

But, as many sources state - those images were the only images/roles White Americans would accept in the media. They created them and the only way a Black actor would really succeed in those times was to be and portray those false and negative images.

Williams even performed in blackface, donning "the mask" every night to cater to a specifically American fantasy of blackness. The white audience felt safe, Phillips's Williams comments, "watching a supposedly powerless man playing an even more powerless thing." Hence the success of famous Williams and Walker shows like "Two Real Coons," or that of their friend Bob Cole, who billed himself as "****** Bob with chitlin'-loving eyes." Source
 


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