One of my favorite Christmas shows is by far the most controversial.
Amos 'n' Andy. If you say it's racist that's one of those rare statements in life that is 100% true and 100% false. You can read the entire messy history of Amos 'n' Andy and make up your own mind.
The Amos 'n' Andy television show (1951-1952) was one of only two TV series with blacks in major roles, there wouldn't be another until Bill Cosby in I-Spy in 1967. It was also genuinely funny with a superb cast.
1952 Amos 'n' Andy Christmas episode
was one of TV's first holiday themed broadcasts - based on a script that
had been performed yearly for more than a decade on network radio's most
popular program, Amos 'n' Andy.
holiday tradition began in 1940 with a 15-minute episode that centered
around Amos sitting by his daughter's bedside and explaining the Lord's
Prayer to her. It was a powerful and touching moment, perfectly capturing
that simpler, religiously inspired Christmas spirit that prevailed decades
ago. Nearly half
the nation tuned in to those annual holiday broadcasts.
This is how Amos and Andy were presented to the public, two white guys corked up... I'd say that's offensive.
the radio, caucasions Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll gave voice to
Kingfish, Amos and Andrew H. Brown. Deserved or not, Amos 'n' Andy
was roundly criticized for being racist in nature. While it can easily be argued that
the radio version was offensive - the whole idea of white guys portraying conniving and lazy black guys was highly problematic right there. But it did provide much needed work to African-Americans who appeared in the supporting roles and as guests, in the 1940s there were very few blacks employed on network radio.
Here's the second of the yearly holiday broadcasts from the radio days:
The best Amos 'n' Andy radio scripts from years past were adapted
for TV, with few significant changes, beginning in 1951; these were original
stories penned by the guys who went on to write and produce such seminal
television shows as Leave it to Beaver, The Munsters, Andy Griffith
Show and other classics.
Christmas tradition was carried over
from radio to television; the script remained virtually unchanged, right
down to Andy playing Santa. (That's right - one of the first glimpses
of Santa Claus that Americans got from their television sets and he was black.)
F. Gosden, Jr., the son of one of the creators, recalled in an interview
those long-ago Christmas radio shows."It is probably safe to conclude
that more people heard Amos' description of the Lord's Prayer than that
of anyone else in the world. There is no question that he felt this was
his proudest lifetime achievement. We would go to the studio and watch
the show from the client's booth. Then Dad would bring the recording home
and after dinner play it over and over again until midnight, with tears
in his eyes."
READ ALL ABOUT AMOS & ANDY