Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll were a pair of comedians and actors who, in 1926, created one of the earliest serialised radio shows, a comedy (with occasional dramatic elements) entitled “Sam ‘n’ Henry”. Which is fine and dandy, although presenting one major problem to us today: Correll and Gosden were white men who parlayed an ability to impersonate black men into a highly successful career.
Their true success began with their subsequent creation, the radio serial “Amos ‘n’ Andy”. This series would run for over thirty years, spawning a film and a television series as spin offs, and become an unforgettable part of mid-twentieth century American culture. It would also, in its later years, become quite controversial for its portrayal of black characters by white actors and its use of negative stereotypes in its characters. Although some have argued that some of its “racist” stereotypes were more accurately seen as comedic stereotypes who happened to be black, but given that these were among the very few black characters on television at all, the overall effect was a negative one on black and white listeners (and later viewers) alike.
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