Spencer Williams

1893 - 1969

American actor, writer, director, and producer whose early pioneering work in African-American or "race" films was eclipsed in fame by his role as one of the title characters in the equally pioneering and also controversial 1950s sitcom The Amos 'n Andy Show (1951). A native of Vidalia, Louisiana, Williams broke into the theatre as a call boy for theatrical producer Oscar Hammerstein I, and learned comedy at the feet of Bert Williams, the great black vaudevillian. He moved to California following service in World War I, and began to land bit parts in films, particularly in so-called "race films," which were designed solely for black audiences. He wrote gags and later scripts for some of these films, and in 1940 was offered the opportunity to write and direct a film, The Blood of Jesus (1941), a religious drama which proved an enormous success in its limited arena. After more than a half dozen further films, Williams left the industry and co-founded the American Business and Industrial

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