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Amos ‘n’ Andy

John W. Pinkerton


I first saw Amos 'n' Andy on our trusty Capehart in 1955.  By then it was in reruns.

I loved that show.  It was one of the earliest sitcoms  on television.  It was really funny with   Amos and Andy, the “Kingfish,” “Brother” Crawford, Henry Van Porter, Frederick Montgomery  Guindell, Algonquin J. Calhoun, William Lewis Tayor, and Willie “Lightning” Jefferson. Amos was a hardworking dedicated family man; Andy was a bit of a loafer; the Kingfish was something of a get-rich-quick guy; “Brother” Crawford was an industrious family man; Henry Van Porter was an insurance and real estate salesman. Frederick Gindell was a newspaper man; Algonquin J. Calhoun was a less than honest lawyer; William Lewis Taylor was the well-spoken, college-educated father of Amos's fiancée; and Willie "Lightning" Jefferson, a slow-moving  Stepin Fetchit-type character.

The truth is that I can't remember some of these characters very well, but I definitely  recall Amos and Andy and  “Kingfish” and, of course, “Lightning.”  “Lightning” might have been the main reason the show was pulled from the air in 1953 from CBS's national lineup.  In the '51-'52 season, the show was ranked number 13 and in '52-'53 it's ranking was number 25.  So it wasn't its ranking that got it cancelled.  The NAACP protested the airing of the show and targeted its advertiser, Blatz Beer.  Blatz withdrew its support, and CBS canceled the show.  The show continued in syndicated reruns through 1966 where upon CBS withdrew the show altogether.

Other than “Lightning Jefferson,” it's difficult for me to see what the problem with the characters might have been.  Of course, no one wants his race to be pictured as slow and lazy like “Lightning,” but “Lightning” was the only character which projected this image. 

Amos 'n' Andy began as a radio program.  It was a popular program from 1928 until 1960.  The creators and prinicipal performers were Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll, both white guys.  It all began on WMAQ in Chicago and was hugely popular from day one.  They were even given a recording contract by The Victor Talking Machine Company.

Prior to their success with Amos 'n' Andy, they had a similar radio program on another Chicago radio station, WGN, Sam 'n' Henry, featuring black characters, but because of contractual problems, they ended the show.  It was the first radio program syndicated across the United States.

How did this show endure for all those years?  Good writing, interesting characters, and  continuing  story lines with subplots.  It's not a mystery.


It was better than most of the TV shows which currently call themselves situation comedies.

I suppose the withdrawal of the show from broadcast was the correct decision for the time, but I still miss the show.


Amos ‘n’ Andy Sampler:

Amos ‘n’ Andy (season one, episode one)

Viva La France

Racial Stereotypying:

Racial Stereotyping (Part 1 of 2), Television:

Inside & Out