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The Inside Story of TV's First Black Superstar

Kevin Cook

This book is available for download with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device, and with iTunes on your computer. Books can be read with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


The first biography of the beloved entertainer who broke the prime-time color barrier
When The Flip Wilson Show debuted in 1970, black faces were still rare on television and black hosts nonexistent. Then came Flip—to instant acclaim. His show dueled Marcus Welby, M.D. for the top spot in the ratings. His characters and catchphrases fixed themselves in America’s consciousness, and he helped launch new talent, including Richard Pryor and George Carlin. But how did Clerow Wilson, a motherless Jersey City grade-school dropout, become the celebrity heralded on the cover of TIME as “TV’s First Black Superstar”? Drawing on interviews with family, friends, and celebrities, Kevin Cook offers an inspiring salute to a self-made star who fell from grace, but not before blazing a trail for generations of entertainers to come.

Publishers Weekly Review

Jan 21, 2013 – In the early 1970s, the phrases “The Devil made me do it!” and “What you see is what you get!” rolled easily off of people’s lips and entered our cultural vocabulary, thanks to a young black comedian named Flip Wilson. Drawing on interviews with family, friends, and Wilson’s colleagues, journalist Cook delivers a candid and entertaining look at Wilson’s meteoric rise from struggling stand-up comedian playing segregated nightclubs and bars on the Chitlin’ Circuit to his bursting onto the scene after several momentous appearances on the Johnny Carson Show, to Time magazine’s cover story on him as television’s first black superstar. Cook chronicles Wilson’s impoverished and abject childhood, when he was shuttled from foster family to foster family. Other topics include Wilson’s early memories of another comedian’s show-stopping performance, his escape from poverty into the military, and his own initial and wildly successful stand-up performances at his military base. Wilson’s ascent to the top of the television and comedy peaked in 1970 with The Flip Wilson Show, where on a given night, viewers might have found “B.B. King paired with Sid Caesar, or Andy Griffith paired with Curtis Mayfield.” Cook’s story also reveals a man vulnerable and unable to love deeply, as well as Wilson’s insecurities and his insatiable appetite for drugs. Cook’s fiercely honest biography captures the tumultuous and winning personality of the man who introduced many memorable characters to the world and who paved the way for black comedians such as Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, and Tyler Perry.
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  • $9.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Biographies & Memoirs
  • Published: Apr 18, 2013
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
  • Print Length: 256 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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