Radio Show Introduction

(1928 -1956)

Comedy milestone that grew out of a pre network series, Sam n' Henry -- heard in various formats and time slots during its 34-year run.

This show must be considered as what it was - one of the most popular shows in 20th century entertainment - on radio especially, as it even continued on TV with other actors. That white actors played black actors is reason for much of the dismissal of this show's impact on its listening audience. However, for 34 years Amos and Andy held a very singular place in the American old-time radio experience. The national audience was estimated at 40 million, and that very large audience was made up of Americans of many races and national backgrounds.

All this was the creation of two men, Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll. They were Amos and Andy from the beginnings of national network radio until that form had passed on, beaten on radio Top 40 bland and blatant Rock 'n' Roll. John Dunning, in his authoritative On the Air, The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio, gives a comprehensive overview of this singular pair who becameAmos and Andy.

For years, Gosden and Correll wrote the shows themselves, often finishing just before airtime. They did all the voices. They were in character every minute they were on the air, they never looked at each other, they did the show cold without any rehearsal, and they used different mikes to get just the sound and emotions they were looking for. From Chicago they grew to national fame, and together, they made the world of Amos and Andy live and breathe for millions of listeners.

Through ups and downs in popularity through the 1930 and 1940's, they grew their characters and that world they inhabited. The lawyer Stonewall, and the Kingfish grew to be nearly as popular as the originals. Throughout the 1940's, the show went on, although the world had changed with WWII. The 1950's began an era that was to bring Amos and Andy to a close as major American entertainment figures. Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll lived to see the comedy form they had embraced, black face, had come to mean a very different thing from what it did then.

For other similar series, see also Beulah, Black Crows, Johnson Family, and Sam n' Henry.

--Text used with permission from