Voiced By Gosden and Correll

Paths kept crossing for Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll. They met in 1919, when Correll was charged with putting on a stage show with the local Elks Club. His employer, Joe Bren Producing Company, brought in Gosden, a young choreographer, who taught Correll’s troupe a tap dance routine.

The two went on with their careers with Bren, each criss-crossing the nation supervising productions and teaching singing and dancing. They’d meet up every so often. But in 1924, they were both installed at Bren’s home office in Chicago, Gosden managing a circus Bren had added to its repertoire, and Correll managing the show division.

They became roomies and singing partners, eventually signing with WGN, where they’d bring Sam ‘n’ Henry, and then Amos ‘n’ Andy into millions of homes.

Gosden’s gift for black dialect came from his childhood, when he’d reportedly put on sketches with a Black friend named Garrett Brown. Correll had developed a Negro dialect before partnering with Gosden, with considerable minstrel experience.

As Amos and Andy, the two were virtuosos, hammering out scripts the afternoon of the performance and taking to the live air without rehearsals. They sat alone in the studio, doing, for the first several years of the show, the voice of all the characters. Some scenes would call for as many as ten voices. And if that wasn’t enough, they method acted, actually lighting cigars when the script called for it, handing each other objects their characters did, etc.

The story goes that they’d avoid eye contact at all cost, lest this cause laughter. Legend has it, further, that Gosden once stopped an incipient burst of laughter by throwing a glass of water on his face.

Gosden’s Amos (voiced from a few feet from the mic) propelled his words in a throaty stream. The jaunty rhythm dipped and weaved. Correll’s Andy, on the other hand (voiced from an inch from the mic) spoke in measured tones, rising and falling slowly, rich and deep.

On Oct. 8, 1943, the pair recording their first show in front of a studio audience. They’d continue this for the rest of the radio show’s duration.