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Michigan State University

African American Studies Research Guide: Radio & TV Shows

American Black Journal

American Black Journal : Documenting Detroit and American History from African-American Perspectives.  American Black Journal, originally titled Colored People's Time, went on the air in 1968 as a televised public forum for black Americans during a historic moment of racial turmoil across the nation. During its thirty-six-year run, the show (under different titles and formats) has documented Detroit and American history from African-American perspectives. The show represents a unique national treasury, possessing one of the most extensive audio-visual records of local African-American history and culture in existence, recorded in the city with the third largest black population in the United States. While many extant collections are limited to the contributions of African-Americans in specific areas such as civil rights or music, ABJ explores the entire spectrum. The collection includes interviews, round table discussions, field-produced features, and artistic performances by African-Americans, many from among the nation's most-recognized African-American experiences. The collection also contains in-studio interviews and on-location footage that examine such issues and events as work in the automobile industry, nationwide urban civil disturbances in 1967 (including those in Detroit), the development of strong African-American political leaders, the explosion of Motown music and the emergence of rap, the rise of mainstream business leaders, and the enduring importance of religion within African-American culture. In its thirty-six years of programming, the ABJ has highlighted leading figures in the worlds of sports, economics, academics, international relations, the law, and religion. The show's first-person approach is particularly valuable for public presentations of history, while the ABJ materials provide faces and voices to the key aspects of African-American culture and history over the last third of the century.  A treasure trove of primary source material on film. 

History Detectives

Many episodes of History Detectives relate to events in the history of African Americans.   Here are a few:

History Detectives : Episode: Civil War Letters, Aviation Fabric & Negro Romance Comic.  This episode fills in the moving story behind letters from a Civil War soldier to his brother and his desire to lead an African American unit. Then, Tukufu Zuberi sets out to identify the source of a piece of fabric with signatures of Charles Lindbergh and helicopter inventor Igor Sikorsky. Finally, did black artists create the 1950's comic book, Negro Romance?   Includes information about African Americans fighting in Arkansas during the Civil War, an update about an African American face pot discovered in Philadelphia, and the Negro Romance comic book series.

History Detectives : John Brown Spear, US Bullet in Siberia & Ronald McDonald Suit.  In this episode, Wes Cowan looks into whether this weapon was part of abolitionist John Brown's notorious Harpers Ferry raid. Then, words etched into a bullet lead Eduardo Pagan to ask why US troops spent time in Siberia during World War I. Finally, Elyse Luray falls in love with a Ronald McDonald costume, complete with clown shoes. Was it the first costume of the Ronald McDonald campaign?

History Detectives  : Season 8, Episode 9.  Jackie Robinson All-Stars: Does a Jackie Robinson All-Stars scorecard signal early steps toward integration of MLB? Modoc Basket: How does a basket connect us to a woman congress honored as a heroine of the Indian Wars of the West? Special Agent Five: Why did J. Edgar Hoover endorse a radio script based on an FBI case?

History Detectives  : Season 8, Episode 10.  The second vignette explores the history behind a slave manumission document dating from the time that colonial Spanish New Orleans assisted in aiding the American Revolution by attacking British forces (1779).  In return for his services in the Spanish artillery that helped force the British surrender of Baton Rouge, Natchez, Mobile, and Pensacola, the Spanish Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Spanish New Orleans (whose name was given to Galveston, Texas), helps the soldier buy the freedom of an African slave, who becomes his common-law-life and mother of the his family.

PBS Black Culture Connection

PBS Black Culture Connection is your resource and guide to films, stories and voices across public television centered around Black history & culture. Explore. Watch. Connect!  Explore the Shows and Films tab to identify what is available.   Many of the listings indicate that streaming video is a a click away.

Featured Selections, A-D

Amos 'n' Andy : Anatomy of a Controversy  / 48 minutes.  Available on the Internet via YouTube  / Looks at the history of the Amos and Andy characters from their inception on radio to the first all black cast show on American TV in 1951. After the NAACP exerted pressure on CBS for what they perceived as a program that shed a negative light on African Americans and reinforced stereotypes, the network canceled the series after a few years. The show was also pulled from reruns in the mid 60's for the same reasons. Hosted by comedian George Kirby, this documentary features rare archival clips and interviews with former TV cast members, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Redd Foxx, Marla Gibbs and former NAACP leaders of that era. A shortened episode from the 1951-1953 CBS series is also featured. Amos 'n Andy: Anatomy of a Controversy aptly tells its story, but, even now, the show remains an infamous, largely unseen chapter in TV history.

Amos 'n' Andy / starring Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll.  Cedar Knolls, NJ : Radio Spirits, [2002].  3 audio discs (3 hr.) : digital ; 4 3/4 in.  Part of the ROVI Music Collection.  Six classic episodes from the final season.  Disc 1. Cloakroom concession -- mink coat (10-4-53) ; Bedelia Adams adopts Andy (11-14-54) -- Disc 2. Aptitude tests (11-21-54) ; Andy's romance with Hyacinth Jackson (11-28-54) -- Disc 3. Sapphire wants Kingfish to fire his new secretary (12-12-54) ; Depeister's New Year's Eve ball (12-26-54).

Amos and Andy Radio Show.  The Internet Archive provides access to a number of the Amos and Andy Radio Show broadcasts.   Also check out the Amos 'N Andy web site by TV Party. 

Amos & Andy Television Show (1950-53) / directed by Charles Barton.   Fort Lauderdale, FL : Education 2000, ind., [2005?]  9 videodiscs (1320 minutes) : sd., b&w ; 4 3/4 in.  PN1992.77.A667 A667 2005 VideoDVD  1-9 : Starring: Alvin Childress, Spencer Williams Jr., Tim Moore, Ernestine Wode, Amando Randolph, Johnny Lee and. Horace Stewar, and much more. In the early days of television, the Amos 'N Andy Show featured the timeless antics of the Kingfish. Andy, Sapphire, Momma, Amos, Algonquin J Calhoun, and Lightning. However, many objected to its stereotyping, and so it was pulled at the end of 1953, although it was shown through sydication into the 1960s.

The Beulah Show (1950-1953) / a Roland Reed Production, Hollywood, Calif.  Narberth, PA : Alpha Home Entertainment, c2007   1 DVD videodisc (100 min.) : sd., b&w ; 4 3/4 in.  PN1992.77.B468 B48 2007 VideoDVD (Also available as part of the ROVI Movie Collection) : Four lost episodes of this early TV sitcom featuring Beaulah, a black domestic, who finds common sense answers to family problems.  The Beulah Show (also known simply as Beulah) is a light sitcom from television's first years best known for being the first program to star an African American actress. The Beulah Show is a trailblazer in that it's black and white supporting performers are on an equal status and share approximately the same amount of screen time. And it's wonderful to see both Hattie McDaniel and Louise Beavers front and center in a program given the starring billing they richly deserved.

Beulah Show : The New Arrival (1952) / 25 minutes.  The Beulah Show (according to Wikipedia) is an American situation-comedy series that ran in radio on CBS from 1945 to 1954, and in television on ABC from 1950 to 1953. It is notable for being the first sitcom to star an African American.  In 1950 Roland Reed Productions adapted the property into a TV situation comedy for ABC, and the Beulah TV show ran for three seasons, Tuesday nights at 7:30 ET from October 3, 1950 to September 22, 1953.Most of the comedy in the series derived from the fact that Beulah, referred to as "the queen of the kitchen," has the ability to solve the problems that her employers cannot figure out. Other characters included Beulah's boyfriend Bill Jackson, a handyman who is constantly proposing marriage, and Oriole, a befuddled maid for the family next door.  After Beulah was cancelled at the end of the 1952-53 television season, black characters virtually disappeared from television, with only small and infrequent roles surfacing. The next television program to star a black woman in the title role was Julia in 1968, starring Diahann Carroll.  Source : Internet Archive, Classics TV.

Beulah Show : The Waltz (1950s television show).  'The Beulah Show' was the first TV series to feature an African American woman in the lead role. Source : Internet Archive, Classics TV.

[The Beulah show. Season 3, episode 4, Beulah goes gardening].  Vincent Voice Library Voice 16053  : Black actress Hattie McDaniel portrays the housekeeper Beulah in this episode from the ABC TV sit-com The Beulah Show. This program is notable for being the first sit-com to star an African American actress. McDaniel first portrayed Beulah on CBS radio starting in 1947 where she was also the first black woman to star in a network radio show.

Benson : The Complete First Season (1979) / Sony Pictures Television ; Witt/Thomas/Harris Productions.  3 DVD videodiscs (ca. 597 min.) : sd., col. ; 4 3/4 in.  PN1992.8.C66 B467 2007 VideoDVD  1-3 : A popular television show featuring Robert Guillaume.  Reprising his role on Soap, butler Benson DuBois is sent by his employer, Jessica, to help run the disorganized household of her widowed cousin, Governor Eugene Gatling. Once there, the fast-thinking, quick-witted servant soon finds himself not only managing the Governor's mansion staff, headed by housekeeper Gretchen Kraus and helping to raise the Governor's daughter, Katie, but even advising the Governor himself.

The Bill Cosby Show. Season 1 (1969) / Starring Bill Cosby, produced by Marvin Miller, created by Ed. Weinberger, Michael Zagor, William H. Cosby, Jr.  Los Angeles, CA : marketed by Shout! Factory ; New York, NY distributed by SONY BMG Music Entertainment [2006], c1969-1970.  4 videodiscs (ca. 11 hr.) : sd., col. ; 4 3/4 in.  PN1992.77 .C67 2006 VideoDVD Season 1 (Also available as part of the ROVI Movie Collection) : Fresh off a successful three-season run on I Spy, in which he was the first black performer to land a leading role in a TV drama, actor-comedian Bill Cosby had the clout and popularity to do pretty much whatever he wanted for his next project. He made a wise choice with The Bill Cosby Show, released here with the first season's 26 episodes contained on four discs. Not to be confused with The Cosby Show, the immensely popular '80s series that focused on the home life of a middle-class New York family and earned Cosby the top spot on TV Guide's list of the "50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time," The Bill Cosby Show, which aired from 1969-71, features Cosby as Chet Kincaid, a high school basketball coach and teacher. Kincaid is single, which provides fodder for several storylines. He's also considerably hipper than Dr. Cliff Huxtable, and the show has an overall tone that's, well, funkier than its juggernaut of a successor. Still, Cosby is Cosby, and the same values he espouses in life (fairness, the importance of education) and the techniques he brings to his standup comedy routines (especially an emphasis on storytelling over one-liners) are apparent here as well. Indeed, his imprimatur is all over the series, which is entirely a good thing. Although the show is often very funny (he's at his best in "Let X Equal a Lousy Weekend," which finds him completely out of his depth when substituting for the algebra teacher), Cosby was adamant that it not include a canned laugh track; in an interview conducted for the DVD release (it's the only bonus feature), he recalls his battles with NBC over the issue, and suggests it contributed to the network's decision not to renew the show despite high ratings. Even more striking is its refusal to play the race card, even for laughs. Although Kincaid's high school is thoroughly multi-culti, racism is a non-factor; an episode that deals with prejudice involves Kincaid's reluctance to give a proper tryout to an African-American basketball player simply because the boy is too short. And while the show is kid-friendly, addressing issues like shoplifting, learning to drive, and profanity, the focus is primarily on the proud, principled Chet and his dealings with family, friends, students, prospective dates, and such. What emerges is a portrait of a gentle, decent, funny guy, and a program that deserved more than two seasons on the air.

Color Adjustment / Signifyin' Works ; producers, Marlon Riggs and Vivian Kleiman ; director Marlon Riggs. San Francisco, CA : California Newsreel, [1991]  1 DVD videodisc (87 min.) : sound, black and white ; 4 3/4 in.  E185.615 .C64 1991 VideoDVD  (Also available as streaming video via Black Studies in Video and Films on Demand)    : A landmark study of prejudice and perception. This documentary revisits popular prime time television shows such as Beulah, The Nat King Cole Show, Julia, I Spy, Good Times, and Roots. Actors Esther Rolle, Diahann Carroll and Tim Reid along with Hollywood producers Norman Lear, Steven Bochco and David Wolper reveal how bitter racial conflict was absorbed by the non-controversial format of the prime time series.

The Cosby Show : The Cosby Show appeared on NBC from 1984 to 1992, becoming one of the most popular programs in the history of television. The series depicted a close-knit and prosperous African-American family (The Huxtables) that dwelled in New York City. Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable, OB-GYN (Bill Cosby), and his attorney wife Claire (Phylicia Rashad), a happily married, dual-profession couple, had aspirations of raising their five children in a positive, uplifting environment. The Huxtables were truly a groundbreaking family for television. The Cosby Show was an instant smash hit, holding TV's #1 spot for a record five consecutive years (1985-1990), and it remained in the Top 20 shows for all eight seasons it was on NBC. The Cosby Show's popularity was so intense that it has carried over into the 21st Century, and now the Cosby Show is as relevant as it has ever been. The Huxtables are adored around the world.

The Cosby Show. Season 1 (1984-1985) / Carsey Werner.  Thousand Oaks, CA : Urbanworks Entertainment, 2005.  4 DVD videodiscs (ca. 575 min.) : sd., col. ; 4 3/4 in. + 1 program guide. PN1992.77 .C67 2005 VideoDVD Season 1  discs 1-4  : Heathcliff Huxtable, a doctor, and his wife Claire, an attorney, struggle to balance the challenges of their successful careers and the demands of their five children, who vary in age and each have their own problems.  Cast : Bill Cosby, Phylicia Rashad, Lisa Bonet, Malcolm Jamal-Warner, Sabrina Le Beauf, Tempestt Bledsoe, Keshia Knight Pulliam.

The Cosby Show. Season 2 (1985-1986) / Carsey/Werner ; directed by Jay Sandrich.  Thousand Oaks, CA : UrbanWorks Entertainment, 2006.  4 DVD videodiscs (ca. 600 min.) : sd., col. ; 4 3/4 in.  PN1992.77 .C67 2006 VideoDVD Season 2  discs 1-4 (Also available as part of the ROVI Movie Collection)

The Cosby Show. Season 3 (1986-1987) / the Carsey-Werner Company, LLC ; Carsey-Werner Distribution.  [Los Angeles, Calif.] : First Look Home Entertainment, [2007]  3 videodiscs (ca. 550 min.) : sd., col. ; 4 3/4 in.  PN1992.77 .C67 2007 VideoDVD Season 3  discs 1-3 (Also available as part of the ROVI Movie Collection) : Television series depicting a close-knit and prosperous African American family dwelling in New York City. Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable and his wife Clair, an attorney, are a happily married, dual-profession couple with aspirations of raising their 5 children in an uplifting, positive environment.

The Cosby Show. Season 4 (1988-1989) / First Look Home Entertainment.  [Los Angeles, Calif.] : First Look Home Entertainment, [2007]  3 videodiscs (ca. 528 min.) : sd., col.; 4 3/4in.  PN1992.77 .C67 2007 VideoDVD Season 4  discs 1-3 (Also available as part of the ROVI Movie Collection)

The Cosby Show. Season 5  / the Carsey-Werner Company, LLC ; Carsey-Werner Distribution.  Century City, CA : First Look Studios, c2007.  3 DVD videodiscs (9 hrs., 10 min.) : sd., col. ; 4 3/4 in.   PN1992.77 .C67 2007 VideoDVD Season 5  discs 1-3  (Also available as part of the ROVI Movie Collection)

The Cosby Show. Season 6  / The Carsey Werner Company, LLC ; Carsey-Werner Distribution.  [Century City, Calif.] : First Look Studios, [2007]  3 DVD videodiscs (ca. 550 min.) : sd., col. ; 4 3/4 in. PN1992.77 .C67 2007 VideoDVD Season 6  discs 1-3 (Also available as part of the ROVI Movie Collection)

Different Strokes The Complete First Season (1978-1979) / a Tandem production ; Sony Pictures Television ; produced by Howard Leeds and Herbert Kenwith ; writers, Ben Starr ... [et al.] ; directed by Herbert Kenwith.  [3] DVD videodiscs (ca. 588 min.) : sd., col. ; 4 3/4 in.  PN1992.77.D544 D544 2004 VideoDVD  no.1-3  (Also available as part of the ROVI Movie Collection)   : More than just a ratings hit for NBC, the Norman Lear/Bud Yorkin-produced Diff'rent Strokes was a pop-culture phenomenon, thanks largely to the wise-beyond-his-years performance of star Gary Coleman. And while the show has languished of late in syndication in a heavily edited form, Columbia's first-season set amends that situation by packaging all 24 uncut episodes on a three-disc set with some interesting extras. Launched in November 1978 as a mid-season replacement for the failed Joe Namath series The Waverly Wonders, Diff'rent Strokes vaulted to no. 27 in the Nielsen ratings; audiences responded to the warmth and humorous culture clash between wealthy Philip Drummond (Lear vet Conrad Bain) and Arnold and Willis (Coleman and Todd Bridges), the sons of his late housekeeper whom he adopted. Though Bain, Bridges, Dana Plato (as Bain's daughter), and Charlotte Rae (as housekeeper Mrs. Garrett) all delivered solid performances, it was Coleman's charm, his timing, and most of all, his catch phrase "Whatchoo talkin' bout?" that drew in viewers.

Featured Selections, E-Z

The Flip Wilson Show (1970) / Clerow Productions, Inc., and Bob Henry Productions.  Los Angeles, CA : Rhino Home Video, c2000.  1 DVD videodisc (115 min.) : sd., col. ; 4 3/4 in. PN1992.77.F55 F55 2000 VideoDVD (Also available as part of the ROVI Movie Collection)   : More than just a ratings hit for NBC, the Norman Lear/Bud Yorkin-produced    : For four years in the early 1970s, comedian Flip Wilson presided over one of the most popular variety shows on television. The show featured weekly guest stars as well as Wilson's own characters, the most noteworthy of whom were "Reverend Leroy," the genially bombastic pastor of the "Church of What's Happening Now," and "Geraldine Jones," a thoroughly sassy and proud African American woman played by Wilson in a miniskirt. Featuring highlights from five episodes of the program, this collection includes the show's very first appearance on September 17, 1970. Wilson cavorts shamelessly and hysterically as Geraldine during an interview with David Frost and in a skit that features TV legend Ed Sullivan, acting (well, sort of) as a lounge lizard in garish '70s garb (including purple pants and a leather vest). Bill Cosby appears in several skits, and other guest stars include Lucille Ball, Don Rickles, Bobby Darin, Tim Conway, Red Foxx, Ray Charles, the Osmonds (singing and dancing in signature rhinestone jumpsuits), and Big Bird of Sesame Street. Wilson's career never again reached the peak he attained in the early 1970s, but these programs show how truly hilarious he was at the time his character Geraldine Jones had the whole country saying, "The devil made me do it!"  Episodes originally broadcast Sept. 17, 1970-Jan. 13, 1972.

Gimme a Break Season One (1981) / Universal City, CA : Universal Pictures, [2006]  3 DVD videodiscs (ca. 7 hrs., 47 min.) : sd., col. ; 4 3/4 in.  PN1992.77.G566 G566 2006 VideoDVD  1-3 (Also available as part of the ROVI Movie Collection)   : More than just a ratings hit for NBC, the Norman Lear/Bud Yorkin-produced   : Actress-singer Nell Carter provided the heart and soul for this much-loved NBC family series (1981-1987) about a black woman who cares for a white police chief's daughters after the death of their mother. Though some of the show's humor was derived from jibes about Ms. Carter's size and the clash of parenting styles between the no-nonsense Chief (stage veteran Dolph Sweet) and Carter's warm, sassy Nell Harper, Gimme a Break also addressed more serious and emotional subjects with surprising warmth and drama. The debut episode, "Katie the Crook" (which is featured on this three-disc set, along with the other 18 episodes from the 1981-82 season), does a fine job of touching on the tougher issues, as the Chief's three daughters (Kari Michaelson, Lauri Hendler, and Lara Jill Miller) each react to the mother's untimely passing in realistic manners. Other episodes in the first season offer a good blend of humor and pathos, including "Mom's Birthday" (in which Nell allows the family to celebrate their mother through home movies), "The Emergency" (a rare TV storyline about teen birth control), "Your Prisoner Is Dead" (the Chief is traumatized after killing a drugstore burglar, and considers retirement), and "Nell Goes Home" (Nell is rejected by her ailing father during a trip to Alabama). Much of the credit for the show should go to the cast, especially Ms. Carter and Sweet (both who have since passed away), though veteran character actor John Hoyt deserves mention as the family's grandfather; their enthusiasm for and skill behind the roles is undoubtedly a large reason why Gimme a Break still enjoys a following. The first-season set includes a preview of the show's second season (the episode "Nell Goes to Jail"), as well as a 30-minute featurette on '80s TV rounds out this fan-pleasing set.

Good Times. The complete series, seasons 1-6   / producers, Norman Lear ... [et al.]. (1974) Culver City, Calif. : Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, 2008, c1974.  17 DVD videodiscs (ca. 55 hr., 27 min.) : sd., col. ; 4 3/4 in.  PN1992.77.G663 G663 2008 VideoDVD  1-17 : The Good Times are back! Relive the Golden Globe-nominated '70s sitcom smash from producers Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin. A spin-off of Maude, which was itself a spin-off of All In The Family, Good Times first aired in February 1974 and viewers of all races and ages instantly connected with the Evans' family. Money was scarce, but laughs and love were abundant for Florida (Ester Rolle), her hard-working husband James (John Amos), and their three kids living in the projects of South Side Chicago. From the outrageous antics of budding artist J.J., to the romantic dramas of sister Thelma and pint-sized Michael's activist causes, these parents had their hands full. Adding to the fun was next-door neighbor, sassy divorcee Willona, who would later in the series adopt a young daughter, Penny, played by superstar Janet Jackson! Tackling topical, sometimes even controversial subject matter with wit and sensitivity, Good Times was a breakthrough series in many ways.

The Jeffersons : The Complete First Season (1975)  / T.A.T Communications Company ; CBS.   Culver City, Calif. : Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment, c2002.  2 DVD videodiscs (338 min.) : sd., col. ; 4 3/4 in.  PN1992.77.J444 J444 2002 VideoDVD  1-2 & Guide  (Also available as part of the ROVI Movie Collection)   : More than just a ratings hit for NBC, the Norman Lear/Bud Yorkin-produced      : Long before Bill Cosby started wearing his friendly sweaters, urban middle-class African Americans burst onto television in the form of Louise (better known as "Weezy") and George Jefferson, portrayed by Isabel Sanford and Sherman Hemsley. Spun off from All in the Family, The Jeffersons ran from 1975 to 1985, and it's easy to see what made the show so popular--Sanford and Hemsley were a knockout comic duo, surrounded by a skilled supporting cast that included the interracial couple Helen and Tom Willis (Roxie Roker and Franklin Cover), British expatriate Harry Bentley (Paul Benedict), as well as George's cantankerous mother Olivia (Zara Cully) and their snappy, cynical maid Florence (Marla Gibbs). Set in a high-rise apartment building in the heart of New York City, the show spun around George, a classic character portrait of vanity, arrogance, and petty prejudice. Balanced by the more level-headed but just as strong-willed Weezy, George's self-serving abrasiveness struck comic gold, particularly in the second season, when the show's style had been set but was still fresh. Episodes tackled subjects trivial (George and Tom wear the same tacky dinner jacket to a party) and trenchant (a country club invites George to join, but only so that a newspaper reporter will think the club is open to minorities). The black and white mix of the cast allowed for a sharply satirical take on race relations, which managed to have a genuine sense of hope while never glossing over the complexity of racial tension--and was consistently funny. In fact, it's striking how well the show's humor holds up; The Jeffersons turned a series of half-hour farces into a sly examination of marriage, race, class, and the battle of the sexes; it's sad that so few contemporary sitcoms have this kind of intelligence, courage, and sheer talent.

The Jeffersons : The Complete Second Season (1975) Culver City, Calif. : Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment, c2003  3 DVD videodiscs (624 min.) : sd., col. ; 4 3/4 in  PN1992.77.J444 J4442 2003 VideoDVD  1-3  :  Cast - Isabel Sanford, Sherman Hemsley, Marla Gibbs, Roxie Roker, Franklin Cover, Zara Cully

Radio Fights Jim Crow / American RadioWorks.  February 2001 : During the World-War-II years a series of groundbreaking radio programs tried to mend the deep racial and ethnic divisions that threatened America. Courtesy of Public Radio.

The Richard Pryor Show (1977) / Burt Sugerman, Inc. production in association with Richard Pryor Enterprises ; Paul Brownstein Productions ; produced by Rocco Urbisci ; written by David Banks, Jeffrey Barron, Booker Bradshaw, Paul Mooney, Arthur Sellers, Jeremy Stevens and Tom Moore, Rocco Urbisci ; co-produced and directed by John Moffitt.   Chatsworth, CA : Image Entertainment, [2004], c1977. 3 DVD videodiscs (ca. 288 min.) : sd., col. ; 4 3/4 in.  PN1992.77.R535 R535 2004 VideoDVD 1-3 : One of the most talked-about comedy shows ever, this hilarious collection of classic laughs became a legend during its showings on NBC and now returns on DVD for a new generation! Guests include John Belushi and Maya Angelou, Cast Members include Robin Williams (Good Will Hunting, Dead Poets Society), Sandra Bernhard (Without You I'm Nothing), Shirley Hemphill (What's Happening!!), Paul Mooney (Hollywood Shuffle), LaWanda Page (Sanford and Son), Tim Reid (WKRP in Cincinnati), Edie McClurg (Ferris Bueller's Day Off) and Marsha Warfield (Night Court) and Peter Cullen (The Tigger Movie).

Sanford and Son: The Complete Series (1972- ) Culver City, CA : Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, 2008.  17 DVD videodiscs (ca. 3331 min.) : sd., col. ; 4 3/4 in.  PN1992.77.S364 S364 2008 VideoDVD  1-17 : I'm comin', Elizabeth! It's the complete series on 17 discs. Join ne'er do well Fred Sanford (Redd Foxx) as he runs his junkyard, and runs his son Lamont (Demond Wilson) ragged. Add Aunt Esther (LaWanda Page) and Grady (Whitman Mayo) into the mix, and you've got six seasons of hilarious entertainment.   South Central L.A. junk dealer Fred Sanford and his partner-in-grime, son Lamont, are constantly struggling to make ends meet, but Fred always has just one more get-rich-quick scheme up his sleeve, sometimes involving best friend Grady. When he's not haggling over his empire of junk, he's sparring with his sister-in-law, the cantankerous, Bible-thumping Aunt Esther.

Sanford and Son. The first season / a Bud Yorkin Norman Lear Tandem production.  [United States] : Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment, [2002]  2 DVD videodiscs (approximately 364 min.) : sound, color ; 4 3/4 in.  Available as part of the ROVI Movie Collection :  Based on the British television sitcom "Steptoe and son" created by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson    Originally aired in the 1972-73 television season.  A father and son run a junkyard business together.

Sanford and Son. The second season / Norbud Productions ; [created by Bud Yorkin and Norman Lear].  Culver City, CA : Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment, 2003.  3 DVD videodiscs (approximately 530 min.) : sound, color ; 4 3/4 in.  Available as part of the ROVI Movie Collection : Originally broadcast on television in 1972-1973.  Episodes 1-24 from the second season of Sanford and son, about a widowed junk dealer living with his son in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles.

Sanford and Son. The third season / a Bud Yorkin Norman Lear Tandem production.  [United States] : Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment, [2003]   3 DVD videodiscs (approximately 364 min.) : sound, color ; 4 3/4 in  Available as part of the ROVI Movie Collection

Sanford and Son. The fourth season / Tandem Productions ; produced by Saul Turteltaub and Bernie Orenstein ; directed by Peter Baldwin [and others] ; written by Ilunga Adell [and others] ; executive producer, Bud Yorkin ; creators, Ray Galton, Alan Simpson.  Culver City, CA : Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment, [2004]  3 DVD videodiscs (approximately 602 min.) : sound, color ; 4 3/4 in    Available as part of the ROVI Movie Collection : Videodisc release of the television series originally broadcast in 1974-1975.

Sanford and Son. The fifth season / a Bud Yorkin Norman Lear Tandem Production ; Sony Pictures TelevisionCulver City, Calif. : Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment, [2004]  3 DVD videodiscs (approximately 623 min.) : sound, color ; 4 3/4 in.  Available as part of the ROVI Movie Collection : Originally produced for television broadcast 1975-1976.  The comic misadventures of a cantankerous 65-year-old junk dealer and his outrageous circle of family and friends. Includes 25 episodes from the fifth season.

Sanford and Son. The sixth season / a Bud Yorkin Norman Lear Tandem Production ; Sony Pictures Television.  Culver City, CA : Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, 2005.  3 DVD videodiscs (approximately 616 min.) : sound, color ; 4 3/4 in. + 1 booklet (12 pages : color illustrations ; 19 cm) Available as part of the ROVI Movie Collection :  24 episodes from the sixth season of Sanford and son.

Say Brother is WGBH’s longest-running public affairs television program by, for and about African Americans, now known as Basic Black. In April 2000, the WGBH Media Library and Archives in Boston was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities Archives and Special Collections Preservation and Access grant to arrange, describe, and reformat master Say Brother programs dating from 1968 to 1982 to keep the collection accessible. WGBH welcomes you to explore this invaluable programming, whether performance, political commentary, or conversations with distinct voices from the African American community.  Individual episodes of Say Brother are available as streaming video via Alexander Street Press Video.   Individual episodes are cataloged in our Library Catalog.

What's Happening : The Complete First Season (1976) / a Toy Production ; Columbia Pictures Industries.  United States] : Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment, 2004.  3 DVD videodiscs (520 min.) : sd., col. ; 4 3/4 in.  PN1992.77.W4737 W4737 2004 VideoDVD {C} 1-3  (Also available as part of the ROVI Movie Collection) : Cool out and return to the days of tight pants, afro picks, and... empty wallets. What's Happening was the African American answer to Happy Days and featured a theme almost as catchy as Quincy Jones's bouncy number for Sanford and Son (this time by the great Henry Mancini). The popular L.A.-based sitcom premiered in 1976 during the height of the disco craze and the action centers around bespectacled teenager Raj (Ernest Thomas, the show's Richie Cunningham) and fun-lovin' pals Dwayne (Haywood Nelson) and Rerun ("'cause every summer he gotta go back to school to repeat what he did all winter"; played by Fred Berry). The boys are kept in check by Raj's hardworking single mother, Mrs. Thomas (Mabel King), bratty kid sister Dee (Danielle Spencer), and sassy waitress Shirley (Shirley Hemphill). (Sadly, King and Hemphill passed away in 1999; Berry in 2003.) When not in school--and the show takes place largely outside the halls of academia--the gang hangs out at the soda shop, "bumps" to the latest grooves, and trades quips with local cuties, like Debbi Morgan's Diane. That's about it. Of course, the trio does get into (minor) trouble each week and learns a valuable lesson before the end of each episode, but What's Happening mostly revolves around the fun they would conjure up out of the tiniest of budgets. Consequently, money--or the lack of it--figures prominently throughout the series. If What's Happening wasn't as groundbreaking as Good Times or as acerbic as The Jefffersons, it was directed at a slightly younger, more innocent audience. Kids throughout the nation came to rely on Raj, Dwayne, and especially the beret-and-suspender-sporting Rerun for all the latest catch phrases (like "Hey, hey, hey!") and funky moves.

What's happening! The complete second season / a Toy Production ; Columbia Pictures Industries.   [United States] : Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment, 2004  3 DVD videodiscs (548 min.) : sound, color ; 4 3/4 in. Available as part of the ROVI Movie Collection : All 22 episodes from the show's second season are here, with guest stars including Irene Cara, Tim Reid and the Doobie Brothers. Bust a gut as Rerun joins a lettuce-worshipping cult, Raj tries to impress a model, and Dee wrangles a chocolate cake and new skates from her sympathetic family, and don't miss Dwayne's hilariously bad performance of "handyman" as part of a school project.

What's happening! The complete third seasonulver City, Calif. : Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, 2005.  3 DVD videodiscs (approximately 542 min.) : sound, color ; 4 3/4 in.  Available as part of the ROVI Movie Collection : Raj and Rerun are sharing an apartment this year, with more chances for wacky situations. Don't miss Rerun dreaming he's the Fonz, Raj's attempts to play it cool and impress an older woman, Dee's cheerleading tryout, Shirley's chance at true love, and Dwayne in drag as Susanne Somers. Along for the ride are Raj's college buddy Snake, cop Big Earl and his son Little Earl. Is there money hidden in the house? Will Shirley's cookies mean big bucks? Can Rerun win the big disco contest? How hard can you laugh? Get all the answers in this collection of one of TV's greatest hits.

What's Happening!! : the complete seriesCulver City, Calif. : Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, [2008]  9 DVD videodiscs (approximately 1,612 min.) : sound, color ; 4 3/4 in. Available as part of the ROVI Movie Collection : Originally produced for television in 1976-79.  "It's What's Happening!!, the funny funky late '70s comedy classic featuring high-school pals Raj (Ernest Thomas), Dwayne (Haywood Nelson), Rerun (Fred Berry), Shirley (Shirley Hemphill), Dee (Danielle Spencer), and Mama (Mabel King)! You'll get all three hip hilarious seasons jam-packed with your favorite people and the funniest moments. They're all here from Rerun's dance moves to Raj and Dwayne's crush on the same girl from Dee running away to Shirley's chance at true love and much much more"


Celebrating African American Achievements in Film and TV

Celebrating African American Achievements in Film and TV. Beginning back as far as the early 1900s, African Americans have continuously pushed back barriers in film and television.

Subject Guide

Erik Ponder's picture
Erik Ponder
African Studies Librarian
MSU Libraries
366 W. Circle Dr. (E 224B)
East Lansing, MI 48824

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