Monday, May 06, 2013

The Devil Made Him Do It

"Wilson came out of a difficult Jersey City, N.J., childhood, spent largely in foster homes from which he repeatedly ran away; eventually, he escaped into the Air Force where he began performing. Cook offers an intriguing glimpse into black nightlife in mid-'50s California, where Wilson got his professional start, in San Francisco and the working-class rooms of the San Joaquin Valley. He was older than both Bill Cosby, whose success preceded his (and of which, according to 'Flip,' he was jealous), and Richard Pryor, whom he hired as a writer-performer for 'The Flip Wilson Show. ' Pryor paid him back by calling him 'NBC's house Negro.'"

In the Los Angeles Times, Robert Lloyd reviews Kevin Cook's Flip: The Inside Story of TV's First Black Superstar.

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