Wednesday, January 26, 2011

KINGFISH, 2011. WHAT ABOUT A TIME CALLED NOW?


That picture is the cast of the old Amos 'n Andy television series (1951-1953). They're standing on the steps of the MYSTIC KNIGHTS of the SEA lodge.


The program originated on radio (1928-1943) over WMAQ (Chicago), where it had a loyal following. Two white men (Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll) created and performed the title characters, pretending to be black, and the series kept generations laughing with delight.
The jump to television was made when the show premiered on CBS on June 28, 1951.

Story-lines centered around the friendships between the Brothers of the Mystic Knights of the Sea Lodge Hall and the home life of George "Kingfish" Stevens and his wife Sapphire. Kingfish and Andy's antics were usually off-centered by the fairness, judgement and charm of cabdriver Amos Jones.

Well, through a chain of events, a writer from Ebony magazine, Sergio, an acquittance of mine, asked me if I was related to Tim Moore, aka, Kingfish. I posted a reply and I am sharing it with you....

Yep Sergio, uncle Tim. He’s my grandfather’s brother. I have some stories and lots of pictures. He didn’t get that part until late in his career. Some of those fat heads in the NAACP were instrumental in getting the series banned from television, and now we have Mr Brown and Medea… go figure. And who wins all the image awards? Yeah, go figure. I wonder if Tyler's money has any influence on black folk's state of affairs? Well, back then, at a time of emerging Civil Rights, the characters were seen as gullible, conniving and lazy. Looking at the show today, none of the plots were ever based on race; and in fact, Blacks were seen for the first time as doctors, lawyers and leaders in the community. The problem was in the balance. There were simply no other shows during that time period to compare against the characters on Amos ‘n Andy. Civil Rights leaders saw Amos ‘n Andy as “inappropriate”, saying that it had to be taken off the air.

On a side note, you know I am from Iowa – right. Well, some “good” white folks were pushing to have Tim selected to a sorta who’s who’s from the area. Well, the core of this selection committee are Jewish historians (You know they will document some ish). So, through their tireless journey, I found out how and when my family arrived in this area. The story goes back to 1865. My grandfather – of 6 generations past – was a released slave and came here to start a new life. I have a picture of him sitting with a group of distinguishing looking white fellows, all of them wearing hats and their Sunday best, including my grandfather. He was an integral part of their society because he was the town’s animal doctor. He didn’t have a PhD, but as a slave, that was his job. So they needed ol’Charlie. That was his name, Charlie W; a released slave from Kentucky.

Charlie had a daughter that married a porter who worked on the old Rock Island Line railroad. You know the song - “The Rock Island line is a mighty good line, come and get your tickets on the Rock Island line”. I think Johnny Cash sang that song.

Anyway, I guess she – Charlie’s daughter – must have looked so good and smelled so sweet that Mr Moore jumped off that train and we’ve been here every since.

There you have it, the short history of the evolution of Kingfish, aka, Tim Moore.
Now, if I could only reprise the role of Kingfish – something like, Kingfish 2011 – we’d really have something to talk about. Come to think of it Sergio, with your wit and sense of humor, you’d be a perfect Amos. I can see it now. Amos sold his cab and now writes for a popular magazine, based in Chicago, and Kingfish is still the head of the Brothers of the Mystic Knights of the Sea Lodge.

Yes sir, I can see it now, wonderful scripts and endearing characters portrayed by first-class black actors.
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Addendum:  The following picture was added April 6th 2011.   

Kingfish is third from the left.  He's chiilin' with his mother & father, and a few of his brother. 3 sisters are not included in the photo.

1 comment:

Big Mark 243 said...

As I said in your previous post... you let an orginization started by the other do the thinking for you...

I remeber watching a documentary about the show and I think that it was self-loathing that did not allow us to accept the characters as they were portrayed on the screen... remember, the same stuff came up about how unrealistic the Cosby Show was... and we embraced the cartoonish 'Sanfor & Son' and 'Good Times' as the real black american experience...

That is something... a brush with greatness ... that is very noteworthy and worth being proud of...