Spencer Williams: Best-Known for His Role as ‘Andy’ in the Controversial Show “Amos ‘n Andy


was an Africa- American actor and filmmaker. He was best-known for playing “Andy” in Amos ‘n Andy television show and for directing the 1941 race film The Blood of Jesus. Williams was born in Vidalia, Louisiana. As a young child, he attended Wards Academy in Natchez, Mississippi. He moved to New York City  as a teenager to secure work as a call boy for the theatrical impresario Oscar Hammerstein. While in New York he received mentoring as a comedian from the African-American Vaudeville star Bert Williams.

Williams served in the U.S Army during World War I. He rose to the rank of Sergeant. After the war, he arrived in Hollywood in 1923, where he began to take small acting roles in motion pictures. In 1929, Williams was hired by producer Al Christie to create the dialogue for a series of two-reel comedy films featuring all- casts. As Williams began to gain the trust of Christie, he was eventually appointed the responsibility to create The Melancholy Dame, films that were considered the first black talkie shows. Due to the pressures of the depression doubled with the lowering demand for black short films, Williams and Christie separated ways.



During the Great Depression, Williams struggled for employment and only received small roles. He played in racial stereotypes and used grammatically incorrect dialogue, included in The Framing of the Shrew, The Lady Fare, Oft in the Silly Night, and a few others. Williams also appeared in the all African-American version of Lulu Belle in 1929.

Before Williams appeared in the Amos ‘n Andy Show he was well-liked in the Black communities. Up until the show Williams had never worked in television. Amos ‘n Andy was the first U.S television program with an all-black cast, running for 78 episodes. But the program created controversy within the Black community. Even the NAACP tried to halt the premiere of the show. The program was eventually pulled from release in 1966, under pressure from civil rights groups that stated it offered a negatively distorted view of life. The show would not be seen on nationwide television again until 2012. Williams passed on from a kidney ailment on December 13, 1969, at the Sawtelle Veterans Administration Hospital in Los Angeles, California.





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