The Inside Story of TV's First Black Superstar
By Kevin Cook
Viking Books, Hardcover, 9780670025701, 256pp.
Publication Date: April 18, 2013
List Price: $26.95*
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When "The Flip Wilson Show" debuted in 1970, black faces were still rare on television, black hosts nonexistent. So how did Clerow "Flip" Wilson go from Jersey City grade-school dropout to national celebrity, heralded on the cover of "Time" as "TV's First Black Superstar"?
"Flip" is a candid, entertaining biography of a consummate comedian who changed the face of American popular culture. Kevin Cook chronicles Flip's meteoric rise through the Chitlin' Circuit of segregated nightclubs to his breakthrough on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show to his hit variety show, on which he created such outrageous and hilarious characters as the sassy Geraldine and flock-fleecing Reverend Leroy. As one of the biggest stars of his time, he performed and partied with Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley, and other stars of the 1970s.
Drawing on interviews with family, friends, and celebrities, Cook delivers the inspiring story of a complex man who broke the prime-time color barrier, blazing a trail for generations of African American performers who followed him.
"Candid and entertaining... Cook's fiercely honest biography captures the tumultuous and winning personality of the man."
“An engaging story.”
~The Los Angeles Times
[Kevin Cook] keeps the story just as Flip Wilson kept his act and his audience, "in fun."
~The Wall Street Journal
"Flip Wilson was wonderful. His material advanced the possibility of human unity and hilarity."