Nick Stewart

Last Surviving Cast Member of "Amos 'N' Andy"


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his three-and-a-half hour Archive interview, Nick Stewart (1910-2000) talks about his early comedic work with Milton Berle and Eddie Cantor. He explains how his work with Mae West and John Wayne led him to his breakthrough role as "Lightnin'" on the controversial Amos n' Andy - television's first show featuring an all-black cast. Stewart discusses black stereotypes and his feelings about the NAACP's reaction to the show, and also speaks about the theater he opened 50 years ago to nurture the talent of young film and television writers and performers. Dan Pasternack conducted the interview on June 20, 1997 in Los Angeles, CA.

"[Regarding 'Amos 'N' Andy'] I thought I had to do the best with what I had. If I didn't take those roles, you wouldn't have black theater. We would have had no Sidney Poitier, we would have nobody. I took the money I earned from the show and built the first and longest lasting black theater in America."

Highlights
Nick Stewart on playing "Lightnin'" on Amos 'N' Andy
04:10
Nick Stewart on the NAACP protests of Amos 'N' Andy
02:45
Nick Stewart on Amos 'N' Andy  creators Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll and the creative team
03:10
Nick Stewart on Tim Moore as "Kingfish" on Amos 'N' Andy
02:44
Nick Stewart on founding the Ebony Showcase Theatre
07:32
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early years and influences; on being born in New York and living in Barbados during his childhood; on returning to America at age eight; on attending reform school and starting to put together acts
On how he got the nickname "Nicodemus"; on his career as a dancer and overcoming his stage fright; on his "Sawdust and Sand" act and playing the Vaudeville circuit; on working with Cab Calloway
On meeting Mae West and then being in one of her movies, "Go West, Young Man"

Chapter 2

On dancing at the Cotton Club; on criminals who frequented the club; on the "Chitlin Circuit"; on appearing at the Apollo Theater with Ella Fitzgerald
On performing for both black and white audiences on the Vaudeville circuit; on black performers and the type of comedy they practiced; on black comedians being on the NAACP "hit list"
On working with bandleaders Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, and Louis Armstrong; on his cameo in "It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World"
On films he made in the 1940s and '50s; on his role in the Disney film "Song of the South"
On his start in radio and auditioning for The Jack Benny Show (radio version)

Chapter 3

On meeting Eddie Cantor and appearing on his radio show; on overcoming his stage fright and enjoying his work in radio
On meeting and working with Alan Young and Rudy Vallee; on participating in an experimental broadcast of television
On playing "Lightnin'" on Amos 'N' Andy; on the cast of Amos 'N' Andy; on the NAACP protests of Amos 'N' Andy

Chapter 4

On Amos 'N' And y creators Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll and the creative team; on his favorite episodes of Amos 'N' Andy; on the production of Amos 'N' Andy; on the end of Amos 'N' Andy due to protests from the NAACP
On founding the Ebony Showcase Theatre; on the early productions staged at the Ebony Showcase Theatre

Chapter 5

On various productions by the Ebony Showcase Theatre; on a television show that emanated from the Ebony Showcase Theatre; on the role of Ebony Showcase Theatre in the community
On the closure of the Ebony Showcase Theatre
On playing "Willy-Willy" on Ramar of the Jungle;  on appearing in Otto Preminger's feature "Carmen Jones"; on appearing in Stanley Kramer's feature "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World"

Chapter 6

On how race relations affected the television industry; on the then-current state of African-Americans on television; on his then-current activities and his impact on show business
On advice to those starting in the entertainment industry; on how he'd like to be remembered; on various performers he's worked with in his career

Chapter 7

On various performers he worked with in his career; on Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science
On B-roll pictures from his career- the house he grew up in; with authors Ron Clark and Sam Bobrick; in the play "Three Men on a Horse"; publicity shot circa 1936; performing in a USO show; with daughter Valerie; as "Lightnin'" from Amos 'N' Andy; with Milton Berle; still from "Song of the South"; Exterior of The Ebony Showcase Theatre; with Gregory Hines; with Susan Hayward; production still from Amos 'N' Andy; with wife Edna Stewart
Shows

Amos 'N' Andy

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Nick Stewart on playing "Lightnin'" on Amos 'N' Andy
04:10
Nick Stewart on the premise of Amos 'N' Andy
01:41
Nick Stewart on Tim Moore as "Kingfish" on Amos 'N' Andy
02:44
Nick Stewart on Alvin Childress as "Amos" on Amos 'N' Andy
01:08
Nick Stewart on Spencer Williams as "Andy" on Amos 'N' Andy
00:53
Nick Stewart on Ernestine Wade as "Sapphire" on Amos 'N' Andy
01:01
Nick Stewart on Johnny Lee as "Calhoun" and Amanda Randolph on Amos 'N' Andy
00:49
Nick Stewart on his character "Lightnin'" on Amos 'N' Andy
02:34
Nick Stewart on the NAACP protests of Amos 'N' Andy
02:45
Nick Stewart on Amos 'N' Andy creators Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll and the creative team
03:10
Nick Stewart on being dismissed from Amos 'N' Andy
01:58
Nick Stewart on his favorite episodes of Amos 'N' Andy
02:13
Nick Stewart on the production of Amos 'N' Andy
03:03
Nick Stewart on the end of Amos 'N' Andy due to protests from the NAACP
05:16

Jack Benny Program, The

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Nick Stewart on auditioning for The Jack Benny Show on radio and Eddie Cantor liking his performance
01:29

Ramar of the Jungle

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Nick Stewart on playing "Willy-Willy" on Ramar of the Jungle
04:40

Sanford and Son

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Nick Stewart on Sanford and Son
02:45
Topics

Advice

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Nick Stewart on advice to those starting in the entertainment industry
01:46

Diversity in Television

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Nick Stewart on performing for both black and white audiences on the Vaudeville circuit
02:54
Nick Stewart on black performers and the type of comedy they practiced
02:24
Nick Stewart on the NAACP protests of Amos 'N' Andy
02:45
Nick Stewart on the end of Amos 'N' Andy  due to protests from the NAACP
05:16
Nick Stewart on how race relations affected the television industry
03:43
Nick Stewart on the then-current state of African-Americans on television 
05:56

Historic Events and Social Change

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Nick Stewart on performing for both black and white audiences on the Vaudeville circuit
02:54
Nick Stewart on black performers and the type of comedy they practiced
02:24
Nick Stewart on the NAACP protests of Amos 'N' Andy
02:45
Nick Stewart on the end of Amos 'N' Andy  due to protests from the NAACP
05:16
Nick Stewart on how race relations affected the television industry
03:43
Nick Stewart on the then-current state of African-Americans on television 
05:56

Minorities

View Topic
Nick Stewart on performing for both black and white audiences on the Vaudeville circuit
02:54
Nick Stewart on black performers and the type of comedy they practiced
02:24
Nick Stewart on the NAACP protests of Amos 'N' Andy
02:45
Nick Stewart on the end of Amos 'N' Andy  due to protests from the NAACP (Part 2)
05:16
Nick Stewart on how race relations affected the television industry
03:43
Nick Stewart on the then-current state of African-Americans on television 
05:56

Television Industry

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Nick Stewart on the then-current state of African-Americans on television 
05:56
Nick Stewart on advice to those starting in the entertainment industry
01:46
Professions

Actor

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Nick Stewart on advice to those starting in the entertainment industry
01:46

Performers

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Nick Stewart on advice to those starting in the entertainment industry
01:46
Genres

Adventure/Espionage Series

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Nick Stewart on playing "Willy-Willy" on Ramar of the Jungle
04:40

Comedy Series

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Nick Stewart on Amos 'N' Andy
17:45
Nick Stewart on Amos 'N' Andy  (Part 2)
15:41
People

Harry Belafonte

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Nick Stewart on appearing in Otto Preminger's feature "Carmen Jones"
04:31

Eddie Cantor

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Nick Stewart on auditioning for The Jack Benny Show on radio and Eddie Cantor liking his performance
01:29
Nick Stewart on meeting and working with Eddie Cantor and learning valuable lessons from him
03:37

Charles Correll

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Nick Stewart on Amos 'N' Andy  creators Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll and the creative team
03:09

Dorothy Dandridge

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Nick Stewart on appearing in Otto Preminger's feature "Carmen Jones"
04:31

Walt Disney

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Nick Stewart on his role in the Disney film "Song of the South"
04:50

Ella Fitzgerald

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Nick Stewart on performing with Ella Fitzgerald at the Apollo Theater
01:11

Freeman Gosden

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Nick Stewart on Amos 'N' Andy creators Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll and the creative team
03:09

Lena Horne

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Nick Stewart on the film "Cabin in the Sky"
02:34

Stanley Kramer

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Nick Stewart on appearing in Stanley Kramer's feature "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World"
02:08

Louis B. Mayer

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Nick Stewart on the film "Cabin in the Sky"
02:34

Otto Preminger

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Nick Stewart on appearing in Otto Preminger's feature "Carmen Jones"
04:31

Rudy Vallee

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Nick Stewart on working with Rudy Vallee
00:30

Mae West

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Nick Stewart on meeting Mae West and then being in one of her movies, "Go West, Young Man"
00:37

Alan Young

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Nick Stewart on auditioning for The Jack Benny Show on radio and Eddie Cantor liking his performance
01:29
Nick Stewart on meeting and working with Alan Young
00:44

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