Hired by CBS as producers of the television show, Gosden and Correll were ready to try bringing the show to television as early as 1946; the search for cast members went on for four years before filming began. According to a 1950 newspaper story, Gosden and Correll had initial aspirations of voicing the characters Amos, Andy and Kingfish for television, while the actors hired for these roles performed and apparently were to lip-sync the story lines. A year later, both spoke about how they realized they were visually unsuited to play the television roles, citing difficulties with making the Check and Double-Check film. No further mention was made about Gosden and Correll continuing to voice the key male roles in the television series. Corell and Gosden did record the lines of the main male characters to serve as a guideline for the television show dialogue at one point. In 1951, the men targeted 1953 for their retirement from broadcasting; there was speculation that their radio roles might be turned over to black actors at that time.
Adapted to television, The Amos ‘n Andy Show was produced from June 1951 to April 1953 with 78 filmed episodes, sponsored by the Blatz Brewing Company. The television series used black actors in the main roles, although the actors were instructed to keep their voices and speech patterns close to those of Gosden and Correll. Produced at the Hal Roach Studios for CBS, the show was among the first television series to be filmed with a multicamera setup, four months before I Love Lucy used the technique. The series’ theme song was based on radio show’s “The Perfect Song” but became Gaetano Braga’s “Angel’s Serenade”, performed by The Jeff Alexander Chorus. The program debuted on June 28, 1951.
The main roles in the television series were played by the following black actors:
Amos Jones – Alvin Childress
Andrew Hogg Brown (Andy) – Spencer Williams
George “Kingfish” Stevens – Tim Moore
Sapphire Stevens – Ernestine Wade
Ramona Smith (Sapphire’s Mama) – Amanda Randolph
other casting included:
Madame Queen – Lillian Randolph
Algonquin J. Calhoun – Johnny Lee
Lightnin’ – Nick Stewart (billed as “Nick O’Demus”)
Ruby Jones – Jane Adams
This time, the NAACP mounted a formal protest almost as soon as the television version began, and that pressure was considered a primary factor in the show’s cancellation, even though it finished at #13 in the 1951-1952 season in the Nielsen ratings and at #25 in 1952-1953 (the sponsor, Blatz Beer, was targeted as well, finally discontinuing their advertising support in June 1953). It has been suggested that CBS erred in premiering the show at the same time as the 1951 NAACP national convention, perhaps increasing the objections to it. The show was widely repeated in syndicated reruns until 1966 when, in an unprecedented action for network television at that time, CBS finally gave in to pressure from the NAACP and the growing civil rights movement and withdrew the program, being also pulled from Australian network ABC, which had been broadcasting it for almost a decade. The series would not be seen on American television regularly for 46 more years. The television show has been available in bootleg VHS and DVD sets, which generally include 72 of the 78 known TV episodes.
When the show was cancelled, 65 episodes had been produced. An additional 13 episodes were produced to be added to the syndicated rerun package. These episodes were focused on Kingfish, with little participation from Amos ‘n’ Andy.
This is because these episodes were to be titled The Adventures of Kingfish, but they premiered under the Amos ‘n’ Andy title instead. The additional episodes first aired on CBS on January 4, 1955. Plans were made for a vaudeville act of the television program in August 1953, with Tim Moore, Alvin Childress and Spencer Williams playing the same roles. It is not known whether there were any performances. Still eager for television success, Gosden, Correll and CBS made initial efforts to give the series another try. The plan was to begin televising Amos ‘n’ Andy in the fall of 1956, with both of its creators appearing on television in a split screen with the proposed black cast.
A group of cast members began a “TV Stars of Amos ‘n’ Andy” cross-country tour in 1956, which was halted by CBS; the network considered it an infringement of their exclusive rights to the show and its characters. Following the threatened legal action that brought the 1956 tour to an end, Moore, Childress, Williams and Lee were able to perform in character for at least one night in 1957 in Windsor, Ontario.
“Amos n Andy 54 The Eyeglasses”
“Amos n Andy 31 Insurance Policy”