Bert Williams: A Biography of the Pioneer Black Comedian Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Bert Williams: A Biography of the Pioneer Black Comedian

Egbert "Bert" Williams is generally considered to be the greatest vaudeville comedian in American history. That he is mostly forgotten today, except by historians, is a pity. He died in 1922 after having made a very few films and so there is not a lot of photographic record of his genius.
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Eric Ledell Smith's book on Williams covers as much as is possible about someone who was rather private and whose biography was largely invented by the fan magazines. The biography covers Williams' legendary collaboration with George Walker to create the winning team of Williams & Walker, and his venture into solo work after Walker's death. He became one of the greatest stars of the legendary Ziegfeld Follies, alongside such luminaries as Fanny Brice and Eddie Cantor. He introduced his signature song "Nobody," which can still be heard if you know where to look for it, and is still just as moving as it was in its heyday.

The book also delves into the difficulties he encountered as a pioneer on the vaudeville stage, and the business difficulties he faced in trying to make sure that all members of society, no matter what their color, would be able to enjoy his performances. W.C. Field said of Williams - "He was the funniest man I ever saw, and the saddest man I ever knew." This book helps you to understand why this was true.
The review of this Book prepared by Graceann Maciolek

Chapter Analysis of Bert Williams: A Biography of the Pioneer Black Comedian

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Plot & Themes

Ethnic/Relig. of subject (inside)    -   Black Job/profession/poverty story    -   Yes Ethnic/regional/gender    -   Yes Story of entertainer?    -   Comedian Period of greatest activity?    -   1900+

Subject of Biography

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   actor/actress/producer Ethnicity    -   Black Nationality    -   American


How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   2 () United States    -   Yes The US:    -   Northeast City?    -   Yes City:    -   New York Century:    -   1900-1920's

Writing Style

Book makes you feel?    -   thoughtful If this is a kid's book:    -   Age 16-Adult Pictures/Illustrations?    -   More 6-10 B&W How much dialogue in bio?    -   little dialog How much of bio focuses on most famous period of life?    -   51%-75% of book

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Eric Ledell Smith Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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