Flip Wilson

Comedian, Actor, Comedy writer
The hip and irreverent Flip Wilson, who got more mileage out of wearing a dress than any entertainer since Milton Berle, made television history as the first black to headline a hit variety show. At its height, "The ... Read more »
Born: 12/08/1933 in Jersey City, New Jersey, USA

Filmography

Actor (40)

100 Greatest Stand-Ups of All Time 2003 - 2004 (TV Show)

Actor

The Drew Carey Show 1992 - 1993, 1996 - 1997 (Tv Show)

Actor

The Ed Sullivan All-Star Comedy Special 1994 - 1995 (TV Show)

Actor

Living Single 1992 - 1993 (Tv Show)

Actor

The Jaleel White Special 1991 - 1992 (TV Show)

Actor

Charlie & Company 1985 - 1986 (TV Show)

Actor

Star Games 1985 - 1986 (TV Show)

Actor

Battle of the Network Stars XVI 1983 - 1984 (TV Show)

Actor

Bob Hope Special: Happy Birthday, Bob! 1982 - 1983 (TV Show)

Actor

The Suzanne Somers Special 1981 - 1982 (TV Show)

Actor

Take One Starring Jonathan Winters 1980 - 1981 (TV Show)

Actor

The Big Show 1979 - 1980 (TV Show)

Actor

The Cheap Detective 1979 - 1980 (TV Show)

Actor

Uptown 1979 - 1980 (TV Show)

Actor

Skatetown, USA 1979 (Movie)

Harvey Ross (Actor)

The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh 1979 (Movie)

Coach "Jock" Delaney (Actor)

A Tribute to "Mr. Television," Milton Berle 1977 - 1978 (TV Show)

Actor

Celebrity Challenge of the Sexes 1977 - 1978 (TV Show)

Actor

Cher 1974 - 1976 (TV Show)

Actor

The Bob Hope Comedy Special 1975 - 1976 (TV Show)

Actor

The Flip Wilson Comedy Special 1975 - 1976 (TV Show)

Actor

Bob Hope Special: Bob Hope on Campus 1974 - 1975 (TV Show)

Actor

Flip Wilson... Of Course 1974 - 1975 (TV Show)

Actor

Milton Berle's Mad Mad Mad World of Comedy 1974 - 1975 (TV Show)

Actor

The Flip Wilson Special 1974 - 1975 (TV Show)

Actor

The Flip Wilson Special 1974 - 1975 (TV Show)

Actor

The Flip Wilson Special 1974 - 1975 (TV Show)

Actor

The Flip Wilson Show 1970 - 1974 (TV Show)

Actor

Uptown Saturday Night 1974 (Movie)

Reverend (Actor)

Bing Crosby -- Cooling It 1972 - 1973 (TV Show)

Actor

Jack Benny's First Farewell Show 1972 - 1973 (TV Show)

Actor

The Andy Williams Special 1970 - 1971 (TV Show)

Actor

Bing Crosby -- Cooling It 1969 - 1970 (TV Show)

Actor

The Many Moods of Perry Como 1969 - 1970 (TV Show)

Actor

People Are Funny (TV Show)

Actor

Pinocchio (TV Show)

Actor

Zora Is My Name! (TV Show)

Actor
Writer (1)

The Flip Wilson Special 1974 - 1975 (TV Show)

Writer
Producer (1)

The Helen Reddy Show 1972 - 1973 (TV Show)

Executive Producer

Biography

The hip and irreverent Flip Wilson, who got more mileage out of wearing a dress than any entertainer since Milton Berle, made television history as the first black to headline a hit variety show. At its height, "The Flip Wilson Show" (NBC, 1970-1974) was one of TV's hottest hours, No. 2 in the Nielsen ratings its first two seasons, and enabled its star to walk away a very wealthy man after only four seasons. Debuting not long after the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr and Robert Kennedy, the show cut across racial lines, clicking with people of all backgrounds. Audiences loved the musical guests--the Jackson Five, James Brown, Louis Armstrong and Lena Horne, for example--but the real draw was Wilson's comedy characters. Vamped out as the outrageous, miniskirted Geraldine, Wilson delivered lines that entered the nation's vocabulary like, "The devil made me do it!" and "What you see is what you get!" The Reverend LeRoy of the Church of What's Happening Now and Herbie, the Good Time ice cream man, were two of his other popular creations.

Relationships

Cornelia Wilson

Mother

Cookie Mackenzie

Wife
second wife married in 1979 divorced in 1985

Blonell Pitman

Companion
common-law wife mother of Wilson's four children

Michelle Pittman

Step-Daughter
born c. 1956

Clerow Wilson

Father

Peaches Wilson

Wife
married and divorcedin 1957

Stacey Wilson

Daughter
born c. 1970

Tamara Wilson

Daughter
born c. 1967

David Wilson

Son
born c. 1960 left a quadriplegic after a 1993 accident

Kevin Wilson

Son
born c. 1962

Milestones

1997

Reruns of "The Flip Wilson Show" debuted on Nick at Nite and then moved to sister channel Nick at Nite's TV Land

1996

Made another appearance as himself in ABC's "The Drew Carey Show"

1993

Appeared as himself on Fox's "Living Single"

1990

Portrayed God in "Zora Is My Name!", a PBS "American Playhouse" drama about African-American writer, oral historian and folklorist Zora Neal Hurston

1984

Hosted NBC's short-lived "People Are Funny", an updated version of the 1950s series hosted by Art Linkletter

1981

Dropped as commercial spokesman for 7-Up when he was arrested for possession of a small amount of cocaine

1976

Played The Fox in CBS's musical adaptation of "Pinocchio"

1974

Feature debut as Reverend in "Uptown Saturday Night"

1973

Served as executive producer of NBC's "The Helen Reddy Show"

1968

Rocketed to national attention with a smash hit television comedy/variety special on NBC in September

1950

Served in US Air Force; gained enough confidence from performances before fellow servicemen to consider show business as a career; earned nickname 'Flip' for his irreverent humor

1941

Brought the house down as last minute replacement for the little girl cast as Clara Barton in Jersey City school play when he was 9 years old (date approximate)

Carved a niche for himself in comedic television history as the host of "The Flip Wilson Show"

Series of one-nighters eventually led to New York's Apollo and prime engagements in Miami Beach and Las Vegas

While working as a bell-hop at a San Francisco hotel, convinced manager to let him play a drunk during the wardrobe changes of the hotel's main act

During the 1960s became a popular guest on several top shows, most notably NBC's "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In"

Raised in foster homes

Starred as Charlie Richmond in the CBS sitcom "Charlie & Company" opposite Gladys Knight; Jaleel White in his pre-Urkel days played Charlie's 9-year old son

Hosted series of specials on NBC

Bonus Trivia

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He underwent surgery in September 1998 to remove a cancerous tumor near his liver.

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Wilson owned the record label, Little David, home of George Carlin's hit recordings

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Flip Wilson appeared on a cover of TIME magazine

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Got his nickname in the air force for his "flip" remarks

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"If I could marry my motorcycle, I'd roll her right up to the altar." --Flip Wilson on his passion for motorcycling, in Biography Magazine, September 1997.

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About being stymied on "Charlie and Company": "I told CBS, 'My career is going down the toilet, and you're pulling the chain.'" --Wilson in TV Guide, August 16, 1997.

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Wilson has been living off his interest, never touching the principal, but with Nick buying the return rights to the show, "The principal, the teacher and the whole class are very happy." --From USA Today, August 18, 1997.

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About his new idea that might be ready: "I have the bug again. I'm expecting the response to seeing the show again on Nick to be very good, and this will set the groundwork for what I want to do."--From USA Today, August 18, 1997.

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