Professor Jacqueline Stewart is currently conducting research on the life and work of actor/director/writer Spencer Williams.
Probably best known for his role as Andrew “Hogg” Brown on the television series Amos ‘n’ Andy, Williams is less known for his extensive work in film, particularly as a director. Williams’ cinematic career spans from the early days of sound film (late 1920s) to the demise of the race film industry after World War II. He began his film career as a bit player and sound technician. He then wrote for and starred in numerous Black-cast films before going on to direct nine features during the 1940s. One of these films, The Blood of Jesus (1941) was selected by the Library of Congress for inclusion on its National Film Registry, a listing of films deemed “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant” and therefore worthy of preservation.
Unfortunately, Williams is typically overshadowed by the flamboyant figure of fellow Black film pioneer Oscar Micheaux in accounts of the race film era, despite the fact that Williams was quite prolific, and made films that raise unique questions about Black cinematic aesthetics and the contours of Black modernism and modernity.
Prof. Stewart is seeking information about Williams’ biography and work history. She is especially interested in locating individuals who worked with Williams in front of and/or behind the camera. If you have information or leads, please contact:
Committee on Cinema and Media Studies
University of Chicago
5845 South Ellis Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
Spencer Williams Selected Filmography (as actor and/or writer and/or director) Title Year King of Kings 1927 Tarzan and the Golden Lion 1927 Ham and Eggs 1927 The Melancholy Dame 1928 Tenderfeet 1928 Naughty Nurse 1928 Steamboat Bill Jr. 1928 Brown Gravy 1929 The Framing of the Shrew 1929 The Lady Fare 1929 Music Hath Harms 1929 Oft in the Silly Night 1929 Georgia Rose 1930 Hot Biscuits (d. Spencer Williams) 1931 Coronado 1935 The Virginia Judge 1935 Harlem on the Prairie 1938 Two Gun Man From Harlem 1938 Bad Boy 1939 Bronze Buckaroo 1939 Harlem Rides the Range 1939 Son of Ingagi 1940 The Blood of Jesus (d. Spencer Williams) 1941 The Toppers Take a Bow 1941 Brother Martin, Servant of Jesus (d. Spencer Williams) 1942 Marching On! (d. Spencer Williams) 1943 Go Down, Death! (d. Spencer Williams) 1944 Of One Blood (d. Spencer Williams) 1944 Beale Street Mama (d. Spencer Williams) 1946 Dirtie Gertie From Harlem , U.S.A. (d. Spencer Williams) 1946 The Girl in Room 20 (d. Spencer Williams) 1946 Juke Joint (d. Spencer Williams) 1947
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