SPENCER WILLIAMS BIOGRAPHY & FILMOGRAPHY:
Spencer Williams was born in Vidalia, Louisiana. His family relocated to New York City when he was a young teenager and he worked as a call boy for a theatrical impresario, Oscar hammerstein. Spencer had an interest in the entertainment industry as was mentored as a comedian from an African American vaudeville star, Bert Williams.
Upon completion of high school, Williams attended the University of Minnesota and took some time off his studies to serve his country in the US Army where he became a sergeant.
In 1923, he moved to Hollywood and began getting cast in small roles for a variety of motion pictures such as, "Steamboat Bill Jr. (1928). He was also working on his interest in music in which he recorded the song, "It Feels So Good" (1929). He was also hired by producer, Al Christie to create the dialogue for a series of two-reel comedy films featuring an all black cast, "The Framing of the Shrew", "The Lady Fare", "Melancholy Dame", "Music Hath Charms" and " Oft in the Silly Night" (all 1929). While working with producer, Christie, William's worked various positions as a sound technician, writer of scripts, casting agent and assistant director on many of the films.
The early 30's offered Williams a couple small roles on race films which were mostl low budget independently produced films with all black casts. Williams also created two screenplays for race film production, "Harlem Rides the Range" and "Son of Ingagi" (both 1939).
His work impressed a company, Sack Amusement Enterprises who produced and distributed race films, and therefore, offereed him the chance to write and direct a feature film titled, "The Blood of Jesus" (1941). The film was a major success resulting in Williams directing additional films for Sack Amusement Enterprises. Over the next six years the follwoing films were directed by Williams, "Brother Martin, Servant of Jesus" (1942), "Marching On!" (1943), "Go Down, Death!" (1944), "Of One Blood" (1944), "Dirty Gertie from Harlem U.S.A." (1946), "The Girl in Room 20" (1946), "Beale Street Mama" (1947) and "Juke Joint"" (1947).
After Williams completed "Juke Joint" he moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma and founded the American Business and Industrial College along with Amos T. Hall. When two white males, in 1948, Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll were gaining success on their radio show where they played the voices of an African American cast decided it was time to take their show, The Amos 'n Andy Show, to television, they conducted a nationwide search to find the right actor to play in their African American cast.
They had heard of Williams and lcoated his whereabouts. He was asked to audition for the cast to play Andrew Hogg Brown and was successfully cast along with Tim Moore as George 'Kingfish' Stevens and Alvin Childress as 'Amos Jones' and returned to Hollywood to work at the CBS studios. The show was a hit running for 78 episodes (1951-1953) and being the first television show with an all black cast even though there were many political issues with the show.
Follwoing the series ending, Williams tried to remain out of the publics eye. He did ahve one more credited role in,"L'Orrible Segreto del Dottor Hitchcock" (1962) playing a hospital orderly.
Sadly, December 13th, 1969, Spencer Williams died of a kidley ailment at the Sawtelle Veterans Administration Hospital in Los Angeles, California. He is buried at the Los Angeles National Cemetery.
He was mostly recognized for years for his role on te televison series and not really known as a director. Recognition for his directing talents came way after he passed away. It was not until 1991, that his work on, "The Blood of Jesus" which is considered to be his best work became added to the US Mational Film Registry.
1927 King of Kings
1927 Tarzan and the Golden Lion
1927 Ham and Eggs
1928 The Melancholy Dame
1928 Naughty Nurse
1928 Steamboat Bill Jr.
1929 Brown Gravy
1929 The Framing of the Shrew
1929 The Lady Fare
1929 Music Hath Harms
1929 Oft in the Silly Night
1930 Georgia Rose
1931 Hot Biscuits
1935 The Virginia Judge
1938 Harlem on the Prairie
1938 Two Gun Man From Harlem
1939 Bad Boy
1939 Bronze Buckaroo
1939 Harlem Rides the Range
1940 Son of Ingagi
1941 The Blood of Jesus
1941 The Toppers Take a Bow
1942 Brother Martin, Servant of Jesus
1943 Marching On!
1944 Go Down, Death!
1944 Of One Blood
1946 Beale Street Mama
1946 Dirty Gertie From Harlem U.S.A.
1946 The Girl in Room 20
1947 Juke Joint