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Publisher's Summary

The rags-to-riches story of a groundbreaking, beloved entertainer.

When The Flip Wilson Show debuted in 1970, black faces were still rare on television, black hosts nonexistent. So how did Clerow “Flip” Wilson go from Jersey City grade-school dropout to national celebrity, heralded on the cover of Time as “TV’s first black superstar”?

Flip is a candid, entertaining biography of a consummate comedian who changed the face of American popular culture. Kevin Cook chronicles Flip’s meteoric rise through the Chitlin’ Circuit of segregated nightclubs to his breakthrough on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show to his hit variety show, on which he created such outrageous and hilarious characters as the sassy Geraldine and flock-fleecing Reverend Leroy. As one of the biggest stars of his time, he performed and partied with Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley, and other stars of the 1970s.

Drawing on interviews with family, friends, and celebrities, Cook delivers the inspiring story of a complex man who broke the prime-time color barrier, blazing a trail for generations of African American performers who followed him.

©2013 Kevin Cook (P)2013 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

“Drawing on interviews with family, friends, and Wilson’s colleagues, journalist Cook delivers a candid and entertaining look at Wilson’s meteoric rise.… Cook’s fiercely honest biography captures the tumultuous and winning personality of the man who introduced many memorable characters to the world and who paved the way for black comedians such as Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, and Tyler Perry." (Publishers Weely)
"In this frank but somewhat sympathetic biography, Cook recounts how the comedian constantly practiced his art through the 1950s and ’60s and achieved his dream of fame in the early ’70s only to be eclipsed soon after by younger, bolder comedians.… A well-told story of a man desperate to succeed in the rapidly changing world of American entertainment." (Booklist)

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Flip, what a life...

I liked the story. I found it to be a very honest and blunt story of Flip a Wilson's life. However the honesty left me a bit sad because Flip had demons that he didn't deal with; like his relationship with his mother, his relationship with his children, and the fact that he would get high with his children and involve them in his drug activity, and his relationship with women – which was clearly impacted by his relationship with his mom. I'm sorry his estate was not better protected too that his children received such a small amount of money. I know what he stated his wishes were, but I would hate to think that he in tensional he left a son with disabilities in so much need.

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Entertaining.

This is a story of a man the was a comedy maverick who pulls his way out of a loveless childhood. Funny and colorful

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Fascinating Entertainer and Individual

This is an entertaining and well-researched biography of Flip Wilson, a popular and groundbreaking African-American TV star.

Flip Wilson's life was fascinating. After Flip's mother abandoned him and his eleven siblings when he was seven years old, Flip had to tough it out in foster homes, juvenile hall, and in relatives' homes. He lied about his age in order to serve in the Korean War. Then he spent many years trying to make it as a comedian in an era in which African-Americans were openly discriminated against. He found huge success as the star and writer (along with Richard Pryor and George Carlin) of his own TV variety show, making millions and then semi-retiring and raising his children. He became a Vegas headliner, a motorcyle enthusiast, and a hot air balloon pilot.

The author paints a full picture of Flip Wilson, showing his good sides and his bad sides. This audiobook is fast-paced, yet also thoughtful and inspiring.