Our Inductees: Timmie Rogers

Biography

Timmie Rodgers was the 11th Inductee into the Official National Comedy Hall of Fame®. He was an American comedian, singer-songwriter, bandleader and actor who appeared on many national TV shows in the 1960s and 1970s. Rogers was one of the first Black comedians allowed to directly address a white audience when he worked.

Before Rogers, African-American funny men had to either work in pairs or groups, only conversing with each other, and they had to play a character, while popular white comedians, such as Bob Hope and Jack Benny got to play themselves.

His humor was clean, topical, and political. Rogers is often called the Jackie Robinson of comedy, because he opened the door for other performers such as Dick Gregory and Bill Cosby.

He was known as the Unknown Pioneer of (Black) Comedy. He insisted on not wearing blackface when performing his comedy act and stood firm with his conviction. His catchphrase was “Oh Yeah!” and it was a part of his act for over 50 

years. Rogers starred in US television’s first black prime-time show Uptown Jubilee on CBS Television in 1949.

He was also a recurring guest star on The Jackie Gleason Show for over 12 years, and would continue to work with Jackie Gleason for the next thirty years. Rogers later credited Gleason for giving him national exposure which helped his career.[3] Rogers also wrote music including “”If You Can’t Smile and Say Yes”, a song recorded by Nat King Cole. He also wrote songs for Carmen McRae and Sarah Vaughan.[4] In the late 1950s and living in Philadelphia, he recorded on Cameo and Parkway Records. His hits included “Back to School Again” and “I Love Ya, I Love Ya, I Love Ya”.

 

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