Cover image for Prime time blues : African Americans on network television
Prime time blues : African Americans on network television
Bogle, Donald.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2001.
Physical Description:
520 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PN1992.8.A34 B64 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
PN1992.8.A34 B64 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
PN1992.8.A34 B64 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Black History Non-Circ
PN1992.8.A34 B64 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order


Author Notes

Donald Bogle is the author of numerous books, including Dorothy Dandridge: A Biography and Toms, Coons, Mulattoes, Mammies, & Bucks. He teaches at the University of Pennsylvania and New York University and lives in New York City.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

Bogle, author of Dorothy Dandridge (1997), offers an absorbing look at the potential and the disappointment of television, the most ubiquitous American cultural medium, and its place in the racial history of the nation. With the aid of photographs and detailed descriptions of the plots and characterizations of television shows, Bogle traces television's treatment of race and black performers from the controversial racial stereotyping of Amos `n' Andy and Beulah through the deracialized appeal of The Cosby Show. The discussion is further enlivened by profiles of black performers' careers, such as that of Ethel Waters and Oprah Winfrey, noting their triumphs and humiliations. Bogle recalls the firsts in television and race history, for example, the first television show with a black star (The Ethel Waters Show) and the first interracial kiss on a television show (Uhura and Captain Kirk on Star Trek). He examines the slow process of moving from the racial neutrality of Julia to grittier portrayals of urban and racial realities in the U.S with Hill Street Blues, Equal Justice, and similar dramas. This is an extensive and even-handed look at how television has mirrored and distorted race images and issues in the premier multiracial society. Vanessa Bush

Publisher's Weekly Review

From its earliest days, television has always had a problem with color. The advent of Technicolor didn't change the fact that most actors on TV were white. Even in the mid-1970s, when African-American actors began appearing more regularly on network shows, the roles open to them were rigidly circumscribed. In this thoroughly researched, witty and often shocking social history, media scholar Bogle fashions an in-depth chronicle of the way television has mirrored and influenced the politics of race in the U.S. His analysis remains attuned to how the earliest black performersD"Eddie" Rochester on The Jack Benny Show; Ethel Waters, Hattie McDaniel and Louise Beavers playing the indefatigably cheerful black maid Beulah; and Alvin Childress and Spencer Williams in Amos n' AndyDmanaged to communicate authentically with African-American viewers, despite often finding themselves "cast in parts that were shameless, dishonest travesties of African American life and culture." Situating its critique within a broad economic and industry analysis, the book addresses such major issues as the pressure of sponsors and the advent of cable on the portrayal of African-American subject matter. The author of Dorothy Dandridge and Toms, Coons, Mulattos, Mammies, & Bucks, Bogle pulls no punches (e.g., chastising the popular Sanford and Son for what he sees as its anti-Asian racism and homophobia). This major new work in television and media studies will be welcomed by both academics and general readers. 60 b&w photos. Agent, Marie Brown. 5-city author tour. (Feb. 24) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

The history of network television is filled with examples of talented black actors tackling memorable roles in noted primetime television series. In scholarly yet accessible fashion, Bogle (history, New York Univ.; Dorothy Dandridge: A Biography) brings these examples together. His book is particularly notable as perhaps the first complete chronicle of the evolution of black television from its inception in the 1940s to the present. The author, who has covered the exploits of black TV and media personalities before (he recently appeared on an E! Entertainment Network biography of Josephine Baker), here shows us that people of color have helped define network television as we know it today and continue to contribute creatively to the medium. His illuminating and entertaining study is recommended for all popular TV and media sections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 10/15/00.]DDavid M. Lisa, Wayne P.L., NJ (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Bogle's lengthy, well-researched, and in-depth overview of African Americans on network television deserves a place in all libraries, from high school on up. On one level, the book serves as a reference work on actors, series, casting of leads and supporting characters, and production details of many shows from the 1950s to 1999. But Bogle (Univ. of Pennsylvania and NYU) also analyzes the context and importance of many series in considerable detail, dismissing others of short-term interest. His organization is primarily chronological, but he does logically group comedies, dramas, and special events in separate chapters. In addition, he traces the careers of important actors in appropriate sections. He is especially interesting when discussing forgotten shows of television's early years and is also fairly objective when providing responses to television from a range of African American perspectives. Bogle clearly sees television (taken as a whole) as deficient in portraying African Americans. He compliments only a few programs, most notably The Cosby Show of the 1990s. Bogle's study updates and to some degree supersedes the most important previous standard work on the subject, J. Fred Macdonald's Blacks and White TV: Afro-Americans in Television since 1948 (CH, Sep'83). All collections. W. Britton Harrisburg Area Community College

Table of Contents

Introductionp. 3
1. The 1950s: Scrapsp. 9
2. The 1960s: Social Symbolsp. 92
3. The 1970s: Jokestersp. 172
4. The 1980s: Superstarsp. 251
5. The 1990s: Free-for-Allsp. 365
Notesp. 471
Bibliographyp. 487
Acknowledgmentsp. 491
Indexp. 495