Monday Open Thread | Black Women on Television: Ethel Waters & Louise Beavers as Beulah

We just had winter finales of some shows, and I was thinking about the evolution of Black women on television.


the beaulah show

The Beulah Show is an American situation-comedy series that ran on CBS Radio from 1945 to 1954, and on ABC Television from 1950 to 1952. The show is notable for being the first sitcom to star an African American actress. The show was controversial for its caricatures of African Americans.[1]

hattie as beulah


Originally portrayed by white actor Marlin Hurt, Beulah Brown first appeared in 1939 when Hurt introduced and played the character on the Hometown Incorporated radio series and in 1940 on NBC radio’s Show Boat series. In 1943, Beulah moved over to That’s Life and then became a supporting character on the popular Fibber McGee and Molly radio series in late 1944. In 1945, Beulah was spun off into her own radio show, The Marlin Hurt and Beulah Show, with Hurt still in the role. Beulah was employed as a housekeeper and cook for the Henderson family: father Harry, mother Alice and son Donnie. After Hurt died of a heart attack in 1946, he was replaced by another white actor, Bob Corley, and the series was retitled The Beulah Show.

When black actress Hattie McDaniel took over the role on November 24, 1947, she earned $1000 a week for the first season, doubled the ratings of the original series and pleased the NAACP which was elated to see a historic first: a black woman as the star of a network radio program.

McDaniel continued in the role until she became ill in 1952 and was replaced by Lillian Randolph, who was in turn replaced for the 1953-54 radio season by her sister, Amanda Randolph.

For most of the radio show’s run, the series ran as a 15-minute daily sitcom, a format popular among daytime serials.


In 1950, Roland Reed Productions adapted the property into a TV situation comedy for ABC, and the Beulah TV show ran for three seasons, Tuesday nights at 7:30 ET from October 3, 1950 to December 23, 1952.

Most of the comedy in the series derived from the fact that Beulah, referred to as “the queen of the kitchen”, has the ability to solve the problems that her employers cannot figure out. Other characters included Beulah’s boyfriend Bill Jackson, a handyman who is constantly proposing marriage, and Oriole, a befuddled maid for the family next door.

For at least the first season, the Beulah was filmed at a studio in the Bronx while Ethel Waters was simultaneously appearing on Broadway in The Member of the Wedding.[2]

ethel as beulah
Ethel Waters

Cast changes[edit]
Ethel Waters starred as Beulah for the first year of the TV series before quitting in 1951.[3] Hattie McDaniel, star of radio’s Beulah, was cast in the title role in Summer 1951,[3] but only filmed six shows before falling ill. She was quickly replaced by Louise Beavers in later 1951. The McDaniel episodes were shelved pending an improvement of her health, and so the second season began in April 1952 starting with the Beavers episodes. The six McDaniel episodes were tagged onto the end of the second season, starting July 1952 and running until August 1952. It was around this time that McDaniel learned that she had advanced breast cancer. Beavers returned in the role of Beulah for the first part of the third Beulah season, which aired from September to December 1952.

louise as beulah

Butterfly McQueen, (McDaniel’s fellow cast member from Gone With the Wind, where they had also played servant roles) starred as Oriole for the first season. Ruby Dandridge (Dorothy’s mother), Mrs. Kelso in Cabin in the Sky and the voice of Oriole on the radio version of Beulah, replaced McQueen when the entire television cast was overhauled upon the arrival of Hattie McDaniel. Percy “Bud” Harris originally portrayed Bill, but he walked out on the part during the first season, accusing the producers of forcing him to portray an “Uncle Tom” character. He was succeeded in the role by Casablanca pianist Dooley Wilson until Ernest Whitman followed radio co-stars McDaniel and Dandridge to TV in April 1952. The show was directed at various times by future sitcom veterans as Richard (L.) Bare and Abby Berlin.

Like the contemporaneous television program Amos ‘n’ Andy, Beulah came under attack from many critics, including the NAACP, which accused the show of supporting stereotypical depictions of black characters with Beulah viewed as a stereotypical “mammy” similar to Aunt Jemima.

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47 Responses to Monday Open Thread | Black Women on Television: Ethel Waters & Louise Beavers as Beulah

  1. The media is worried about terrorism in Syria and white supremacists are terrorizing black protesters in America. They need to report about the terrorism here on American soil.

  2. WhiteSupremacists dressed in ski masks shot 4 peaceful protesters. It’s terrorism, dammit. No different from what was done in Paris.

  3. rikyrah says:

    For Everyone Who’s Actually Still In Love With “Love Actually”
    Let’s shut down the criticism once and for all.

    posted on Nov. 23, 2015, at 6:38 a.m.

  4. rikyrah says:


    Posted on November 23, 2015

    Jennifer Lopez hosts the 2015 American Music Awards at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, California.

    Darlings, Miss Jenny had some hosting to do and girlfriend was NOT going to do it in just one dress. She wasn’t even going to do it in five dresses. No, Miss Lady had to go and secure herself no less than TEN outfits for this shindig. And the truly amazing part? She wore that many outfits and still managed to avoid anything that had the whiff of too much class or taste. Attagirl!

  5. Ametia says:



  6. rikyrah says:

    PragmaticObotsUnite @PragObots
    .@thereval Looks like Rahm Emanuel wants to meet w/Black clergy & community leaders becuz he’s looking for cover re: #LaquanMcDonald tape

  7. rikyrah says:

    FRIDAY, NOV 20, 2015 01:51 PM CST
    I went to church with Ted Cruz. He is building an army of young Christian voters in Iowa
    These Iowa voters buy into Fox News war on Christmas, and love Ted Cruz’s patriotic, end-times rhetoric. Look out

    Especially for kids. And it’s not happening in the distant past. It’s happening right now, according to Cruz.

    I’ve seen Cruz a few times, and his speech is pretty much the same. Lots of destruction, no thought to the consequences. He cracked a few jokes, which are important for any good speaker. Every politician does it. The ensuing laughter establishes a relaxed a rapport with the audience, and establishes who the in and out-groups are in binary opposition. Here’s one:

    “I spent most of last week in Washington, D.C., so it is great to be back in America.”

    The audience loved that one. No one likes Washington anymore, and it places the audience as the center of a place they love, at least abstractly–America. In-group identity politics that we all play at their best. Here the in-group being real Americans like the Ted and audience. Out-group–people in Washington.

    The rest of Cruz’s speech, including the jokes, continued this in-group vs. out-group dichotomy with as to be expected subsequent in-group favoritism and out-group derogation. The out-group of course quickly became Democrats, Hillary Clinton, and of course, Cruz’s favorite punching bag–President Obama.

  8. rikyrah says:

    FRIDAY, NOV 20, 2015 10:23 AM CST
    Hillary Clinton is playing a dangerous game: How her anti-Bernie talking points could cost her — and America — big time
    As her lead in the primary widens, Clinton seems to be moving back toward the center. This could be a huge mistake

    Hillary Clinton is starting to remind progressives why the name Clinton brings up such a mixed bag of emotions, and why it’s so hard to believe Clinton’s pivot to the left this campaign season. Lately, the “progressive who likes to get things done” has gone after her main competition, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., for his advocacy of a single-payer healthcare system, which is a staple of progressive policy, found in many other industrialized states like Canada and Taiwan. Taking a page out of the GOP handbook, Clinton and her campaigners have gone into fear-mongering mode about the fact that such a plan would cause an increase in taxes on the middle class.

    “Hardworking, middle-class families need a raise, not a tax increase,” said Clinton during the second Democratic debate, while a senior adviser to a pro-Clinton organization tweeted: “Hillary Clinton was the only one who ruled out raising taxes on the middle class – others talked about raising taxes to 70 and 90 percent.” Of course, this is nonsense. Sanders only stated the fact that the top rate was over 90 percent under Dwight Eisenhower. He was quite clear when he said: “We haven’t come up with an exact number yet, but it will not be as high as the number under Dwight D. Eisenhower, which was 90 percent. I’m not that much of a socialist compared to Eisenhower.” (Plus, people seem to forget that he is talking about a progressive tax, with top rates only on income over a certain level, not all of the income an eligible individual earns.)

  9. rikyrah says:

    Just when it seemed Trump couldn’t stoop any lower…
    11/23/15 08:40 AM
    facebook twitter 2 save share group 38
    By Steve Benen
    Late last week, as was first reported on The Rachel Maddow Show, Donald Trump boasted that through “good management,” he could create some kind of federal registry of Muslim Americans. It was hard not to wonder where the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination could possibly go next.

    The answer became clearer yesterday when Trump sat down with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, who pressed the GOP candidate on some of the pertinent details of his radical vision.
    STEPHANOPOULOS: You did stir up a controversy with those comments over the database. Let’s try to clear that up. Are you unequivocally now ruling out a database on all Muslims?

    TRUMP: No, not at all. I want a database for the refugees that – if they come into the country. We have no idea who these people are. When the Syrian refugees are going to start pouring into this country, we don’t know if they’re ISIS, we don’t know if it’s a Trojan horse. And I definitely want a database and other checks and balances. We want to go with watchlists. We want to go with databases. And we have no choice.
    Note, Trump was asked about a database for “all Muslims,” which he answered by directing his attention to “Syrian refugees,” making it difficult to know what in the world he’s talking about.

    From there, Trump also endorsed torturing detainees with waterboarding. “I would bring it back, yes,” the Republican said. “I would bring it back. I think waterboarding is peanuts compared to what they’d do to us, what they’re doing to us, what they did to James Foley when they chopped off his head.”

    When the discussion turned to the issue of the government closing mosques, the candidate added, “You have very, very tough people that you’re dealing with. They only understand strength.” Asked for his criteria for closing American houses of worship, Trump eventually clarified, “Well, I don’t want to close mosques; I want to surveil mosques. I want mosques surveiled.” But not all of them, he said, just the “bad ones.”

  10. rikyrah says:

    How the Obama Administration Got 50% of Homeless Veterans Off the Streets in 4 Years
    updated November 21, 2015

    In 2010, the Obama administration unveiled Opening Doors, the federal government’s first strategic plan to put an end to homelessness nationwide. That vision is slowly reducing the homeless population of the country, which stands at over 500,000 people on any given night.

    At first glance, the immense progress that has been made isn’t immediately apparent. The Department of Housing and Urban Development released its annual homeless assessment report on Thursday, showing a tiny decrease in homelessness between 2014 and 2015. Overall homelessness fell just 2%, and chronic homelessness decreased by a mere 1%.

    But if you take a step back, a more promising picture emerges. Between 2007 and January of 2015, overall homelessness fell by 11%, and chronic homelessness declined by 31%.

  11. rikyrah says:

    December 1st is right around the corner:

    the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll.

    1. Donald Trump: 32% (unchanged since October)
    2. Ben Carson: 22% (unchanged)
    3. Marco Rubio: 11% (up one point)
    4. Ted Cruz: 8% (up two points)
    5. Jeb Bush: 6% (down one point)

    The latest national Fox News poll points in a very similar direction:

    1. Donald Trump: 28% (up two points since early November)
    2. Ben Carson: 18% (down five points)
    3. Ted Cruz: 14% (up three points)
    3. Marco Rubio: 14% (up three points)
    5. Jeb Bush: 5% (up one point)

  12. rikyrah says:

    OHIO: Muslim UC student says she was attacked because of her religion

    ‘I’m terrified to cross the street now,’ woman says
    UPDATED 12:20 AM EST Nov 23, 2015

    Haneen Jasim, 22, said after a night of studying at the Starbucks on University Square, as she crossed the street, a man started honking, cursing and calling her a terrorist.

    The University of Cincinnati pre-med student was wearing her hijab.

    “Very upsetting, very scary. I’m very, very nervous for me, my friends, my family,” said Jasim. “I’m terrified to cross the street now.”

    But worse, Jasim said the man drove toward her and didn’t stop. She said three people walking in front of her grabbed her onto the sidewalk before the car could hurt her.

    “Within an instant he tried to run over me. If it wasn’t for the three people in front of me, grabbing me onto the sidewalk, I would have been dead right there,” said Jasim.

    The man drove off, and Jasim said she didn’t catch a license plate, While shaken and terrified, she wasn’t sure what police could do.

  13. rikyrah says:

    Scandal-plagued Republican loses big in key statewide election
    11/23/15 08:00 AM—UPDATED 11/23/15 08:08 AM

    By Steve Benen

    It’s easy to forget that when Sen. David Vitter (R) announced his plans to run for governor in Louisiana, the conventional wisdom was that he was a shoo-in. The Pelican State has become a ruby-red Republican stronghold; and the far-right senator enjoyed the resources, the name-recognition, and the electoral experience he’d need to win.

    When Democratic officials reached out to New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu (D) about the race, he passed, at least in part because it looked like a year in which a Democrat simply had no chance of success in a state in which Republicans have won every statewide contest for nearly a decade.

    And yet, the scandal-plagued Republican got trounced, losing by more than 12 points.
    Democrat John Bel Edwards won the runoff election for Louisiana governor Saturday, defeating Republican David Vitter. […]

    Edwards, a West Point graduate and former Army Ranger, is the first Democrat to win a statewide race in Louisiana since 2008.
    With all precincts reporting, Edwards finished with 56.1% of the statewide vote, while Vitter received 43.9%. It’s the weakest showing for any Louisiana Republican gubernatorial nominee since 1991 – nearly a quarter of a century ago – when the GOP voters nominated a former Ku Klux Klan leader as their candidate.

    On a certain level, Vitter’s defeat may not seem like too much of a surprise given that all statewide polling showed him trailing Edwards, but the broader context is nevertheless important: the Times-Picayune described Edwards’ victory as “one of the biggest political upsets in the state’s history” in light of the expectations surrounding the race when it began earlier this year.

  14. rikyrah says:

    Hi Everyone.

    Requesting your prayers and positive thoughts for my sister who went into the hospital last night.

  15. rikyrah says:

    Good Morning, Everyone :)

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