Tagged with "show"
Jazz Legend - Ethel Waters
Category: Voices of Jazz
Tags: Black Swan; Broadway; Columbia Records; Cotton Club; His Eye is on the Sparrow; On

Abstract: Born in Chester on October 31 1900, Ethel Waters was an African American singer and actress famous for her style of “blues” as well as for leading the way for black entertainers of her time. Her career peaked during the roaring 1920s and continued throughout the 1930s during which time she completed the majority of her 259 recordings. Waters is best known for her performance of “Stormy Weather” at the Cotton Club in New York City, as well as her role of Hagar in On with the Show. She is also known for writing two critically acclaimed autobiographies, His Eye is on the Sparrow, which focuses on her beginnings and achievements as an entertainer, and To Me It’s Wonderful, which describes her participation in the Billy Graham Crusades that she toured with in her later years. Waters died in 1977 of heart disease.

Biography:

Ethel Waters was born the daughter of Louise Howard, on October 31 1900, at her great-aunt Ida’s home in Chester, Pennsylvania. Waters was a product of rape. At the age of 13, Waters’ mother was raped by John Waters (pianist). Waters said about her childhood, “I never was a child. I never was coddled, or liked, or understood by my family. I never felt I belonged. I was always an outsider.” Waters’ never had a relationship with her mother. Louise Howard moved away when Waters was a child, leaving her to the care of her grandmother, Sally Anderson. However, Waters’ spent most of her time with her aunts, Vi and Ching, because her grandmother worked long hours.

Though both alcoholic with terrible lifestyles, Waters’ aunts loved to sing. Waters wrote in her autobiography, Eye is on the Sparrow: “Vi had a sweet, soft voice. Ching’s was bell-like and resonant…One of the first pieces I remember Vi singing was ‘I Don’t Want to Play in Your Yard.’ Ching’s favorites were ‘There’ll Come a Time’ and ‘Volunteer Organist.’ But in the beginning it was always the story in the song that enchanted me.” These last few words explain Waters’ style of singing more than anything else. Waters was always able to tell a story with her music, though she would not figure this out until later in life.

As a young girl, Waters was exposed to a lot of negative things. She befriended a prostitute and witnessed the sexual relationships of her older sisters (they all shared a room). She grew up fast. Though she was exposed to these things, she didn’t allow them to influence her. Waters’ first steady job was at the Harrod Apartments in Philadelphia. She was a maid—a very humble job compared to what she would soon land. On October 17 1917, Waters’ seventeenth birthday, her friends convinced her to perform at a Halloween party. She sang a blues ballad which the crowd and a black vaudeville team (a group who would perform variety shows), Braxton and Nugent, loved. They approached her after the show and offered her $10 a week to join their team. Waters then began her steady ascent to fame.

Her first performance was in 1917 at the Lincoln Theater in Baltimore. She sang solos and was known as Sweet Mama Stringbean because, “I was so scrawny and tall.” Though the crowd was tough, and often louder than the performances, Waters’ voice would always capture the audience. One night Waters decided to add a new song to her show. She took the song, “St. Louis Blues” and sang it more slowly, with more pathos. She says, “You could have heard a pin drop in that rough, rowdy audience.” Her version of the song is now a classic and known to be the greatest blues song every written.

However, she was not involved with the most honest people. Waters soon found out that Braxton and Nugent were pocketing extra money from her act. At the time two other females were performing with Braxton and Nugent, as the Hill Sisters. After finding out about the scam Waters immediately left and the Hill Sisters followed. They decided to travel together as their own act.

They performed the same songs they did in Baltimore. One of them was Waters’ famous song, “St. Louis Blues.” They moved from theater to theater, performing for a different crowd every time. Though the Hill Sisters had good times, the trio did not last. The original Hill Sisters, Jo and Maggie, were jealous. There was backstage rivalry which stemmed from Waters’ success. Though they were a trio, Waters soon felt singled out and unwanted.

The trio turned into a duo, with just Jo and Ethel Waters. Though they traveled and sang together, Waters often took the spotlight. Once, Waters landed a job at 91 Decauter Street in Atlanta. That same night, Bessie Smith was on the bill. Smith had a lot of say with the managers, and forbid Waters to sing any blues while Smith was there. However, during Waters’ performance, the crowd began to shout, “Blues! Blues! Blues! Come on, Stringbean, we want your blues!” The manager was forced to revoke the ban placed on Waters. Bessie Smith personally gave Waters permission to sing “St. Louis Blues” and said to Waters after the show, “Come here long goody. You ain’t so bad. It’s only that I never dreamed that anyone would be able to do this to me in my own territory and with my own people. And you know damn well that you can’t sing worth a--” Waters had come into her own. She was a one-woman act.

“I still had no feelings of having roots. I was still alone and an outcast,” Waters says about her time with the Hill Sisters. After being injured in a car accident in 1918, Waters went back to Philadelphia. She placed her singing career on hold and began washing dishes at an automat. She did this until Joe Bright, a black actor-producer from New York, persuaded her to go back on stage. Wearily, in 1919, Waters accepted Bright’s offer and performed at Lincoln Theater in Harlem. It was during her second week at Lincoln Theater that her acquaintance, Alice Ramsey—a dancer—invited her to sing at Edmund’s Cellar. Waters began working there for $2 a night.

Her salary came from the audience in the form of tips. There were no set hours for work. Waters said, “There was no set closing time…I used to work from nine until unconscious.” Again, she changed her style of singing. Andrea Barnett writes in All-Night Party, “A pianist, Lou Henley, challenged Ethel to expand her repertoire, urging her to tackle more complex, ‘cultural’ numbers. But to Ethel’s surprise, she found that she could characterize and act out the songs just as she did with her blues. Audiences were enthusiastic.” More and more people would come to Edmond’s Cellar to watch Waters perform and tips became so good that musicians all around Harlem began looking for a chance to perform there. Waters’ finally began making a name for herself. Waters even went to Chicago at the request of Al Capone, who wanted her to sing at his bar. In 1929, with James P. Johnson as her accompanist, Ethel was singing songs like, “Am I Blue?” in On with the Show, where she was now making $1250 per week!

In All-Night Party, Andrea Barnet says, “Ethel’s versatility and inventiveness were beginning to serve her well. She had the sexual swagger of singers like Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey, yet her voice was softer. Ethel’s style was crisp and urbane, more northern.” She soon was noticed by Black Swan Records. She began recording with them and released a record with two sides. “Oh Daddy” and “Down Home Blues” were on that record, which sold 500, 000 copies in 6 months. Waters had recorded with pianist, Fletcher Henderson. The duo was so successful that they toured through the South and became the first black musicians to broadcast on the radio. Ethel continued to perform with various artists: female pianist, Pearl Wright, dancer, Ethel Williams (suspected to be her lover). She was living a lavish lifestyle, but her music never reflected her extravagant lifestyle. Instead, they reflected a more negative side of Waters’ adult life.

Ethel Waters held a few rocky relationships in her lifetime. She once dated a drug addict and thief. She married and divorced three times, though she rarely talks about two of her marriages. There are also rumors that Waters was bisexual. Though she tried to keep this private, she was often seen fighting in public with whichever girlfriend she was with at the time. The nature of her relationships was often reflected in her music; her songs are full of heartbreak. There was also another aspect of Waters music that must be noted. According to Barnet, “…besides the sweeter quality of her voice, she was just as likely to take a more droll, comedic view of male-female relations, making mischievous sport of both sexes.” Though singing was a great part of Waters career, she also became an actress.

Waters acted in a number of films and Broadway plays. In Waters’ opinion, her greatest role was that of Hagar in Mamba’s Daughters on Broadway in 1939 where she gave 17 curtain calls on opening night. In Mamba’s Daughters Waters plays a woman sent to exile after committing a minor crime. Consequently, she has to leave her daughter, Lissa, to the care of her mother, Mamba. Years later, Hagar must make one more sacrifice for her daughter, who is on her way to fame and fortune. She felt that Hagar paralleled her own mother’s life, and she put all of the emotion that she had into each performance. She was also the first black woman to ever star in a dramatic play on Broadway. In 1950, she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in Pinky. In the movie, she plays the grandmother of Pinky, a young light-skinned woman, who passes for white while attending school in the North. In that same year she won the New York Drama Critics Award for her role in the play, The Member of the Wedding. Her co-star was the actress Julie Harris. Waters continued to land a number of roles in films and plays. She performed in Cairo (1942), Cabin in the Sky (1943), The Member of the Wedding (1952) and was even a guest on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” in 1972.

Ethel Waters also wrote two autobiographies. In 1951, His Eye is on the Sparrow was published. Her second autobiography, To Me it’s Wonderful, was published in 1977.

Ethel Waters’ career began to slow as the blues began to fade out of pop culture, but she was able to continue her career largely because of her ability to identify with the characters she played and the songs that she sang. Waters died on September 2, 1977, in Chatsworth, California. She will always be remembered for her incredible vocal and theatrical performances, and for being a woman who broke racial boundaries by playing in black and white vaudeville companies and earning equal praise in both.

Decades after her death, three of Waters’ singles were inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame: “Dinah” in 1998 for Traditional Pop, “Stormy Weather” in 2003 for Jazz, and “Am I Blue?” in 2007 for Traditional Pop.

Works:

  • His Eye Is on the Sparrow. (with Charles Samuels) New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1951.
  • To Me It’s Wonderful. New York: Harper & Row Publishers, Inc., 1972.

Sources:

  • Barnet, Andrea. All-Night Party: The Women of Bohemian Greenwich Village and Harlem 1913-1930. New York, New York: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2004.
  • Carr, Larry. “Ethel Waters.” Jazzateria.com. 2004. 15 Oct. 2004. .
  • Gourse, Leslie. Sophisticated Ladies. New York, New York: The Penguin Group, 2007.
  • Marks, Peter. “A Familiar Tale of Sacrifice, traversing Today and ’39.” New York Times 25 Feb. 1998 .

This biography was written by Julia J. Spiering, Fall 2004; revised and extended by Joanne A. Gedeon, Spring 2010.

 

This Week's celebrity pick is the gorgeous, Phylicia Rashād
Category: Celebrity Pick
Tags: celebrity pick phylicia rashad cosby show word life production new quality entertainment

Phylicia Rashād (born Phylicia Ayers-Allen; June 19, 1948) is an American Tony Award-winning actress, singer and stage director, best known for her role as Clair Huxtable on the long-running NBC sitcom The Cosby Show. She was nominated for an Emmy Award for this part in 1985 and 1986.

In 2004, Rashād became the first African-American actress to win the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play, which she won for her role in the revival of A Raisin in the Sun. She resumed the role in the 2008 television adaptation of A Raisin in the Sun, which earned her the 2009 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special. Rashād was dubbed "The Mother" of the African-American community at the 42nd NAACP Image Awards.

Rashād was born in Houston, Texas. Her mother, Vivian Ayers, was a Pulitzer-prize nominated artist, poet, playwright, scholar, and publisher. Her father, Andrew Arthur Allen (d. 1984), was an orthodontist.[3][4] Rashād's siblings are jazz-musician brother Tex (Andrew Arthur Allen, Jr., born 1945), sister Debbie Allen (1950), an actress, choreographer, and director, and brother Hugh Allen (a real estate banker in North Carolina). While Rashād was growing up, her family moved to Mexico, and as a result, Rashād speaks Spanish fluently.

Rashād studied at Howard University, graduating magna cum laude in 1970 with a Bachelor's degree in Fine Arts. She is also a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. She was initiated into the Alpha chapter during her tenure at Howard University.

Rashād first became notable on the stage with a string of Broadway credits, including Deena Jones in Dreamgirls (she was Sheryl Lee Ralph's understudy until leaving the show in 1982 after being passed over as Ralph's full-time replacement) and playing a Munchkin in The Wiz for three and a half years. In 1978, she released the album Josephine Superstar, a disco Concept album telling the life story of Josephine Baker. The album was mainly written and produced by Jacques Morali and Rashād's second husband Victor Willis, original lead singer and lyricist of the Village People. She met Willis while they were both cast in The Wiz.

Other Broadway credits include August: Osage County, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Gem of the Ocean, Raisin in the Sun (2004 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play/Drama Desk Award), Blue, Jelly's Last Jam, Into the Woods, and Ain't Supposed To Die A Natural Death. Off-Broadway credits include Lincoln Center’s productions of Cymbeline and Bernarda Alba (musical); Helen, The Story and Everybody's Ruby at the Public Theater; The Negro Ensemble Company productions of Puppet Play, Zooman and the Sign, Sons and Fathers of Sons, In an Upstate Motel, Weep Not For Me, and The Great Mac Daddy; Lincoln Center's production of Ed Bullins' The Duplex; and The Sirens at the Manhattan Theatre Club. In regional theatre, she performed as Euripedes' Medea and in Blues for an Alabama Sky at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia. Other regional theatres at which she has performed are the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. and the Huntington Theatre in Boston.

Rashad was the first African-American actress to win the Best Actress (Play) Tony Award, which she won for her 2004 performance as Lena Younger in a revival of the play A Raisin in the Sun by playwright Lorraine Hansberry. She was nominated for the same award the following year, for Gem of the Ocean. Several Black women have won in the Best Actress (Musical) category, including the late Virginia Capers, who won in 1973 for her portrayal of Lena in the musical adaptation of Hansberry's play, entitled "Raisin.". Rashad also won the 2004 Drama Desk award for Best Actress in a play for A Raisin in the Sun by tying (split award) with Viola Davis for the play "Intimate Apparel".

In 2007, Rashād made her directorial debut with the Seattle Repertory Theatre’s production of August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean.[6] More recently, in early 2014 Rashād directed a revival of Fences, also by Wilson, at the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, NJ, which ran to generally positive reviews, and continued an ongoing focus on Wilson's work.

Rashād received a career boost when she joined the cast of the ABC soap opera One Life to Live to play publicist Courtney Wright in 1983. She is best known for another television role, that of attorney Clair Huxtable on the NBC sitcom The Cosby Show. The show, which ran from 1984 to 1992, starred Bill Cosby as obstetrician Cliff Huxtable, and focused on their life with their five children.

When Cosby returned to TV comedy in 1996 with CBS's Cosby, he called on Rashād to play Ruth Lucas, his character's wife. The pilot episode had been shot with Telma Hopkins, but Cosby then fired the executive producer and replaced Hopkins with Rashād. The sitcom ran from 1996 to 2000. That year, Cosby asked Rashād to work on his animated television series Little Bill, in which the actress voiced Bill's mother, Brenda, until the show's end in 2002. She also played a role in the pre-show of the "Dinosaur" ride at Walt Disney World's Animal Kingdom theme park as Dr. Helen Marsh, the head of the Dino Institute.

She played Kill Moves' affluent mother on Everybody Hates Chris on Sunday, December 9, 2007. In 2007 she appeared as Winnie Guster in the Psych episode Gus's Dad May Have Killed an Old Guy. She returned to the role in 2008, in the episode Christmas Joy.

In February 2008, she appeared in the television adaptation of A Raisin in the Sun. She starred on Broadway as Big Mama in an all-African American production of Tennessee Williams's Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Cat on a Hot Tin Roof directed by her sister Debbie Allen. She appeared alongside stage veterans James Earl Jones (Big Daddy) and Anika Noni Rose (Maggie), as well as film actor Terrence Howard, who made his Broadway debut as Brick. She next appeared as Violet Weston, the drug-addicted matriarch of Tracy Lett's award-winning play, August: Osage County at the Music Box Theatre.

In November 2010, Rashād starred in the Tyler Perry film For Colored Girls, based on the play For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf by Ntozake Shange. In 2012 she starred in another Tyler Perry movie Good Deeds. In that same year, Rashād played Clairee Belcher in the remake of Steel Magnolias (the role originated by Olympia Dukakis). This version has an all African American cast.

Personal life

Rashād's first marriage, in 1972, was to dentist William Lancelot Bowles, Jr. They had one son, William Lancelot Bowles III, who was born the following year. The marriage ended in 1975. Rashād then married Victor Willis (original lead singer of the Village People, whom she met during the run of The Wiz) in 1978. Their divorce was finalized in 1982.

She married former NFL wide receiver and sportscaster Ahmad Rashād on December 14, 1985. It was a third marriage for both of them and she took his last name. They were married after he proposed to her during a pregame show for a nationally televised Thanksgiving Day football game between the New York Jets and the Detroit Lions on November 28, 1985. Their daughter, Condola Phyleia Rashād,[12] was born on December 11, 1986 in New York. The couple divorced in early 2001.

Source: Wikipedia

This Week's Celebrity pick is the beautiful comedian, actress, & late night talk show host, "Mo'Nique
Category: Celebrity Pick
Tags: mo'nique actree talk show host actress comedian celebrity pick word life production feature blog

Mo'Nique was born on December 11, 1967 in Baltimore,

Maryland. She started in stand-up comedy on a dare and was soon appearing on It's Showtime at the Apollo and Def Comedy Jam. She made appearances on Moesha and The Bernie Mac Show before landing a starring role on The Parkers. In 2009, Mo'Nique won an Academy Award for her performance in Precious, a film based on the novel Push by Sapphire.

Aspiring Comedian

Comedian, actress. Born Monique Imes on December 11, 1967, in Baltimore, Maryland. One of three children born to Steven Imes Jr. and his wife Alice, Mo'Nique has parlayed an extremely successful stand-up profession into a career that's seen her become an actress, author, clothing designer, and even the host of her own late night talk show.

Mo'Nique got her start as a young college student when, on a dare from her brother Steven, she took the stage one night during an open mic session at the Comedy Factory Outlet in Baltimore. The audience loved her, and the club owners offered her the chance to host her own show at a local beauty parlor the following week for $25.

Soon, Mo'Nique was taking the stage every chance she could. When she was offered the chance by her employer to relocate to Atlanta, Mo'Nique jumped at it, believing she'd catch more breaks and find more opportunities in the South to pursue her comedy.

Big Break

It proved to be a smart move. Just two years after that initial dare from her brother, Mo'Nique had earned enough stand-up work that she could pursue comedy full-time. Known for her less-than-svelte size, Mo'Nique celebrated her girth and her womanhood in a way comedy fans adored. Soon, she was on the music circuit, her brand of comedy tapped to open up for musicians like Keith Sweat and Bobby Brown.

In 1989, Mo'Nique got her first significant break when she was selected to appear on It's Showtime at the Apollo. Other big-ticket appearances soon followed, including Russell Simmons' Def Comedy Jam and BET's Comic View.

After a handful of appearances on the UPN comedy Moesha, and several other television spots, including an appearance on The Bernie Mac Show, Mo'Nique was launched full-time in the living rooms of American homes in 1999 with a starring role in the UPN sitcom, The Parkers.

Mainstream Success

In the show, the comedian played the rather outlandish mother, Nikki Parker, who attends college with her daughter and can't quite straighten out her love life. The comedy ran five seasons, and garnered Mo'Nique three NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series.

Even while keeping up with the rigors of a full-time television series, Mo'Nique made sure her stand-up career didn't suffer.

"Stand-up keeps you on your toes because it's instant," she told reporters. "With TV and movies you have to wait for the numbers to come in to see what happened at the box office. With stand-up, it's right there, that night, in your face."

To help stay atop her game, Mo'Nique headlined the 2001 smash hit Queens of Comedy, the successful female version of The Original Kings of Comedy tour. The album produced from those Queens shows, which also featured Adele Givens, Laura Hayes, and Sommore, earned a 2002 Grammy nomination for Best Spoken Comedy Album. From there, Mo'Nique returned to the Apollo, this time as host of the program, It's Showtime at the Apollo, the first female comedian to ever hold that title.

In 2003, Mo'Nique added author to her expanding resume when she penned the riotous Skinny Women Are Evil: Notes of a Big Girl in a Small-Minded World. A second title, Skinny Cooks Can't Be Trusted was published in 2006.

Diverse Roles

Despite her lack of any kind of formal training, Mo'Nique's acting started landing her movie work around the same time The Parkers run was coming to a close. A year before the sitcom's cancellation, the actress was cast alongside Danny Glover and Whoopi Goldberg in the Showtime film, Good Fences (2003).

Her comedy was also the focus of smaller roles in Soul Plane (2004) and Hair Show (2004). In addition she co-starred with Vivica A. Fox in Two Can Play That Game(2001), which earned her an NAACP Image Award Nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture.

In 2005, Mo'Nique returned to television to host the Oxygen Network's Mo'Nique's F.A.T. Chance, a beauty contest featuring all plus-sized women. In 2006, the comedian's extra pounds were at the center of Phat Girlz, a film about an overweight fashion designer in search of love.

That same year, Mo'Nique stepped into her meatiest role yet in Shadowboxer (2006). Starring Helen Mirren and Cuba Gooding Jr., and directed by Lee Daniels, the film cast the actress as a drug-ravaged woman, a role that turned the heads of critics and audiences who had grown accustomed to Mo'Nique's loud-and-proud brand of comedy.

Precious

But not everyone was surprised by the performance. Least of all the film's director, who had first met Mo'Nique a few years before and raved to her about her acting abilities. So, it was no surprise he tapped the actress again for his next project, Precious (2009), a film based on the novel Push by Sapphire. Daniels cast Mo'Nique as Mary Jones, an angry and abusive mother.

It was an ugly role, but one Mo'Nique knew how to play. As a child, she herself had been molested by her oldest brother, Gerald, and she says she drew on that experience to play the part.

"He was a monster to me so when [Lee] said 'action' I became a monster," she said on The Ellen Show.

It's a performance, too, that's proven to be cathartic for Mo'Nique, helping her deal with her brother, whom she has not spoken to in years. "It allowed me not to hate him," she said. "It allowed me not to be angry. It allowed me not to be the victim anymore." It also delivered plenty of Oscar buzz, from critics and audiences who couldn't get enough of the comedian's transformation and performance, which resulted in the actresses first Academy Award win. And it's put her on a path for other, meatier roles. Already on tap is another Lee Daniels production, a biopic about Hattie McDaniel, the first African-American to win an Oscar for her role in Gone with the Wind (1939).

?Recent Work

That's not to suggest, however, that Mo'Nique has turned her back on the laughs. BET forked over the most money it ever has to a performer for her to host her own late night talk show, The Mo'Nique Show, which debuted in the fall of 2009. And there's sure to be more stand-up and more comedy for her in the future.

"I'm gonna play this game the way I want to," she has said. "It might be serious, it might be a comedy, it might be a dramedy, it might be variety, it might be a talk show, whatever. There's no box."

But there is a little less of her. After tipping the scales at 262 pounds, Mo'Nique cut out red meat and started working out when her husband, Sidney Hicks, asked her to place more attention on her health. By the time Precious had debuted in November 2009, she'd lost more than 40 pounds.

Mo'Nique and Sydney are the parents of twin boys. The comedian and actress also has a son from a previous marriage.

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This week's celebrity pick is the fabulous late night talk show host, Arsenio Hall
Category: Celebrity Pick
Tags: arsenio hall late night talk show host word life production celebrity pick feature blog

Arsenio Hall is an American actor, comedian and former talk show host. In Chicago, he tried out stand-up comedy and was soon "discovered," later opening for Aretha Franklin and others. He appeared in the 1980s film Coming to America and Harlem Nights, but he is best known as the first black late-night talk show host. His groundbreaking talk show The Arsenio Hall Show ran from 1989-1994. He has starred in a variety of other TV projects and is slated to host his own late-night show once again in Fall 2013.

Early Career

Actor, comedian and television talk show host Arsenio Hall was born in Cleveland, Ohio on February 12, 1956. He is the son of Fred, a preacher, and his wife, Anne. Hall's parents separated when he was 6 years old. At age 7, he became interested in magic, and began performing at birthday parties, weddings and bar mitzvahs.

Hall is best known for his groundbreaking talk show The Arsenio Hall Show, which ran from 1989-94. As the first black late-night talk show host, one of Hall's distinctions is that he provided what was the first, and for a time, only, showcase for hardcore rap and hip-hop artists, and for controversial guests like Louis Farrakhan, the Nation of Islam leader.

He attended Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, majoring in communications, though he transferred and graduated from Kent State University in Kent, Ohio. Though he started out in advertising, in 1979 he moved to Chicago, switched to stand-up comedy and was "discovered" at a comedy club by singer Nancy Wilson. He got jobs opening for musicians such as Aretha Franklin, Tom Jones, Patti Labelle, Wayne Newton, and Tina Turner.

Throughout the ‘80s, Hall appeared on various comedy and musical shows, including Solid Gold, Motown Revue and The New Love American Style, and hosted a short-lived show called The Half-Hour Comedy Hour. He made his feature film debut in Amazon Women on the Moon in 1987. Hall also appeared in two films with friend Eddie Murphy: the box-office hit Coming to America (1988) and Harlem Nights (1989).

'The Arsenio Hall Show'

Back in 1987, however, Hall had tapped into what would be his most successful professional endeavor. He took over hosting duties from Joan Rivers on The Late Show. His easygoing, playful and somewhat risqué banter was a hit with audiences. Based on that success, he was approached to host his own syndicated late-night talk show. Two years later, The Arsenio Hall Show was born. Hall’s deal included hosting and executive producing duties on the show, which was produced by Paramount and his own company, Arsenio Hall Productions. Starting a half-hour earlier than Johnny Carson’s late-night staple The Tonight Show in many regions, and booking younger, newer TV and musical artists than his established rival, Hall drew a young, hip audience. The show became famous for its Dog Pound "Woof! Woof!" (with pumping fist) chant and featured a range of guests that included Paula Abdul, En Vogue, Bill Clinton, Diana Ross and many more.

When Carson retired in 1992 and Jay Leno was chosen as his successor over David Letterman (whose show followed Carson’s), Letterman left NBC for CBS and started his own Late Show against Leno's. Leno started drawing young viewers away from Hall, and Letterman, who had a longstanding young audience, also cut into Hall’s audience. Though the ratings dropped, Hall said in a later interview that the show was still profitable and that he chose to walk away to explore other creative arenas and take time for himself. The Arsenio Hall Show aired its final episode May 27, 1994.

Other Film and TV Ventures

Hall received two NAACP Image awards in 1991, a Key of Life Award for his work as "a crusader in the fight of human rights," and another for his show. In 1993 he executive-produced the feature film Bopha!, a story about a family during apartheid, starring Danny Glover, Alfre Woodward and Malcolm McDowell and directed by Morgan Freeman.

After three years away from the public eye, Hall returned to television in 1997 with his short-lived sitcom Arsenio, co-starring Vivica A. Fox. In 1998-99, he made regular appearances on the CBS series Martial Law.

Hall hosted a revival of the televised talent show Star Search from 2003 to 2004. He also appeared as guest co-host on such shows as Access Hollywood Live and Piers Morgan Tonight. In 2012, Hall showed the world just how business-savvy he is on the celebrity edition of Donald Trump's hit reality competition The Apprentice. He beat out the likes of Victoria Gotti, rocker Dee Snider and American Idol singer Clay Aiken to win the top prize for his charity: the Magic Johnson Foundation.

New Show

Hall made a comeback to television in the fall of 2013 with a new syndicated talk show backed by CBS Television and the Tribune Co. Upon realizing he missed his previous work and receiving encouragement from his teen son, he decided to return to the format, with the idea of there being a cross-generational audience.

"Maybe there is some nostalgia: 'I used to watch Arsenio when I was in college,'" Hall said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. "But we're doing a show for people, who have moved on, and now they can sit around with their kid who can stay up late, and there will be a lot of stuff they can both dig."

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