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Cast: Marlin Hunt

as Beulah

 

"Somebody bawl fo' Beulah??"

 

Marlin Hunt
Marlin Hurt, a white actor, played the radio voice of 'Beulah'

On Jan 25, 1944, another new character is introduced to 79 Wistful Vista. Beulah, the new cook for the neighbor's stops by looking for her new employers. Her arrival at the McGee's door brings a load of unexpected laughter from the studio audience. A few weeks later, on March 14, the McGee's find the means to hire Beulah for one day a week to cook, clean, wash, and respond to Fibber's wise cracks. The McGee's have Beulah on Tuesdays, which happens to be the night that Fibber McGee and Molly are on the air. Again Beulah receives peals of laughter at her first words. The McGee's new domestic help is in her 30's, a little bit Man-Crazy, perhaps a little fond of her own cooking, taken with short skirts and high heels. She replies to calls with a cry of "Somebody bawl fo' Beulah??" and to McGee's witticisms with "Love that man!"

 

The laughter Beulah receives at her first appear is partly from her funny lines and delivery, but mostly it is the audience's surprise at seeing Beulah herself, as the black lady is played by white male actor, Marlin Hurt. Hurt introduced the character on the 1939 radio program Hometown Incorporated and reprised her in NBC's 1940 Show Boat series. In 1943 Beulah appeared on That's Life before moving on to Fibber McGee and Molly.

 

Beulah was popular enough to receive her own spin-off program in 1945, The Marlin Hunt and Beulah Show. Hurt passed away suddenly in 1946, and was replaced by another white actor, Bob Corley, and the show renamed The Beulah Show. Hatty McDanielThe character was finally played by a black actress, Hattie McDaniel, on Nov 24, 1947. McDaniel was paid $1000 weekly during her first season, the shows rating doubled, and was praised by the NAACP for being the first radio program to feature a black woman as the star. McDaniel continued the role until she became ill in 1952, when the role was taken by Lillian Randolph, who would be replaced the next season by her sister, Amanda Randolph.

 

Beulah was adapted to TV in 1950, on ABC, and lasted for three seasons. The TV program was criticized along with the TV version of Amos 'n' Andy by the NAACP for supporting stereotypical depictions of black characters, especially the "Mammy" domestic. Actress Lillian Randolph had not only played Beulah, but also Birdie Lee Coggins, the cook for The Great Gildersleeve and the voice of "Mammy Two Shoes" in the Tom and Jerry cartoons. Randolph replied to criticism in a 1946 edition of Ebony magazine, saying that the roles were not harmful to the image or opportunities of African-Americans. She felt that the roles themselves would not go away, but the ethnicity of those in them would change.


Jan 25, 1944 Broadcast "Dining Out" was the
first appearance of "Beaulah"
broadcast compliments of Old Time Radio

 





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