Minstrel shows were the number one form of entertainment among planet Earth's English-speaking, caucasian cultures for over sixty years. Similar to Kabuki theater of Japan, minstrel shows were performed by a cast that, generally, wore minstrel makeup.
- More about Minstrel Shows
Comedy Duos and Other Specialty Acts
As the minstrel show form waned in popularity, specialty acts remained. Some became radio stars, such as Amos-N-Andy.
Blackface And The Invention Of The Movies
Since the days when Thomas Alva Edison, and D.W. Griffith were just about the only game in town, there have been black characters in motion pictures. The aforementioned motion picture producers, however, generally elected to have caucasoid actors perform in all cinematic roles - especially speaking parts.
Historical Representations and Reprisals of Minstrel Shows in Cinema
Depictions of, and nostalgia for, minstrel shows remained in movies until the early 1950s (Yes Sir, Mr. Bones). Depictions of minstrels, however, generally as a socio-political statement, as in Spike Lee's Bamboozled, or so-called social contextualization1, remained until the beginning of the twenty-first century.
Gag In The Bag
Right up through the 1960s soot-face, mud-face, or other such pseudo-minstrel makeup gags were a staple in motion picture comedies.
1. Hart's War (DVD). Bonus Materials; Deleted Scenes; Blackface Follies; Director's Commentary.