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Bert Williams
(American Entertainer)


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Bert Williams was the pre-eminent Black entertainer of his era and one of the most popular comedians for all audiences of his time. He was by far the best-selling black recording artist before 1920.

Williams was a key figure in the development of African-American music. In an age when racial inequality and stereotyping were an accepted part of life, he became the first black American to take a lead role on the Broadway stage, and did much to push back racial barriers during his career. Fellow vaudevillian W.C. Fields, who appeared in productions with Williams, described him as "the funniest man I ever saw—and the saddest man I ever knew."

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