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"World's Funniest Man"
(November 12th 1874 - March 4th 1922)
This recording was made in New York City on December 2nd 1919 featuring Bert Williams vocals, with orchestral accompaniment.
*"Somebody" was composed by James F. Hanley and Bert Williams, with lyrics by Ballard MacDonald.
A wise Bert Williams takes a stand passing up a chance to play hero in favor of his own personal safety.
Still, it would be a 'wonderful opportunity' for somebody ("Somebody Else, Not Me").
Born in Nassau, in the Bahamas on November 12th 1874 Bert Williams immigrated to Florida with his parents as a child and later settled in Riverside, California.
While he was still in his teens he began performing in minstrel shows where he first encountered his future partner George Walker with whom he later formed the black vaudevillian comedy duo "Williams & Walker".
Through his satirical comedy Bert Williams did much to challenge racial boundaries and stereotypes on both stage and record over the course of his long career, becoming the first African American to play a lead on Broadway.
After developing pneumonia in the Winter of 1922, Williams' dedication to his craft prompted him to continue to perform nonetheless.
On February 27th 1922 Bert Williams collapsed during a performance of the comedy "Under the Bamboo Tree" in Detroit and swiftly returned to New York where he died on March 4th 1922.
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