Home Television Comedy Beulah

Beulah

1 9 5 0 – 1 9 5 3 (USA)

“Somebody bawl fo’ Beulah?”

While the premise of Beulah – about a black maid serving a white suburban family – probably didn’t thrill many civil rights activists, millions of viewers (many of them presumably black) enjoyed Beulah as she dispensed wisdom to the ever-bumbling Henderson family and to her friend Oriole.

Her employers, the Hendersons, were a caricature of a white middle class family, giving Beulah plenty to do as one crisis after another overtook the household – such as Mr Henderson burning the steaks at a picnic, falling into the water while fishing, or trying to stop his young son, Donnie, from running away from home.

The character of Beulah originated as a supporting role on radio’s Fibber McGee and Molly programme in 1944 and became one of the most popular comedy characters of the 40s and 50s in America.

When ABC brought the popular serial to television in 1950 the role was filled by veteran singer/actress Ethel Waters with Percy Harris as her shiftless boyfriend Bill and Butterfly McQueen as her girlfriend Oriole.

In April 1952 there was a major cast change. Hattie McDaniel (another Hollywood veteran) was hired to take over the title role, but she suddenly became ill and the part went to Louise Beavers after only a few episodes. At the same time, the entire Henderson family changed faces.

Beulah was still receiving high ratings in September 1953 when it went off the air because Miss Beavers decided to leave the series.

Beulah
Ethel Waters (1)
Hattie McDaniel (2)
Louise Beavers (3)
Harry Henderson

William Post Jr (1)
David Bruce (2)
Alice Henderson

Ginger Jones (1)
Jane Frazee (2)
Donnie Henderson

Clifford Sales (1)
Stuffy Singer (2)
Oriole

Butterfly McQueen (1)
Ruby Dandridge (2)
Bill Jackson

Percy (Bud) Harris (1)
Dooley Wilson (2)
Ernest Whitman (3)