Williams and Walker (and Overton)
George W. Walker
"The Immortal Colored Team," African Americans George Walker and Bert Williams were part of the very successful 'Williams and Walker' comedy vaudeville act. They popularized the 'Cakewalk'
by including the dance in many Broadway type plays. Although Black, they performed in Black face makeup which was not unusual for the times. Their first success came when they billed themselves as 'The Two Real Coons.'
While still teenagers, Walker met Williams in the early 1890s in San Francisco, California. They decided to do something different in Minstrel shows and rebel against the stereotypical Minstrel
Coon. With this idea in hand they put together an act titled "The Two Real Coons" which sounded like a normal Minstrel Parody at the time, but was actually based on a real African-Amercan DANCE-COMEDY act. In this show, Mr. Walker portrayed a
real, intelligent, richly dressed, natural high strutting "Darky," ( In blackface) rather than the 'Black face stuttering fool' that was usually portrayed. Alltho today these are still
considered stereotypical of those times, they were not back then. Williams played a shiftless, shuffling 'darky' whose shoes pinched his feet.
They were instrumental in bringing Black face Minstrel players who were actually African American to a major white audience and
redefined the boundaries of legitimate Negro theater. W.C. Fields described Williams as " the funniest man I ever saw, and the saddest man I ever knew." One of Walker's trade marks was his pearl white teeth, when he would forget his lines, he
would stop, and at the same time open his mouth in this great big smile showing his teeth, frozen there, until someone cued him his lines, and then he continue as if nothing happened... the audience loved it.
George Walker married Aida
Reed Who was already an accomplished actress and dancer. After her husband became too ill to perform in 1909, Out of respect for
George, Aida often dressed up in his costumes and played George's role in 'Bandana Land,' which was the last production of the Williams
and Walker Company. Overton later danced with the Black Patti Troubadours and on Broadway with the Smart Set Company.
For more info on Bert
Williams go to his page Here!,
for more info on Aida Overton go to her page Here!.