Kreskin’s Reflections on…
Flip –The Inside Story of TV’s First Black Super Star
By: Kevin Cook
I find it so heartwarming that finally someone has done a biography on Flip Wilson. He would be considered by many to be the first definitive black celebrity headliner celebrity in television and boy did he become the headliner. Certainly he preceded Bill Cosby and so many others. I am pleased to be mentioned in this new book as I got to know Flip initially when we both appeared on the Mike Douglas Show which was a national daytime talk and entertainment program. In fact one of the poignant moments in my career was at the end of one of the Douglas shows that he and I were on, he turned to the staff and Mike specifically and said “we are going to dinner I know you are taking me out for a late lunch but, I want Kreskin to join us.” It was at that point when we sat Mike, Flip and myself that it became clear that Wilson was interested in the nature of my work and of what I was able to do. He had later on introduced me to an elderly psychic woman whom he had great faith in through the years. This was when I had visited with him while on tour. I believe it was in the Chicago area.
The highlight and special memory that showed the depth of his character came when I was booked as a headline guest on his Thursday night weekly hour. I walked in the first day of rehearsal, after all the show was on during prime time and you had there the crew, the writers etc. But, I also hinted that I could not really “rehearse” my presentation, I could do a walk through but because of the legitimacy of my reading the thoughts of the audience I would simply explain what is going to be happening as they cover it on camera. Everyone seemed nod their head and understand and Flip was standing next to me during the discussion. I was given two special segments.. (1) where I was reading the thoughts of members of the audience and the other was a special test involving Flip Wilson himself. Suddenly everything stopped as Wilson walked away from me towards center stage and put his hands up and simply quietly said and in essence announced to his crew – writers and everyone .. he had made a decision, he was not going to do a monologue and the reason he explained was.. he did not want to precede my opening on the show with comedy. He did not to risk taking away from the essence of what I was doing. Yes, there was no discussion, there was no argument about such. I am sure the writers that prepared his opening understood this how he wanted it to be.. and so it was.
As is so clearly embraced in the new book Flip we see how in the latter days of his career Flip had become deeply troubled and built a wall between his personal life and his career. As we read the story and the unfolding of drugs and other factors your heart will break as the book is written with great poignancy. Yet, those of us who not only knew but also those who watched him can never forget in the background of this commentary, the outrageous crying of Geraldine his wild and crazy character along with the Reverend Leroy as well. And those who saw him in his series will recognize phrases that became part of American’s every day remarks. Phrases that were instantly recognized such as .. “the devil made me do it” and “what you see is what you get.”
Kevin Cook’s biography of Flip is a beautiful piece of show business history.
-The Amazing Kreskin