Today is the birthday of Joel Chandler Harris (1848-1908), best known today as the writer (more like the collector, really) of the Uncle Remus stories, a collection of African American folk-tales gathered by Harris on a Georgia plantation during the days of slavery and published in nine books starting in 1880. Chandler was a major supporter of the rights and culture and interests of African Americans in his day, although he was criticized in later times (much as was his hero Harriet Beecher Stowe) for being paternalistic and exploitative, and for perpetuating stereotypes. The bulk of the damage to his reputation happened in the decades following Walt Disney’s 1946 cinematic adaptation of the tales, Song of the South. I used to see clips from the film from time to time on the weekly tv show The Wonderful World of Disney in the 1970s, but they’ve clamped down on this material in the decades since then. The film has never been released on home video in the U.S. But sometimes contraband does slip through the cracks:
For more on old time film history don’t miss my new book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc To find out more about the variety arts past and present, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.