The Leslie Uggams Variety Show (1969) #TBT

On Tuesday I mentioned that I thought Maya Rudolph was the first black woman (or biracial woman) to have her own variety show. I noted that I had done some quick research and didn’t find anyone else. Thankfully I have wonderfully knowledgeable friends (Professor Allyson Hobbs and Playwright Arthur W. French III) who pointed out that before Maya, there was the insanely talented Ms. Leslie Uggams.


The Leslie Uggams Show took over the time slot of the controversial–and cancelled–Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. This was the first variety show headed by an African-American since The Nat “King” Cole Show in the 1950s. The series boasted an integrated cast and crew which was, and still is, a rarity in network television.

A memorable feature of the series was a recurring sketch called “Sugar Hill” about a blue-collar family. Uggams and her construction worker husband lived with her mom, brother and hippie sister.

Tossed against Bonanza, the show didn’t stand much of a ratings chance. It aired for half of a season, before being replaced by The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour.”

A few video clips:

(1) Singing “Everybody Gets To Go To The Moon” on her variety show final episode:

Note: embedding the video was not an option (which is wack) but click on the link above and you will be delighted. She is gorgeous and sounds amazing.

(2) “Bob Crane and John Banner on Lesie Uggams Show

(3) “Sugar Hill

(4) “Leslie Uggams Show with Hogan’s Heroes

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