A comedic genius with a knack for storytelling, Flip Wilson was a trailblazer who made waves in the world of entertainment. With his infectious smile, larger-than-life personality, and impeccable comedic timing, Wilson became a household name during the 1960s and 1970s. By breaking through racial barriers and stereotypes, he paved the way for many comedians that followed. Today, we will take a trip down memory lane to explore the life and achievements of Flip Wilson, including his early years, rise to fame, and impressive net worth.
Net Worth: $6 Million
Date of Birth: Dec 8, 1933 – Nov 25, 1998
Place of Birth: Jersey City, New Jersey
Profession: Comedian, Actor, Screenwriter
Flip Wilson Early Life
Flip Wilson, born Clerow Wilson Jr., entered the world on December 8, 1933, in Jersey City, New Jersey. As the tenth of eighteen children, Wilson’s early years were far from easy. His mother abandoned the family, leaving Wilson’s father to care for the brood single-handedly. With financial strain and a lack of parental supervision, young Flip often found himself in trouble with the law.
In search of a fresh start, Wilson joined the United States Air Force at the age of 16. While in the service, he earned the nickname “Flip” – short for “flippant” – because of his playful attitude and humorous antics. It was during his time in the Air Force that Wilson discovered his passion for comedy. He started performing for his fellow service members, honing his skills and developing a unique style that would soon catapult him to stardom.
Flip Wilson Personal Life
Flip Wilson’s personal life was filled with love, laughter, and a few challenges. He was married twice, first to Lovenia Patricia (Peaches) Wilson in 1957, with whom he had four children: David, Tamara, Michelle, and Kevin. The couple eventually divorced in 1967. Later, Wilson married Cookie Mackenzie, but that union also ended in divorce.
Despite the ups and downs in his relationships, Wilson remained a dedicated father, actively participating in his children’s lives. He often credited his family as one of the primary reasons for his success, as they provided motivation and support throughout his career.
Flip Wilson Career
Flip Wilson’s career spanned several decades, and his unique comedic style and storytelling prowess earned him a well-deserved place in the annals of entertainment history. In the 1960s, Wilson’s stand-up comedy career took off, leading to appearances on popular TV shows, such as “The Tonight Show” and “The Ed Sullivan Show.”
His big break came in 1970 with the premiere of “The Flip Wilson Show,” which showcased his versatile talent for sketch comedy, impersonations, and engaging interviews. The show ran for four successful seasons, earning him widespread acclaim and two Emmy Awards.
Wilson’s career extended beyond television, as he transitioned into film, acting in movies like “Uptown Saturday Night” (1974) and “The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh” (1979). He also released several comedy albums, such as “Cowboys and Colored People” (1967) and “The Devil Made Me Buy This Dress” (1970), the latter of which won a Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album.
Even after “The Flip Wilson Show” ended, Wilson continued to work in the entertainment industry, making guest appearances on various television shows and occasionally performing stand-up comedy. However, by the 1990s, he chose to scale back his career to focus on his personal life and enjoy his well-earned success.
Rise to Fame
After leaving the military, Wilson took his talents to the stand-up comedy scene. In the early 1960s, he began performing at small clubs, where he quickly gained a reputation for his clever storytelling and spot-on impersonations. As his popularity grew, Wilson made appearances on popular TV shows like “The Tonight Show” and “The Ed Sullivan Show.”
In 1970, Wilson achieved one of his most significant career milestones: his own television show. “The Flip Wilson Show” was an instant hit, garnering high ratings and rave reviews. The variety show, which ran for four seasons, featured a mix of comedy sketches, celebrity guests, and musical performances. Wilson’s trademark characters, such as Geraldine Jones and Reverend Leroy, became pop culture icons.
Wilson’s success on television led to numerous other opportunities, including roles in films like “Uptown Saturday Night” (1974) and “The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh” (1979). His groundbreaking work in comedy earned him several prestigious awards, including two Golden Globe Awards and two Emmy Awards.
Flip Wilson Net Worth
As one of the most successful comedians of his time, Flip Wilson amassed a considerable fortune throughout his career. At the height of his fame, Wilson earned an impressive salary from his television show, lucrative endorsements, and other projects. By the time of his death in 1998, his net worth was estimated to be around $6 million, making him one of the wealthiest comedians of his era.
Wilson’s financial success allowed him to live a life of luxury, with homes in Malibu and Las Vegas, and a collection of classic cars. He also used his wealth to support various charitable causes, including funding scholarships for disadvantaged students and supporting civil rights organizations.