Unsung: Presents Best in Black: Trailblazers, May 5, 2024, TV One

Unsung

Unsung, the acclaimed documentary series, returns with a special presentation, “Best in Black: Trailblazers.” This installment, airing on TV One on Sunday May 5, shines a spotlight on influential TV pioneers who broke barriers and changed the entertainment industry.

Hosted by Gary Anthony Williams, the episode showcases a diverse range of trailblazers, including Diahann Carroll, Nat King Cole, Arsenio Hall, and RuPaul. These individuals not only left an indelible mark on television but also helped pave the way for future generations.

Nat King Cole

Nathaniel Adams Coles, known professionally as Nat King Cole, was an American singer, jazz pianist, and actor. Cole’s career spanned almost three decades, during which he recorded over 100 songs that became hits on the pop charts. He was the first African American performer to host a variety TV series in 1956, making him a trailblazer who helped change the game and the world.

Cole started his career as a jazz pianist in the late 1930s, forming The King Cole Trio, which became the top-selling group on Capitol Records in the 1940s. In 1950, he transitioned to become a solo singer, billed as Nat King Cole. Despite achieving mainstream success, Cole faced intense racial discrimination throughout his career. He was a member of his local NAACP branch and participated in the 1963 March on Washington. Cole regularly performed for civil rights organizations and hosted the first nationally broadcast television show hosted by an African American.

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Cole’s notable singles include “Unforgettable,” “Mona Lisa,” “The Christmas Song,” and “Straighten Up and Fly Right.” He received numerous accolades, including a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Cole’s music continues to endure, with his rendition of “The Christmas Song” becoming a holiday classic.

Diahann Carroll

Diahann Carroll was an American actress, singer, model, and activist. She was one of the last remaining stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood and broke down long-seated prejudices in casting. Carroll was the first black performer to have her own sitcom, “Julia,” which ran from 1968 to 1971, and the first to win an Emmy in the category of Best Actress in a Leading Role in a Comedy Series. She also won a Tony Award for her performance in the Broadway musical “No Strings,” written especially for her by Richard Rodgers, which highlighted an interracial romance without mentioning colour.

Carroll rose to prominence in some of the earliest major studio films to feature black casts, including “Carmen Jones” (1954) and “Porgy and Bess” (1959). She received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress for her title role in the romantic comedy-drama “Claudine” (1974). Carroll’s other notable film credits include “Paris Blues” (1961), “Eve’s Bayou” (1997), and “Grey’s Anatomy” (2006-2007).

Arsenio Hall

Arsenio Hall is an American comedian, actor, and talk show host. He hosted the late-night talk show “The Arsenio Hall Show” from 1989 to 1994 and again from 2013 to 2014. Hall has appeared in various films and TV shows, including “Coming to America” (1988) and its sequel, “Harlem Nights” (1989), and “Martial Law” (1998-2000). He has also hosted several other shows, such as “Star Search” and “The World’s Funniest Moments.”

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Hall is known for his support of gay rights and the fight against AIDS, using his fame to help combat worldwide prejudice against HIV/AIDS after Magic Johnson contracted the virus. He has received several accolades, including an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture and an American Comedy Award for Funniest Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture, both for “Coming to America.”

RuPaul

RuPaul Andre Charles is an American drag queen, television personality, actor, singer, producer, and writer. RuPaul has received numerous accolades, including 14 Primetime Emmy Awards, a Tony Award, and two Billboard Music Awards. He has been dubbed the “Queen of Drag” and is considered the most commercially successful drag queen in the United States.

RuPaul achieved international fame with the release of his debut single, “Supermodel (You Better Work),” in 1993. He became a spokesperson for MAC Cosmetics in 1994, raising money for the Mac AIDS Fund. RuPaul went on to create and host “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” which has produced sixteen seasons in the United States and inspired several international variants and spin-offs. RuPaul has also published four books and appeared in various films and television series.

Unsung: Presents Best in Black: Trailblazers airs Sunday May 5, 2024 at 9:00 PM on TV One.

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