Before Oprah, before Arsenio, there was Mr. SOUL!" On the heels of the Civil Rights Movement, one fearless black pioneer reconceived a Harlem Renaissance for a new era, ushering giants and rising stars of black American culture onto the national television stage. He was hip. He was smart. He was innovative, political, and gay. In his personal fight for social equality, this man ensured the Revolution would be televised. The man was Ellis Haizlip. The Revolution was SOUL! Written by
Before Oprah - before Arsenio - there was Mr. SOUL! Ellis Haizlip makes television broadcast history with SOUL!, America's first "black Tonight Show."
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Ellis Haizlip was born in Washington, DC on September 21, 1929, where he attended Dunbar High School. In Europe during the 1950s, Ellis Haizlip produced plays by his friend James Baldwin, and concert tours for Marlene Dietrich. SOUL! was conceived in 1968 as the first "black Tonight Show." Patti LaBelle & The Bluebelles appeared on the very first episode of SOUL! on Sept. 12, 1968. SOUL! was the creation of Ellis B. Haizlip, at the time the only African-American producer at WNET Channel 13, which was then called NET (National Educational Television). Haizlip, along with many emerging and musicians, hosted the show, which aired 130 episodes on Thursday nights out of New York from 1968 to 1973. Ellis Haizlip was instrumental in launching the careers of Anna Maria Horsford, Ashford & Simpson and many African American icons of the twentieth century. Arsenio Hall appeared on the SOUL! show on April 22, 1971. He was fifteen-years-old, performing magic tricks. In 1979, Ellis Haizlip produced Michael Jackson's 21st birthday party at Studio 54. December 6, 1988 was proclaimed Ellis Haizlip Day by the President of the Borough of Manhattan. In 1995, the Ellis B. Haizlip Papers were acquired by the National African American Museum Project, curated by Deb Willis for the Anacostia Community Museum Archives of the Smithsonian Institution. Ellis Haizlip's favorite quote: "It's been beautiful!' See more