Flip Wilson (December 8, 1933 - November 25, 1998) was an African-American comedian and actor. His flippant sense of humor earned him his nickname while he was serving in the United States Air Force.
From 1970 to 1974, he hosted the popular television program The Flip Wilson Show. Guest stars such as Ed Sullivan, Ray Charles, Raymond Burr, B.B. King, and many others appeared on his show. As one of the few black men to host his own network television program, Wilson was an influential cultural figure in the 1970s.
Wilson's stand-up comedy routine "Columbus," from his key album Cowboys and Colored People, earned him the good notices which led to his getting his own television show. Wilson re-tells the story of Christopher Columbus from a slightly 'urban' perspective, with Columbus finally convincing the Spanish monarchs to fund his voyage by noting that discovering America means that he can thus also discover Ray Charles. Hearing this, Queen Isabella, sounding not unlike Wilson's celebrated "Geraldine," says that "Chris" can have "all the money you want, Honey--You go find Ray Charles!!" When Columbus departs from the dock, Isabella is there, testifying to one and all that "Chris gonna find Ray Charles!!"
On his show, Wilson was known for creating characters such as "Reverend Leroy" (pastor of "The Church of What's Happenin' Now"), a 'dead-on' satire of not a few African-American pastors. The character that endures in viewers' memories was "Geraldine," with Wilson (in drag, with a falsetto voice) portraying a vivacious woman who often spoke of her boyfriend "Killer," and who coined such catch phrases as "The devil made me do it," "You Devil, you!", and "What you see is what you get!"â€”later borrowed by various technology workers to become the term "WYSIWYG".
He made many guest appearances on other TV comedies and variety shows, such as "Here's Lucy" starring Lucille Ball and the Dean Martin Show among others. Ed Sullivan gave Wilson numerous guest shots on his popular Sunday night show, and Wilson would single out Sullivan as providing his biggest career boost. Wilson acted in TV and theatrical movies including Uptown Saturday Night and The Fish that Saved Pittsburgh.
From 1985 to 1986, Wilson played the lead role in the sitcom Charlie & Co..
In a notable appearance on the Howard Stern radio show, Wilson revealed that he had an implant in his penis.
Wilson was born in Jersey City, New Jersey, and died of liver cancer in Malibu, California.