Flip Wilson, who became the very first successful black host of a television variety show with his turns as sassy Geraldine, the Rev. Leroy and also other personalities he mined because that ethnic humor, passed away yesterday. He was 64.

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Wilson passed away of liver cancer, claimed Angie Hill, the comedian"s assistant. He had undergone surgical treatment Oct. 2 at St. John"s Hospital and Health center in Santa Monica, Calif., for a malignant tumor that was close come his liver.

"The upper and lower reversal Wilson Show," which aired on NBC from 1970 to 1974, describe his talents and brought a rare black voice to television.

Wilson reveled in such personalities as Leroy, pastor of the "Church that What"s continue Now." Wilson said Leroy was based upon a preacher the listened to as a child.

"I was very impressed v him, and also I was constantly amazed that he wasn"t fine educated," he told the brand-new York everyday News in 1971.

Geraldine, v Wilson in wig, high heels and a miniskirt, was maybe his most well known character. She expressions -- "The devil made me perform it!" and "What you see is what friend get!" -- ended up being catch phrases.

"The mystery of my success with Geraldine is that she"s not a put-down the women," Wilson once said. "She"s smart, she"s trustful, she"s loyal, she"s sassy. Most drag impersonations are a drag. However women have the right to like Geraldine, men deserve to like Geraldine, everyone deserve to like Geraldine."

Clerow Wilson to be born into poverty on Dec. 8, 1933, in Jersey City and raised in foster homes, quitting institution at 16. The served four years in the air Force and also earned the nickname "Flip" for his irreverent humor as soon as he began entertaining the troops.

Discharged in 1954, Wilson spent much more than a decade working at weird jobs and also developing a comedy act.

Wilson do his TV debut on "The Tonight present Starring Johnny Carson" in 1965. A range special in 1968 resulted in his very own series, i beg your pardon earned him an Emmy for performing and also one for creating in 1971. It take it competition from a new drama, "The Waltons," to knock Wilson"s show off the air. The comedian to be divorced about the time his display ended, and also he won custody of his children.

"I want to devote the exact same amount of time to my youngsters as I had to the show," he told the associated Press in 1985.

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He finished his absence from TV v guest appearances and also then v two series: the 1984 quiz present "People are Funny," on which he to be host, and the 1985 CBS sitcom "Charlie & Company," i beg your pardon co-starred singer Gladys Knight. Both mirrors were short-lived.