Charlie Hill: Google doodle celebrates 71st birthday of American stand-up comedian, actor

Charlie Hill: Google doodle celebrates 71st birthday of American stand-up comedian, actor
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The Google Doodle for today honours Charlie Hill, the first Native American stand-up comedian to appear on national television, on his 71st birthday. One of the first comedians to publicly challenge Native stereotypes on major talk show programmes, Hill, who is of Oneida (Onyoteaká), Mohawk (Kanien’kehá:ka), and Cree (Néhinaw) ancestry, made his way up the comedy ranks. Alanah Astehtsi Otsistohkwa (Morningstar) Jewell, a Franco-First Nations artist from the Oneida Nation of the Thames, created the artwork for today’s Doodle.

On this day in 1951, Hill was born in Detroit, Michigan. At the age of 11, he relocated to the reservation of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin, where his father had grown up. The Hill family enjoyed watching comedies together on the weekends. Hill was particularly impressed by comic Dick Gregory, who in a way he had never seen before combined comedy and activism in favour of the Native American civil rights struggle. Hill was motivated to follow suit. He eventually enrolled at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and declared a speech and acting major after creating a vision for his future.

Hill travelled to Seattle and joined the Native American Theatre Ensemble after graduating from college. Later, she relocated to New York City and joined the La Mama Experimental Theater Club. He spent several years honing his craft before moving to Los Angeles to pursue his dream of becoming an actor and comedian.

He was a gifted musician who frequently included the harmonica into his performances, making him stand out among his contemporaries. He also read voraciously and spent a lot of time in the library learning. He had high expectations for himself and spent hours researching other comics to learn about their varying pacing, styles, and routine-building techniques. He frequently sought advice and criticism from other comedians about his own performances.

In the 1970s, Hill succeeded in landing a gig at Hollywood’s renowned Comedy Store, a TV network scouting ground. He quickly made friends with some of the top comics of the day there. Hill, who had established himself in the community by the age of 26, was given the once-in-a-lifetime chance to make his television debut on The Richard Pryor Show in 1977. For those Native Americans who were watching someone who looked like them on television for the first time, this was a crucial occasion as well. But Hill rejected when the show’s creators urged him to play a derogatory portrayal of a Native American. He believed that any professional opportunity was secondary to his responsibility to end the spread of racial stereotypes.

Following his debut, Hill gained a following on upscale comedy clubs and late-night talk shows. He later went on to perform stand-up all around the world and made appearances in movies and TV shows like Roseanne, Moesha, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and The Late Show with David Letterman.

The Screen Actors Guild presented Hill with the Ivy Bethune Tri-Union Diversity Award in 2009. For his outstanding work as a Native artist, he also received the Jennifer Easton Community Spirit Award.

Happy 71st birthday, Charlie Hill!

Topics #71st birthday #Actor #American stand-up comedian #Charlie Hill #Google Doodle

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