The Comedic Two Black Crows

Two Black Crows, also billed as The Black Crows and Moran and Mack was a blackface vaudeville show, created around 1917. Originally, the act was the creation of Charles Mack (Charles Sellers) and John Swor. The duo enjoyed limited success and Swor eventually left the act. He was replaced by George Moran (George Searcy) in the mid 1920’s. By 1928, the new duo became a popular act and they were awarded a weekly slot on the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) Blue network’s Majestic Hour radio program.

The Two Black Crows would go on to make a series of recordings and educational films, usually around the theme of birds. However, their partnership was fraught with intermittent internal legal disputes, almost from the beginning. At one point, George Moran contested Mack’s right to ownership of the act, but a judge ruled that Mack did in fact, own the act. In 1929, the duo entered into litigation over their legalized name changes and in 1933, Charles Mack sued his confidential secretary on the grounds she embezzled funds. Additionally, the act entered into a dispute with the Columbia recording company over advanced royalty payment.

In 1929, The Two Black Crows were featured in a Paramount film, Why Bring That Up? It was a success and the duo entered into a contract to appear in an upcoming film, The Freeze Out. This was to be the first of a series of six films. After completing the film, Mack, Moran, Producer Mack Sennet, the new Mrs. Mack and her 18-year-old stepdaughter were in a car heading back to the East Coast. Mrs. Mack was driving, when the car appeared to have a tire blowout outside Mesa, Arizona. The car swerved and finally came to a halt after rolling over several times. Everyone escaped serious injury, except Charles Mack. He had been pinned under the car and was close to death by the time rescue arrived. Charles Mack died after he was transported to the local hospital.

The death of Charles Mack signaled the death of the act. Others had tried to take the place of Charles Mack, without success. By today’s standards, the act is highly controversial, because of their use of the blackface. However, the content of the act did not include racial slurs; instead, it tended to imitate two crows living in a rural and backward environment. As a note, Two Black Crows first appeared as a title of a novel. The book examined the lives of two black men, who served in World War I.

Enjoy this sample of The Two Black Crows:

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