Clerow Wilson Jr. was born on 8 December 1933, in Jersey City, New Jersey USA, and was an actor and comedian, best known for his variety series entitled “The Flip Wilson Show”. He earned two Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe from the series, and all of his efforts helped put his net worth to where it was prior to his passing in 1998.
How rich was Flip Wilson? As of mid-2016, sources estimate a net worth that was at $6 million, mostly earned through a successful career in comedy encompassing film, television and stand-up. He was called “TV’s first black superstar” by Time magazine, and made appearances in a lot of popular shows. All of these ensured the position of his wealth.
Flip Wilson Net Worth $6 million
Due to poverty brought about by the Great Depression, Flip’s mother would abandon the family and his father would then put them to foster homes as he could not take care of them. Wilson moved around various foster homes and then went to reform school. At the age of 16, he joined the United States Air Force, lying about his true age, and would soon earn popularity due to his comedy skills, getting the nickname Flip from his friends which he would then use as his stage name. After being discharged in 1954, he worked as a bellhop for the Manor Plaza Hotel in San Francisco, and then found work at the hotel’s nightclub, slowly earning his popularity in stand-up.
In the 1960s, he started becoming a regular guest on TV in such as “The Ed Sullivan Show”, “The Tonight Show” and “Laugh-In”. He also released the comedy album entitled “The Devil Made Me Buy This Dress” and it won him a Grammy Award. After a routine entitled “Columbus” became popular, Flip started to get noticed in Hollywood. In the 1970s, he started his own “The Flip Wilson Show” airing on NBC, in which he performed comedy sketches and had many big names as guests including the Jackson Five, the Supremes, the Temptations and even basketball legend Bill Russell. His writer George Carlin also made appearances in the show. During this time, he popularized the lines “What you see is what you get” and “The devil made me do it”. The show would become very popular, getting consistently high ratings and viewership, and steadily increasing his net worth.
After the show’s run, Flip would then appear in various shows including “Here’s Lucy” and “The Dean Martin Show”, and in films such as “The Fish that Saved Pittsburgh and “Uptown Saturday Night”. In 1976, he became part of the television musical “Pinocchio” and then made a cameo appearance in “Living Single”.
During the late 70s, Wilson started to appear less in front of the camera and prioritize spending time with his family. However, in 1984 Wilson was the host of “People Are Funny “, a remake, and in 1985-86 he starred in “Charlie & Co”, a CBS sitcom. Flip’s last appearance was a cameo in the sitcom “Living Single” in late 1993.
For his personal life, he was married to Lavenia Dean from 1957 to 1967. In 1979, he married Tuanchai MacKenzie but they would also divorce in 1984. He was also an active lighter-than-air pilot, but stopped after he was diagnosed with liver cancer. He passed away in 1998 because of the disease.
Was sacked from a regular Seven-Up commercial spot in 1981, after being arrested for possession of a small amount of cocaine.
Frequently acted as master of ceremonies at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem.
Stand-up comic and teller of circuitous and outrageous stories, usually in jive slang. While serving in the Air Force, his penchant for crazy dialects led some of his fellow servicemen to think he was 'flipping out', and so the nickname 'Flip' evolved. His commanding officer encouraged him to take up studying and, by the time of his discharge in 1954, he embarked on a career as a professional comedian.
Escaped eight times from the reformatory where he grew up.
As a child, Wilson was put into a foster home, but he was unhappy there. He asked to be sent to the reformatory where his brother was. His request was granted.
Had four children with common-law wife Blonell Pitman.
He is the subject of a song by the World/Inferno Friendship Society, "Nosliw Pilf".
He also claimed (seriously) that one of the homes he lived in was haunted in some way.
He won a Grammy in 1970 for Best Comedy Recording for "The Devil Made Me Buy This Dress".
He got custody of his children in 1979 and quit show biz to devote more time to them.
One of his famous quotes from the Flip Wilson Show is "In the booth, in the back, in the corner, in the dark."