If you follow me on Twitter, you already know that I’ve plunged back into the voluminous microfilmed papers of the NAACP. Lately, I’ve been exploring the organization’s records of its interactions with the entertainment industry in the 1950s and the first part of the 1960s. Yesterday, though, I ran across a small cache of 1970s-era material that documents the early years of the Image Awards put on, at that time, by the NAACP’s Beverly Hills-Hollywood branch. Here are some samples. (And if any readers have leads on other sources on the Image Awards’ history, please get in touch.)
Above is the cover of what looks like a souvenir program distributed at the sixth-annual awards, in 1972. It depicts Cicely Tyson, the “Honorary Chairman,” star of and Oscar nominee for that year’s Sounder. The inside of the program is chock-full of advertisements from film studios and record labels, suggesting that it didn’t take long for the industry to embrace this particular form of politicking for improved media representations.
Below is an excerpt from the script for the fifth-annual awards, in 1971, featuring an exchange between host Bobby Darrin and his “assistant,” the television actress Denise Nicholas. Judging by this, it also didn’t take long for the Image Awards to adopt an important feature of the awards show genre: awkward dialogue and strained topical humor.