High School Yearbook Photo

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Lightnin' in the Jungle!

In the early 1950s...

Nick Stewart as Lightnin' on Amos 'n' Andy

African-American character actor
Nick Stewart, using the stage name
Nick O'Demus, played the role of
Lightnin' on the controversial TV
series The Amos 'n Andy Show.  

AT 12:15 MARK!

Until his death in 2000 at age 90,
Stewart was the last surviving cast
member of Amos 'n Andy. In the
early 1960s Stewart appeared
in five episodes of Mister Ed.

Stewart opposed Hollywood's long-standing
practice of typecasting African Americans as
maids and porters and worked to change it.
In 1950 Stewart and his wife Edna founded the
Ebony Showcase Theatre in Los Angeles which
provided a venue for performers of all races.


In 1953, at the same time Nick Stewart
was playing Lightnin' on Amos 'n Andy,
he also appeared in 21 episodes of an
adventure series set in Africa. It was
another of my favorite TV shows.
Can you name it?




Jon Hall played Dr. Tom 'Ramar' Reynolds,
the son of missionaries, who practiced the
white man's medicine in Africa and India
in Ramar of the Jungle, a TV series that
I loved as a kid. Ray Montgomery co-
starred as Professor Howard Ogden.

Nick Stewart, Lightnin' on Amos 'n Andy,
played native guide Willy-Willy and was
always accompanied by his cute and
frisky pet monkey, Babette.

AT 2:58 MARK!


Take one British boy babe - dancer, singer
and male model Steve Grant, add two female
singers - Denise Gyngell (one of Hill's Angels
on TV's The Benny Hill Show) and Julie Harris,
toss in a guy in a gorilla suit and what have
you got? Answer: Tight Fit, the English pop
group that gave us this surreal cover
of the Tokens' 1961/62 hit "The Lion
Sleeps Tonight." This single sold
a million + copies in the UK!

"The Lion Sleeps Tonight" 
Tight Fit (March 1982,
highest chart pos. #1 UK)

Have a Shady day!


  1. I am too young to remember Ramar of the Jungle-- and I only have faint memories of watching reruns of Amos and Andy-- but I do remember the character Lightning. Those are interesting pieces of trivia about the two shows and it was a nice tribute to actor Nick Stewart who appeared in both.

    I never heard of the group Tight Fit or their version of The Lion Sleeps Tonight-- That video of theirs is hilarious! I remember us watching Benny Hill's show together years ago. This jungle-themed post of yours was such fun, Shady!

    1. Hi, Kathryn!

      Thanks for taking a look at the first of what will be a new series of brain busting posts in which I ask a Trivia Question or Questions.

      Yessum, I realize you are a few years younger than Shady, and I suspected that you might not remember the series Ramar of the Jungle. I certainly do, including the antics of the little monkey Babette. Of course, back in the early and mid 50s, I was too young to realize that Lightnin’ on Amos 'N' Andy and Willy-Willy on Ramar were the same actor. Nick Stewart played a dull witted sort of character in both series but, in real life, he was a wise man who did some good and left a legacy, and that is why I wanted to shine the spotlight on him.

      During my vinyl collecting days I owned a record by Tight Fit called “Back to the 60’s.” It was a medley of familiar 60s hits recorded by sound-alike artists and set to a standardized BPM club beat. It was released in June 1981 around the same time that another group, the Stars on 45, were making their initial splash with a similar type of record, their famous "Beatles Medley." I wasn’t aware until recently that Tight Fit was a UK trio or that they waxed this groovy cover of “The Lion Sleeps.” The video is so bad… it’s great… and now I can’t get the song or those images out of my head! :)

      Thanks again for joining the fun, Kathryn, and have a nice day!

  2. Tom, The 50s TV programs are before my time and I don't think I ever caught them as a re-run, either. I do remembering catching some of the old Jack Benny shows. I always liked Chester on it. He was funny with come backs. I never understood the color division Black vs White as a kid. I saw all people the same and the entertainment was great despite being black or white. I will say this, black entertainers today don't realize just how good they have it. Those in the industry before really made their lives SO much easier and they are paid a whole heap a lot more! Thanks for sharing such a delightful post.

    1. Hi, Cathy!

      Thanks for coming over to experience Lightnin' in the Jungle.

      I figured you are too young to remember these series that were early faves of mine, but I hope you had fun learning about both shows and about Nick Stewart who was in both. Amos 'N' Andy started out as a radio show created by two white actors, Gosden and Correll. It was controversial because it adhered to the minstrel show traditon of white people in black face lampooning black people. However, the TV series which ran from 1951 to 1953 (first run) and in syndication until 1966 used black actors and was a very funny series, a guilty pleasure, and I don't think it promoted racism.

      I agree that young entertainers, black white and others, don't know how good they have it and don't do enough to remember, acknowledge and thank the people who paved the way for them, fought hard and won the freedoms they take for granted.

      Yessum, I also watched Jack Benny and enjoyed his exchanges with Rochester.

      I hope you enjoyed listening to that early 80s English version of the early 60s U.S. hit "The Lion Sleeps Tonight."

      Thanks again for coming, dear friend Cathy, and enjoy the rest of your week and weekend!

    2. Tom, Ah, I didn't understand why the show was such a controversy and like you I don't view any of those old programs as racist. I think if anything it should bridge the difference between races of the time but we know that there was a heavy line between black & white in those early days, as crazy as it seems. However racism has been around since the beginning of time. All you have to do is look back to the Egyptians and the Israelites. I guess as long as mankind has that human flaw called "sin" then racism, intolerance, and hatred will always be with us. Oh thanks for correcting me on Jack Benny's sidekick - Rochester who I called previously Chester. I was close. :) The 80s English version of The Lion Sleeps Tonight was okay. I prefer the original by The Tokens, though. Y'all have a good weekend!

    3. Hi again, Cathy!

      It took me a while to figure out the correct name of Jack Benny's valet. Then I remembered that it was Rochester. Eddie "Rochester" Anderson appeared in dozens of movies in the 30s and 40s, playing things like janitors, porters and doormen, before showing up in 1963 as a taxi driver in one of my favorite movies, one of the funniest films ever made - It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World.

      Thanks again for coming by and have a wonderful weekend, dear friend Cathy!

  3. Well, I do remember Lightning and Amos n' Andy, but we didn't watch it much. We did watch Little Rascals quite a bit though. The episode you presented was very good, so cute with the princess and Sir Lancelot, a funny and cute show. I did watch 'Mr. Ed' once in a while, but don't remember Mr. Stewart on the show.

    But, I'm afraid I did not ever see "Ramar of The Jungle". Looks like that was probably a good show. My brother, sister and I always watched "Tarzan" and, would have welcomed another jungle program.

    Tight Fit...hmmm! I have heard a cover of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight", but don't know who recorded it. Tight Fit did a fantastic job, and the video was very entertaining! Humorous and good dancing!

    Great post Shady! It's always nice to travel back a ways and remember some of the oldies that are very good to this day. And, I find that some of the movies from the early 1940's to early 1950's are really great! I like the murder mysteries, some, of which can put you on the edge of your chair even without today's technology. The musical scores alone were pretty creepy, lol! And, I think the movies and shows in black and white lend more to the drama of a story.

    We have a warm and muggy day today. My days are starting earlier now than they were last month. But, I have a roast and veggies in the slow cooker, and some laundry already done. Time for a break, I guess. Hope your day is going well, my friend. Thank you again, and, I will see you next time! ♫

    1. Hi, Suzanne!

      Thank you for coming by to bust your brain with the first of my Trivia Question posts.

      I'm happy to know you remember at least one of the featured shows. I am sure I saw all 78 episodes of Amos 'N' Andy several times. The TV series originally ran from 1951-53 and was sponsored by Blatz Beer. A & A continued in syndication through the mid 60s. I also watched all episodes of the Our Gang comedy shorts, packaged as The Little Rascals for television syndication.

      I'm sorry you never saw Ramar of the Jungle, the adventure series that ran from 1952 to 1953. You can watch episodes on YouTube. I saw all 52 eps of Ramar as a kid. It was so funny because, in every episode, you could hear the same sound FX of a jungle bird calling. They played it over and over again :) I also watched the original Tarzan movies with Johnny Weissmuller and Maureen O'Sullivan.

      I'm pleased that you enjoyed the glamorous UK trio Tight Fit and their audio and video version "The Lion Sleeps Tonight." It was this week in 1962 when the original single by The Tokens was reaching the top of the chart. As I recall that distinctively different hit song was played on the radio practically the entire cold and snowy winter of ‘61/’62.

      I love film noir dramas of the 40s and early 50s and I will have a post that includes a few of them coming up later this year, so stay tuned.

      I wish I could taste the roast and veggies you have in the slow cooker. I love meals made that way! Our weather is warming up, too, and I am patiently waiting for the next polar air mass to sweep down.

      Thank you again for joining the fun, dear friend Suzanne. Take good care of yourself and Scootie and I will connect with you again soon!

  4. I don't remember that one and had to check the IMDB for the answer.
    Is the Ebony Showcase Theatre still around?

    1. Hi, Alex!

      Thanks for coming, good buddy!

      I needed to surf the web to find the answer to your question. Unfortunately, according to Nick Stewart's daughter who has the website << the theater buildings were demolished by the Community Redevelopment Agency in 1998. >> However, Valarie vows to continue << the theater's mission "education, artistic, and cultural enrichment, through entertainment" via the internet and various venues. >>

      I hope you dug "The Lion Sleeps." It's not exactly progressive metal, but it's a fun song and vid.

      Thanks again, Alex, and have a great weekend!

  5. I don't think I remember any of them, but it's good to know. :)

    1. Hi, Luxie!

      How are you, my friend around the world? Thanks for dropping in!

      These two series aired light years before you were born, and so it stands to reason that you never heard of them. Even the 80s remake of "Lion Sleeps" was before your time. Nevertheless I hope you enjoyed learning and listening.

      Thanks again for your visit and comment, dear friend Lux!

  6. Hi, Shady!

    I love older TV shows and Mister Ed used to be one of my favorites! I just love that horse and his jokes.

    I love the remake of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight." Many great memories of listening to that song when I was a child.

    Happy Thankful Thursday, dear friend!

    1. Hi, Jessica Marie!

      Thanks for joining the fun and trying to answer my Trivia Question this evening. Looks like you drew a blank on the two TV series. I'm happy that you know and like the song "The Lion Sleeps." It was a powerful memory maker for me when I was age 12 and I got a kick out of the Tight Fit version of the early 80s.

      Happy Thankful Thursday to you as well (what's left of it). See you soon, dear friend JM!

  7. I think that was about the only hit Tight Fit ever had, and when you watch the video you can see why! Ha. Novelty records are often the kiss of death for any artist, however big a hit it is.

    1. Hi, Joey!

      Thanks for dropping by, my good friend. Happy New Year!

      I was hoping you'd notice this ditty by Tight Fit and have something to say about the group. Their "Lion Sleeps" cover topped the UK chart for three weeks, but I best remember them for their "Back to the 60s" medley which played in clubs in my area (central Pennsylvania) in the early 80s along with Beatles, Stones, Stevie Wonder, Supremes and ABBA medleys recorded by Stars on 45 (known in the UK as Starsound. Tight Fit broke up in 1983 but all three members reunited in 2010 for live shows and to work on a new album. I have another vintage Tight Fit hit in the pipeline, so stay tuned.

      Thanks again for coming over, Joey. Have a great weekend!

  8. Have we come a long way since the Tokens? Somehow I missed Ramar, but not Froggy! What is left of the Tokens are still doing the yearly Bowzer show at Hershey Park and sound much like they die in early 60s. They don't look as good as Tight Fit.

    1. Hi, Jerre!

      You forgot to sign your name this time, but I know it's you because you're the only "Anonymous" I know who remembers Froggy the Gremlin from Andy's Gang. :) Mentioning "Hershey Park" also gave your i.d. away. :)

      I told you I was going to start asking Trivia Questions and this is the first such post. Sorry you didn't watch Ramar of the Jungle, one of little Shady's favorite TV series. (Did you notice that they are trying to find a cure for "Jungle Fever" in that old clip? I won't even go there. :)

      Yes, I would say that we have officially come a long way since The Tokens committed "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" to wax in the fall of 1961, a single that entered the pop chart the week before T-giving, had a lock on #1 thru most of December including Christmas and New Year, and was still riding the chart on Valentine's Day 1962 - a very memorable hit record for the group. As I told you before, I met The Tokens when I stage managed an oldies show in the 80s and they were among the surprise guests pulled from the audience. Others included members of The Flamingos and Jewel Akens. It is interesting to note that The Tokens released a single in the summer of '61 titled "When I Go To Sleep At Night" that completely missed the chart. The flip side, "Dry Your Eyes," sounds a lot like "Little Darlin'," the 1957 hit by The Diamonds.

      I trust the word "die" in your comment is a typo. :)

      Completely unrelated, but I thought you might be interested: You might have seen the news story today about the death this week of Tommy Allsup, the guitar player who lost a coin toss to Ritchie Valens and avoided death in the plane crash that killed Valens, Buddy Holly and The Big Bopper:

      In recent years I have been following Tommy's ex-wife Karen Kelly on YouTube and will be posting her records here on SDMM. Here's a sample of her work:

      Thanks a lot for checking out the post and for your comment, good buddy Jerre. Happy New Year!

    2. Yes, that was a typo and I forgot to sign my name. Old age. I was not a big fan of "The Birds and the Bees" but I did like the Flamingos. As you know Tommy Hunt's "Human" is one of my favorites and I'm pretty sure he sang with the Flamingos at one time. According to LaBamba, Richie Valens did like to fly and avoided it as much as possible. I think we missed out on a lot of good music that would have come from Buddy Holly. I guess it will educate myself with some new stuff from Karen Kelly.
      Jerre (I remembered)

    3. Hi, Jerre!

      Thanks for the return visit, good buddy!

      Yes, Tommy Hunt joined The Flamingos in October 1956. First tenor Johnny Carter, an original member of The Flamingos, went over to The Dells in the late 50s and remained with that fine group nearly 50s years until his death.

      Losing Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens in that plane crash was an incalculable loss to music. Think of all the great work the two could have done in the decades that followed "The Day the Music Died."

      Karen Kelly's best stuff is in the girl pop/girl group vein. I already introduced one of her recordings in Echoes 5:

      Thanks again for participating in the discussion, Jerre. I hope to see you again soon. (Next Monday's post is another special one.)

  9. We didn't have a TV until much later but I remember listening to Jack Benny on radio. Or I think I do.
    We listened to all kinds of great shows on the radio.

    Great post today.
    cheers, parsnip

    1. Hi, Gayle!

      Thank you very much for coming by, my dear Tuscon friend!

      I'm not sure how we got started on a Jack Benny thread, but I am willing to run with it. :) I didn't listen to The Jack Benny Program on radio, but I never missed an episode on TV. My parents and others of WWII generation tuned in to those vintage radio broadcasts but, but the time I came along in the post war era, most of those shows were coming to an end and it was all about the music. I missed a lot of classic comedy sketches by skipping the "Best of Benny" radio reruns in the 50s. The only thing I wanted to hear on the radio was rock 'n' roll music.

      Thanks for sharing memories with me, dear friend Gayle. I wish you and thehamish a safe and restful weekend!

  10. Sorry, Mr Shady ... I did enjoy the first video about the ring and all, but am afraid I'll fail miserably at your trivia questions being an Eastern European chicka ... so let's leave it at dat, hmmm? Love, cat.

    1. Hi, cat!

      Thank you very much for coming down to rack your brains over my Trivia Question. (There are more such posts coming up, so start studying. :)

      It doesn't surprise me that you aren't familiar with U.S. television programs of the early 50s. You are decades too young to remember them and, as you pointed out, of Eastern European ancestry. I'm happy that you found the exchange between Lightnin' and the Kingfish a-mewsing (correct kitty spelling).

      I take it you also did not know the British pop trio Tight Fit. That's AOK. As my dear feline friend, I hope you enjoyed their song about the sleeping lion. :)

      Thanks again for joining the fun, dear cat, and have a wonderful weekend!

  11. Hi Shady!
    I read this amusing post yesterday, on my way out the door and couldn't wait to return to tell you I enjoyed it!
    Ironically, while being well aware of Amos and Andy, I'd never once seen an episode. I saw nothing controversial in the clip you provided and found it refreshingly funny. I hadn't even heard of Ramar of the Jungle, but I'm pretty sure I'd have enjoyed the show - I'm already taken with Babette ;-) It's a good thing I didn't even try to venture a guess this time, but I did think about every show I've ever seen, set in or regarding Africa for the rest of the day.
    The Lion Sleeps Tonight, by the Tokens, has always been a favorite. I thought Tight Fit depicted more of a farcical version, not unlike when the cast of Friends sang it for Ross's monkey! All great fun, my friend - thanks for another engaging post!

    1. Hi, diedre!

      How are you, dear friend? I am delighted to see you!

      You and almost all of my other actively participating followers are significantly younger than Shady. I have found that an age difference of only ten years can make a huge difference. Keep in mind that I am also a guy (mental age 15..... months :) and most of my followers are women. I like spiders and snakes, lions, tigers and bears, and giant T-Rexes that topple skyscrapers with their tails. The point is that many women didn't (back then) and don't (now) pay attention to the things I tend to like. :)

      I'm please that you watched that scene from Amos 'N' Andy with Lightnin' and "The Kingfish." A & A is a very funny sitcom that boasts a great cast and excellent storytelling. There are many full episodes available on Y/T.

      Yessum, as a boy I loved to watch the curious, frisky little monkey Babette. She was always getting into mischief, much to handler Willy-Willy's chagrin.

      I'm pretty sure the Tight Fit cover of "Lion Sleeps," indeed the concept of the group itself, was a put-on, providing eye candy for both the straight and the gay community, but I think they were a clever and entertaining act nevertheless. The pretty people trio group reunited in recent years, perform live shows, and are working on their first new album in 34 years. I have another video by Tight Fit slated for a future post.

      Thank you again for your kind visit and generous comment, dear friend diedre. I hope you are having a fine weekend. See you soon!

  12. Hi Shady.
    Although I've heard of Amos and Andy, I never once saw an episode and wasn't aware of any controversy. I enjoyed the clip you presented here.
    I also had never heard of Rumar of the Jungle! How could that be??! Thanks for introducing me to it!

    I love The Lion Sleeps Tonight! That brings back memories for sure. Although familiar with the song, I could've never told you who it was by so it was nice to be introduced to Tight Fit.

    Lots of introductions here today for me Shady! As always, another interesting post!

    Hope you're having a good Sunday. It's dark, misty and dreary here: my favorite kind of Sunday! Talk soon.

    Michele at Angels Bark

    1. Hi, Michele!

      Thank you very much for popping over to test your knowledge with the first of my brain busting Trivia Questions. (There are more coming, so you'd better stay up all night cramming for the test. :)

      Coming to your defense, you are much younger than Shady, so I didn't expect someone your age to be familiar with these television series of the early 50s - Amos 'N' Andy and Ramar of the Jungle. Little Shady watched them both shows but never put 2 + 2 together and realized that Willy-Willy was Lightnin'. (King Kong was actually Babette in a VERY large costume. :)

      The 1950s/60s Brooklyn doo-wop vocal group The Tokens recorded the best selling version of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" and it was another major memory maker from my youth. Tight Fit, the photogenic trio from the UK, covered "Lion" 20 years later and it ROARED to #1 on the British chart. I do not remember listening to their record stateside but I well remember their medley "Back To the 60s" because I danced to it in clubs and owned a copy of it in my vinyl collecting years.

      You like dark, dreary, misty days? That's so cool, One-L! Here in Florida we cherish rain cooled days, too, and I wish you'd blow us a good strong cold front before winter comes to an end.

      Thank you again for your visit and comment, dear friend Michele, and have a great week!

  13. I do remember Amos and Andy and I'm sure it was reruns I watched. I was born in '53 and I don't remember any reruns of "Rumar" but it was fun to watch the clip. The video of "The lion sleeps tonight" was a hoot! I loved that song and I have to admit I had to go back and read the date of the video because I kept thinking the girls looked like 80's babes..and I was right since it was a remake. Duh...I'm just behind in every way today! Our Sunday has been cool but dry and Chubbs and I took a little stroll yesterday and again today in the Creepy Woods. We had a lot of trees removed and it looks like the Yeti came through and made a huge mess of the place! Have a good week Shady!

    1. Hi, YaYa!

      Thank you very much for reporting in and playing a game of trivial pursuit with me, dear friend!

      You are one of the few people to comment who say they watched Amos 'N' Andy back in the day. The series was in reruns for many years and I think most or all episodes I watched as a kid were reruns. Ramar of the Jungle was probably in reruns, too, when I watched it.

      Yessum, that video is an early 80s remake of "Lion Sleeps," the classic oldie by The Tokens that topped the chart in December 1961 and remained popular the first few weeks of 1962, a familiar sound on the radio practically the whole winter season. Nobody seems to remember the UK comedy The Benny Hill Show and "Hill's Angels," the bevy of beauties that were regulars on the English comic's series. One of the members of Tight Fit was formerly a Hill's Angel.

      It's a good thing you and Chubbs waited until Saturday and didn't take a walk in the Creepy Woods on Friday the 13th. The Yeti might have attacked. :)

      Thank you again for making time for a visit and for your wonderful comment, dear friend YaYa. Have a super week ahead!


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