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Hamilton Cloud, II

Television producer and talent agent Hamilton Cloud, II, was born on November 30, 1952, in Los Angeles, California. His father, Hamilton Cloud, Sr. was one of a few African Americans trained at the Northwestern University Dental School at the time of his graduation. Cloud grew up in Los Angeles but pursued his education at Yale University, where he earned his B.A. degree for his studies in “Communications: Mass Media and Black America,” a concentration that he originated.

Working with radio programs in Los Angeles for fifteen years, Cloud established himself within the media industry. His interests then turned to television programming, producing children’s and public affairs programs. In 1978, Cloud joined the network programming department at the National Broadcasting Company (NBC), and he became the vice president of Current Comedy Programs in 1982. In this role, he supervised the weekly production of a number of well-known comedy series, including Cheers and Family Ties. Cloud began his work in producing the NAACP Image Awards in 1987. The 19th Annual NAACP Image Awards, when broadcasted on NBC, marked the first time the show was aired on a national television network. Cloud served as the producer of the annual show for fourteen more years.

In 1990, Cloud supervised and developed programming for Playboy Entertainment Group’s cable, home video and television divisions. Within three years, he was chosen serve as the vice president of Quincy Jones/David Salzman Entertainment (QDE), supervising first-run television, special events and interactive programming. After creating Thundercloud Productions in 1995, Cloud became the senior vice-president of Letnom Productions the following year. He continued to produce television shows such as The Montel Williams Show and events like Game of the Century, a baseball event to recognize the legacy of the Negro Baseball Leagues.

Cloud has served on a number of boards, including the Hall of Fame and the Prime Time Emmy Award Committees of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He has also been a member of the WGA and The Caucus of Producers, Writers and Directors.

Cloud is married to Fukue Yamaguchi. The couple has one daughter.

Hamilton Cloud was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 29, 2011.

Accession Number

A2011.036

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/29/2011 |and| 4/30/2011

Last Name

Cloud

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

S.

Schools

Yale University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Hamilton

Birth City, State, Country

Los Angeles

HM ID

CLO03

Favorite Season

Fall

Sponsor

Herb and Sheran Wilkins Media Makers

State

California

Favorite Vacation Destination

Maui, Hawaii

Favorite Quote

Everything's going to be alright.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Interview Description
Birth Date

11/30/1952

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Peanut Butter

Short Description

Talent agent and television producer Hamilton Cloud, II (1952 - ) produced the NAACP Image Awards from 1987 to 2000. In 1987, the Image Awards were broadcast on a national television network for the first time. Cloud has worked with a number of other companies, including NBC, Playboy Entertainment Group, and QDE.

Employment

NBC

Imaginary Entertainment

Quincy Jones/David Salzman Entertainment

Letnom Productions

Thundercloud Productions

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Green

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Hamilton Cloud's interview, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Hamilton Cloud lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Hamilton Cloud describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his maternal grandmother's Moravian cookies

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his mother's aspirations, and how his parents met and married

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Hamilton Cloud describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Hamilton Cloud talks about tracing his paternal ancestry to Nashville, Tennessee, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Hamilton Cloud talks about tracing his paternal ancestry to Nashville, Tennessee, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Hamilton Cloud talks about meeting a relative in Knoxville, Tennessee, and visiting his great-grandparents' graves

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his paternal great-grandfather, Peter Cooper Cloud's death

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his paternal grandparents, Lillian Strawbridge and Frank Herman Cloud

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his father's service in World War II and the Korean War and his training to become a dentist

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Hamilton Cloud talks about HistoryMaker Leo Branton, who was his father's friend

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his father's and African American service in the Korean War, and his father's anti-war sentiment during the Vietnam War

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his birthplace home of Los Angeles, California

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his siblings, and his likeness to his parents

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his family's interest in music and dance

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his favorite memory of his maternal grandfather

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his paternal grandfather's photography

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Hamilton Cloud talks about the neighborhood where he grew up in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his home and neighborhood

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Hamilton Cloud describes his experience in school in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Hamilton Cloud talks about race relations in Los Angeles, California while he was growing up

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Hamilton Cloud talks about the Los Angeles Police Department's (LAPD) reputation in the black community in the 1960s

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his interest in television and radio, and his parents exposing he and his siblings to the arts

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his parents' involvement in the Civil Rights Movement and playing football near Ray Charles' home in Los Angeles

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his mentors in school

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his favorite movie as a child, 'The Magnificent Seven'

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Hamilton Cloud talks about high school and his decision to attend Yale University

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his extracurricular activities in high school and graduating in 1970

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Hamilton Cloud describes his experience at Yale University in the 1970s

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Hamilton Cloud talks about prominent African Americans who studied at Yale University while he was there

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Hamilton Cloud describes his experience working at WYBC radio station at Yale University and the programming that it offered

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Hamilton Cloud talks about Yale University's radio station, WYBC, as a cultural focal point in New Haven, Connecticut

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Hamilton Cloud talks about how he got his first job at a mainstream radio station in New Haven, and later in television at NBC in Los Angeles

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Hamilton Cloud talks about taking a semester off from Yale University, his father's skill and income as a dentist, and paying his way through college

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his experience working at radio stations and teaching in Los Angeles, and his move to television at KABC, Channel 7

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his experience at NBC in Los Angeles, California and his involvement with the production of 'Shogun'

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Hamilton Cloud talks about the Japanese American community's reception of the television mini-series, 'Shogun'

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Hamilton Cloud describes his involvement in the production of the television movie, 'Grambling's White Tiger'

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his mentor at NBC, Brandon Tartikoff, and his experience as Vice President of Current Comedy

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Hamilton Cloud talks about the popular sitcoms that aired on NBC in the 1980s

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Hamilton Cloud talks about why he left NBC in 1984

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Hamilton Cloud describes how the NAACP Image Awards began, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Hamilton Cloud describes how the NAACP Image Awards began, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Hamilton Cloud describes his experience producing the NAACP Image Awards

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Hamilton Cloud talks about the honorees of the NAACP Image Awards

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Hamilton Cloud talks about planning a tribute to Oprah Winfrey as part of the NAACP Image Awards

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Hamilton Cloud talks about introducing 'Name that Tune' at the NAACP Image Awards

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Hamilton Cloud talks about why he left the NAACP Image Awards, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Hamilton Cloud talks about why he left the NAACP Image Awards, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his responsibilities as the producer of the NAACP Image Awards

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Hamilton Cloud discusses some of his proudest moments as the producer of the NAACP Image Awards

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Hamilton Cloud talks about the NAACP Image Awards demographics

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his production and personal management company, Imaginary Entertainment

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Slating of Hamilton Cloud's interview, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Hamilton Cloud talks co-founding Imaginary Entertainment, and having Miriam Makeba as a client

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his work with Paul Simon's 'Graceland' tour, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his work with Paul Simon's 'Graceland' tour, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Hamilton Cloud talks about Paul Simon's 'Graceland' tour, and the initial reception that it received from anti-Apartheid activists

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Hamilton Cloud talks about Paul Simon and other prominent artists giving credit to artists who worked with them, and inspired their work

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Hamilton Cloud talks about Miriam Makeba and Nelson Mandela's birthday concert in London

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Hamilton Cloud talks about Nelson Mandela's release from prison, and working with Stevie Wonder to create the Martin Luther King Day Holiday

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Hamilton Cloud talks about working with Jon Hendricks of the vocalese group, 'Lambert, Hendricks and Ross'

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his radio show, 'Innervisions', pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his radio show, 'Innervisions', pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his radio show, 'Black Spectrum'

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Hamilton Cloud talks about going to Bob Marley's concerts in California in the 1970s and honoring him posthumously at the NAACP Image Awards

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Hamilton Cloud talks about organizing a gala for President Bill Clinton and the Heads of States of the western hemisphere, with Quincy Jones, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Hamilton Cloud talks about organizing a gala for President Bill Clinton and the Heads of States of the western hemisphere, with Quincy Jones, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his work on the mockumentary, 'The Compleat Al'

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his work with Quincy Jones/David Salzman Entertainment (QDE), pt. 1

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his work with Quincy Jones/David Salzman Entertainment (QDE), pt. 2

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his decision to work at Playboy Entertainment

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Hamilton Cloud describes his experience working at Playboy Entertainment

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Hamilton Cloud talks about how he met his wife, and their marriage

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Hamilton Cloud talks about working with Montel Williams, pt. 1

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Hamilton Cloud talks about working with Montel Williams, pt. 2

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Hamilton Cloud talks about Montel Williams and Montel's struggle with multiple sclerosis (MS)

Tape: 9 Story: 9 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his former assistant, Stacy Milner, her husband Ted Milner, and their business

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his work with 'Game of the Century', a salute to the Negro Baseball Leagues at Dodger Stadium, pt. 1

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his work with 'Game of the Century', a salute to the Negro Baseball Leagues at Dodger Stadium, pt. 2

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Hamilton Cloud talks about organizing a beauty pageant show for historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs)

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Hamilton Cloud talks about the success of the beauty pageant show for HBCUs and the step-dance competition, "Stomp"

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Hamilton Cloud talks about producing a tribute to Maynard Jackson at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Hamilton Cloud talks about producing a tribute to African American organizations at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado

Tape: 10 Story: 7 - Hamilton Cloud talks his interest in producing a record album with the artist, D Knowledge

Tape: 10 Story: 8 - Hamilton Cloud talks about producing a record album with the artist, D Knowledge, and working with him on other projects

Tape: 11 Story: 1 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his involvement in the opening of the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, Kentucky

Tape: 11 Story: 2 - Hamilton Cloud describes his role as the Director of Special Projects for Congresswoman Maxine Waters

Tape: 11 Story: 3 - Hamilton Cloud talks about age discrimination in the entertainment industry

Tape: 11 Story: 4 - Hamilton Cloud talks about the shortsightedness of attempts to abolish unions, and age discrimination

Tape: 11 Story: 5 - Hamilton Cloud talks about Congressman Maxine Waters

Tape: 11 Story: 6 - Hamilton Cloud reflects upon his life and career

Tape: 11 Story: 7 - Hamilton Cloud reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 12 Story: 1 - Hamilton Cloud reflects upon the African Americans community

Tape: 12 Story: 2 - Hamilton Cloud reflects upon African American ownership of their community, pt. 1

Tape: 12 Story: 3 - Hamilton Cloud reflects upon African American ownership of their community, pt. 2

Tape: 12 Story: 4 - Hamilton Cloud reflects upon dwindling African American representation in Hollywood

Tape: 12 Story: 5 - Hamilton Cloud talks about not having political ambitions

Tape: 12 Story: 6 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his staff's role as Congresswoman Maxine Waters' media representative

Tape: 12 Story: 7 - Hamilton Cloud describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 1

Tape: 12 Story: 8 - Hamilton Cloud describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 2

Tape: 13 Story: 1 - Hamilton Cloud talks about his family

Tape: 13 Story: 2 - Hamilton Cloud talks about how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 13 Story: 3 - Hamilton Cloud describes his photographs

DASession

1$2

DATape

4$6

DAStory

2$1

DATitle
Hamilton Cloud describes his experience working at WYBC radio station at Yale University and the programming that it offered
Hamilton Cloud talks about introducing 'Name that Tune' at the NAACP Image Awards
Transcript
My favorite professor is still there [Yale University], a gentleman by the name of Willie Ruff who you guys should interview cause he's, he's a treasure trove. He--yeah he's fantastic, music professor and jazz musician. Spends half the year teaching at Yale and the other half traveling the world as a jazz musician. And he exposed us to so many things. I, I literally got to, to meet Duke Ellington and I hosted a radio broadcast of a concert that Willie Ruff organized with Ellington and his orchestra. He, he funded the Ellington Fellowship at Yale, and that was the kickoff of that and I actually hosted the radio broadcast of it. Just brought through Honi Coles and B.B. King and, and, and just incredible folks that you know, I was exposed to while I was there. And, and yeah, great time, great time to, to be there. And so I, I fell in love with radio. I walked in the radio station and it was like the lightning bolt. I knew that's what I wanted to do and ended up--Yale had a commercial FM license. And so we broadcast to all of New Haven [Connecticut], and it was a very rare for a college radio station to have a commercial license. And so we could sell commercials and support the radio station that way. And we weren't paid but we were able to you know keep the electricity on and, and all of that. So the university didn't pay for the radio station, it was self supporting. So we had a program called 'Black Spectrum' that was on the air five hours a day and then most of the weekends. I forget what the total number of hours were per week. And I became the program director of Black Spectrum and it was the number one radio station in New Haven at, at the time. Because New Haven had this sizable African American population that didn't have its, its own radio. So we became that and before Black Spectrum there was a, a, a group of pioneering folks who did a program called 'Soul Sessions'. And they created that programming in the '60s [1960s] and then we carried forward with Black Spectrum and we were so far ahead of our time in terms of mixing genres of, of black music and, and Latin music. Because back then you know, you couldn't mix R&B [rhythm and blues] with jazz or gospel or Latin. But that's what we did. And--$$I've always found that curious that, that black people will, will you know--$$Yeah, well, well--$$--well that's not you know--$$Exactly.$$R&B was all you heard on most of the black radio stations around the country.$$Yes.$$And that was it and if you put jazz or anything else on it--$$Which, that always struck me as very strange too because it, it all comes from the same roots. And you know I suppose there are purists, but we created a format where we did mix all the music and it worked. And we were really proud, and we were following the lead of WHUR in, in Washington, D.C. [District of Columbia] which is again, a very pioneering--$$I was going to mention them as that's the only other station I've heard that mixed the genres like that.$$Yes.$$WHUR.$$And, and we were following their lead. And I got to meet Tony Brown and, and, and go to some conferences in D.C. and, and we were really inspired by what they did. And so we did this programming in New Haven that people still remember and, and you know I, I've met and heard from people who you know, still remember the programming that we did and, and the show, Black Spectrum, lived on for many years.$$Did you intersperse some political content as well?$$Yes.$$Like Malcolm's [Malcolm X] speeches and Dr. [Martin Luther] King.$$Yes, yes, yes. That's exactly what we did. So we would play snippets of King and of Malcolm and there was a great album called "Guess Who's Coming Home?" about black fighting men in Vietnam [war] that we would pull snippets out of that. I'm glad you mentioned that cause again, that's what WHUR was doing. And so we--it was, it was really culturally rich and sophisticated and, and musically, and we were very, very proud of it.$All right. Now, we were talking about the [NAACP; National Association for the Advancement of Colored People] Image Awards, some of the stories, and you have a Roger Ebert story.$$Yes. And what made me think about it was when--I feel that throughout my career and my life I've been really blessed with a higher power, you know, looking out for me. And in the Image Awards, during the fourteen years that I did them, we put a lot of time and energy into thinking about how we would honor people. And, as I said, we try to do it in a way that would be very memorable. But I also know that we had some great luck along the way, because some things broke our way that you just couldn't have predicted. So, one example is we were going to honor the Isley Brothers one year, and we were in the production office with--I had a large writing staff, and the reason I did that is that the brainstorming process in my mind was as valuable as the actual writing. And so, I made sure to have a diverse writing staff; you know, age-wise, experience-wise, background-wise. And so, my policy was that any idea was welcomed and--which I learned from Brandon Tartikoff--and that anybody could throw out an idea and we would bat it around. And I always felt that my skill was determining the good ideas from the bad ones, and then maybe taking the good ideas up a notch. So, we were in the office and we were brainstorming about what could we do to pay tribute to the Isley Brothers. And we were just--I had bought a 'Greatest Hits' package, and we were bouncing through 'The Greatest Hits' package, and I'd play the first fifteen seconds of a song, and my writers would shout out the name of the song, you know, just naturally, because it would bring back so many memories for us. So, I said, "Wow, what if we did 'name that tune,' you know, and did it with the audience?" And so, one of the members of the staff said, "Well, why don't we use Steve Harvey to do this segment?" And we said, "Okay. Let's have Steve Harvey go into the audience and we'll play 'Name that Tune' with the audience, and we'll see if it works. And if it doesn't work, that's okay," because then the Image Awards wasn't live, it was videotaped. So I knew that if it didn't work, you know, I could cut it out. But, we picked, you know, four or five songs, and we told Steve, who was going to be in the audience, but we didn't tell him necessarily who to pick. And we didn't' tell the audience it was going to happen. So, he goes down into the audience, and I remember Chris Rock was one of the people that he asked, and you know, you could tell they were reluctant because he was literally picking him up out of the audience and they didn't know what was going to happen. So Chris Rock got all of the answers correctly, and then we picked somebody else, I can't remember who it was. But Steve was doing a great job with it. And he--by the way, before we did it, he wasn't even sure it was going to work. He said, "You're sure you want to try it?" And I was like, "Yeah. And you're so good on your feet that, you know, you'll make it work even if the person doesn't get the right answer." So, I don't what made him decide to go to Roger Ebert. And, you know, I guess he thought Roger Ebert, who has this image of being, you know, pretty square. And none of us knew that Roger happened to be married to an African American woman and that she was sitting next to him. But none of us knew that at the time. And so, Steve goes over to Roger Ebert and we play the song and we'll all thinking, "Oh, boy. He's never going to get this." And Roger turns to his wife and, of course, she gets the answer right away. And Steve turned it into a really funny bit. So that to me was an example of how, you know, pure luck, and sort of, I guess, good karma would be the best way to describe it. Things almost always worked for us on the Image Awards.$$Okay.