CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) – Long before Don Cornelius took us on a funky ride on “Soul Train”, a local Channel 5 program featured black artists and their music. This show was called “Jump Time”. It was created and hosted by Charleston native Arthur Ellison. The show was inspired by Dick Clark’s “American Bandstand”.
“Teenagers would come on set and dance, there was a live interview and entertainment,” Ellison’s daughter, Dawn Ellison Kendrick, said.
“Whatever R&B number one was at the time, he was playing it during the show, people came from all over. He had about 50 to 60 people in the studio dancing to the music,” state Rep. Wendell Gilliard said.
The show transformed Ellison into a local celebrity.
“It had become so popular that just walking down the street with him, people would stop and ask him for an autograph, that’s how popular it was,” Kendrick said.
Unfortunately there are no pictures, but Ellison started hosting “Jump Time” on Channel 5 WCSC in 1960 on Saturday afternoons.
“Marvin Gaye and Tammy Terrell, some celebrities were actually on the show, James Brown and Sam Cooke,” Kendrick said.
“He had the same process and the same method that he followed every Saturday he used to come, everyone gathered around the TVs and they were sitting in the living room, I don’t care where you live “, said Gilliard. .
Gilliard watched like a child as the show aired live from Channel 5’s original downtown studio on East Bay Street. He says Ellison was an inspiring force in the black community.
“’Doing things bigger than what we are’ were the words he always said to us before continuing. That you have to think bigger than you are,” Gilliard said.
Although refined and confident in public, Kendrick says in private, her father spoke softly.
“He was a big kid in our household. I had three brothers and he played with them and he took us to the park. And my dad, I never heard my dad raise his voice,” Kendrick said.
Ellison was living in Atlanta when he died on July 31 at the age of 94.
“I think my dad was a good role model, he was an icon. And he showed the black community that she could do and be whatever she wanted to be,” Kendrick said.
Ellison created three shows in all, but all ceased airing in 1971.
He graduated from high school at the Avery Normal Institute and is a graduate of South Carolina State College in Orangeburg.
Before starting Jump Time, he was a decorated veteran and later became a businessman.
He was awarded Silver Star and Bronze medals, as well as Purple Heart for injuries he suffered while serving in the military. His remains were cremated. He will perform his military service on August 29 in Atlanta.
You can read his obituary by clicking on the link.
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