Wally Amos

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Wally Amos
Born
Wallace Amos Jr.

(1936-07-01) July 1, 1936 (age 83)
ResidenceColumbia, South Carolina, U.S.
Other namesFamous Amos
Known forFamous Amos, Learn to Read
Signature
Wallyamos.png

Wallace "Wally" Amos, Jr. (born July 1, 1936) is an American TV personality, entrepreneur, and author from Tallahassee, Florida. He is the founder of the Famous Amos chocolate-chip cookie, the Cookie Kahuna, and Aunt Della’s Cookies gourmet cookie brands, and was the host of the adult reading program, Learn to Read.

Early life and education[edit]

Amos was born and lived in Tallahassee, Florida, until he was 12 years old.[1] When his parents divorced, he moved to Manhattan, New York with his aunt, where he enrolled at the Food Trades Vocational High School. He showed his interest in cooking at a young age. It was from his aunt Della Bryant, who would bake cookies for him, that Amos later developed his chocolate chip cookie recipe.[1] Amos improved on his aunt Della's recipe, which was already uncommon because it included several ingredients not generally associated with chocolate chip cookies.[vague]

Shortly before graduating, Amos dropped out of high school to join the United States Air Force. He served at Hickam Air Force Base in Honolulu, Hawaii from 1954 until 1957.[2] He earned his high school equivalency diploma[3] before being honorably discharged from the military.

Career[edit]

Returning to New York City, Amos went to college to become a secretary, and after graduating, took a mailroom clerk job with the William Morris Agency.[1] Eventually, he became the agency's first African American talent agent. He signed Simon & Garfunkel and headed the agency's rock 'n' roll department. Amos attracted clients by sending them chocolate chip cookies along with an invitation to visit him. He represented musicians such as Diana Ross & the Supremes, Sam Cooke, and Marvin Gaye.

In 1975, a friend suggested to Amos that he set up a store to sell his cookies, and in March of that year, the first Famous Amos cookie store opened in Los Angeles, California.[4] He started the business with the help of a $25,000 loan from Marvin Gaye and Helen Reddy.[5] The company began to expand and, eventually, Famous Amos chocolate chip cookies could be found on supermarket shelves across the United States. He became such a known figure culturally that he appeared as himself in the Taxi episode "Latka's Cookies", in 1981. Thanks in part to the success of his cookie company, he was hired to deliver speeches. He has written 10 books,[6] many of which have a self-help theme, including The Cookie Never Crumbles[7] and The Power in You.[8]

In 1979, Amos' long-time friend and publicist John Rosica introduced him to Literacy Volunteers of America. Amos has advocated literacy and helped thousands of adults learn to read. In 1987, he also hosted a television series designed to teach others how to read, entitled Learn to Read, produced by Kentucky Educational Television and WXYZ-TV.[9]

Due to financial troubles, Amos was forced to sell the Famous Amos Company, and because the name "Famous Amos" was trademarked by his former company, he had to use The Uncle Noname's Cookie Company as his new company's name.[10] A Famous Amos distributor at the time, Lou Avignone, heard Amos on a local radio talk show and, inspired by Amos' story of his early business success with Famous Amos and his spirit, contacted Amos with the idea for starting a new business. In 1994, the two became partners and subsequently launched Uncle Noname Gourmet Muffins. The company focused on fat-free, nutritious muffins at that time.[11] Uncle Noname became Uncle Wally's Muffin Company in 1999. The muffins are sold in more than 3,500 stores nationwide.[12]

In 2014, an article in Fortune magazine lauded "The cookie comeback of 'Famous' Wally Amos" as Amos bought back his handmade cookies under a new name The Cookie Kahuna. These cookies were marketed in a store in Hawaii, where Amos is based. They come in the flavors original chocolate chip, chocolate chip with pecans and butterscotch with macadamia nuts.[13]

In 2019, Amos was called "the King of cookies" by an NBC affiliate KSNV in Las Vegas.[14]

Personal life[edit]

Wally Amos takes children on a reading adventure during Springfest, an event that celebrates children during the Month of the Military Child on Naval Station Pearl Harbor, April 21, 2007

In 1979, Amos married Christine Amos-Harris (née Harris), who later helped him design the early merchandise and packaging for Famous Amos cookies.[15] One of Amos' children is musician Shawn Amos.[16]

Amos had lived in Hawaii from 1977 until 2018.[17][18][19] Amos currently resides in Columbia, South Carolina, where he is working on Aunt Della's Cookies.[19]

Biographies[edit]

  • Amos, Wally & Robinson, Leroy (November 1, 1983). The Famous Amos Story: The Face That Launched a Thousand Chips. Doubleday. ISBN 978-0385193788.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link) (Book)
  • "Famous Wally Amos: The Cookie King". Biography. 2001. Retrieved 2018-12-22. (Television documentary)
  • The Great Cookie Comeback: Re-Baking Wally Amos (released in May 2018), a documentary film on the life of Wally Amos, released by Content Media Group.[20][21][22]

Filmography[edit]

Year Name Type Role Notes
1980 The Jeffersons television sitcom Man #1 Season 7, episode 3[23]
2001 Biography television documentary as himself The episode is named "Famous Wally Amos: The Cookie King".[24]
2012 The Office television sitcom as himself In 2012, Amos appeared in the February 16 episode of The Office, entitled "Tallahassee", as himself.
2016 Shark Tank television reality show as himself Amos appeared in the October 6, 2016 episode of the American television show Shark Tank seeking $50,000 funding for 20% equity of his company "Cookie Kahuna". The Sharks all passed on the opportunity.[25][26]
2018 The Great Cookie Comeback: Re-Baking Wally Amos documentary film as himself The Great Cookie Comeback: Re-Baking Wally Amos (released in May 2018), a documentary film on the life of Wally Amos, released by Content Media Group.[20][21][22]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Pemoni, Lucy (2007-07-13). "No longer Famous, Wally Amos still baking". msnbc.com. Retrieved 2018-12-22. Born in Tallahassee, Fla., Amos moved to New York City at age 12 because of his parents' divorce. He lived with an aunt, Della Bryant, who taught him how to make chocolate chip cookies.
  2. ^ Thompson, David (2014-08-05). "The Cookie Comeback King: Wally "Famous" Amos". Honolulu Magazine. Retrieved 2018-12-22.
  3. ^ Canedy, Dana (1999-07-03). "A Famous Cookie And a Face to Match; How Wally Amos Got His Hand And His Name Back in the Game". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-12-22.
  4. ^ "Wally Amos | Bio | Premiere Motivational Speakers Bureau". premierespeakers.com. Retrieved 2018-01-09.
  5. ^ Canedy, Dana (1999-07-03). "A Famous Cookie And a Face to Match; How Wally Amos Got His Hand And His Name Back in the Game". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-02-26.
  6. ^ "Wally Amos biography". Amazon. Retrieved 2010-02-26.
  7. ^ "The Cookie Never Crumbles: Practical Recipes for Everyday Living: Wally Amos, Eden-Lee Murray: 9780312304980: Amazon.com: Books". amazon.com.
  8. ^ "The Power in You: Wally Amos: 9781556110931: Amazon.com: Books". amazon.com.
  9. ^ "Learn to Read". TV.com. CBS Interactive.
  10. ^ "Wally Amos - Leading Authorities Speakers Bureau". Leading Authorities. Retrieved 2007-10-30.
  11. ^ "No longer Famous, Wally Amos still baking". msnbc.com. 2007-07-13. Retrieved 2018-01-09.
  12. ^ Canedy, Dana (1999-07-03). "A Famous Cookie And a Face to Match; How Wally Amos Got His Hand And His Name Back in the Game". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-01-09.
  13. ^ Kell, John. "A cookie connoisseur's comeback". Fortune. Retrieved 2017-08-25.
  14. ^ 'Famous Amos' himself, Wally Amos, talks about his new cookie. KSNV (News). March 12, 2019. Retrieved August 16, 2019.
  15. ^ Kranz, Rachel (2004). African-American Business Leaders and Entrepreneurs. Infobase Publishing. p. 9. ISBN 9781438107790 – via Google Books.
  16. ^ "Son of 'Famous Amos' Cookie Maker Mixing His Own Batch of Blues and Soul". Memphis Daily News. Retrieved 2018-12-22.
  17. ^ "Famous Amos gives cookie business another try". Daily Herald. 2014-06-17. Retrieved 2019-07-24.
  18. ^ "No longer famous, Wally Amos still bakes sweet treats". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2018-12-22.
  19. ^ a b Rhymes, Shemika (2018-11-26). "Famous Amos Creator Lives Near Charlotte as He Plans Next Venture". www.charlottemagazine.com. Retrieved 2019-07-23.
  20. ^ a b The Great Cookie Comeback: Re-Baking Wally Amos. Content Media Group. 2018.
  21. ^ a b Kell, John (June 26, 2014). "A cookie connoisseur's comeback". Fortune.
  22. ^ a b The Great Cookie Comeback: Re-Baking Wally Amos. Content Media Group. May 2018.
  23. ^ The Jeffersons: Season 7 - Rotten Tomatoes, retrieved 2018-12-22
  24. ^ "Biography | TV Guide". TVGuide.com. Retrieved 2018-12-22.
  25. ^ "Shark Tank: The Cookie Kahuna, from Famous Amos Creator, Crumbles in the Tank, Fails to Get A Deal". Business 2 Community. Retrieved 2018-01-09.
  26. ^ "Shark Tank - Cookie Legend Wally Amos Pitches New Cookie Kahuna Brand - Chew Boom". Chew Boom. 2016-10-05. Retrieved 2018-01-09.

External links[edit]