Wallace “Wally” Amos was the first black talent agent with the William Morris Agency of New York in 1962. He represented major music legends like Diana Ross & the Supremes, Marvin Gaye, Sam Cooke and Simon & Garfunkel. To attract clients, he sent them homemade cookies using a famous family recipe.
Wally Amos was born in 1936 in Tallahassee, Florida. He lived with his aunt, Della Bryant, who raised him after his parents’ separation. It was aunt Della who brought the famous chocolate chip and pecan cookie recipe to life. Amos appreciated the art of baking and enrolled in a vocational high school for culinary arts for two years. That experience was followed by four years in the U.S. Air Force. Amos returned to New York City, where he found work in the mailroom at William Morris.
After being promoted and representing some of the biggest acts known to music, Amos was at the top of his game. As a successful agent, he was promoted to the head of the agency’s Rock n ‘Roll department. He felt the need to move to Los Angeles to spread his wings in the industry under his own company. Unfortunately, Amos had not been equipped with business savvy, something desperately needed to make his personal management company thrive.
After moving to Los Angeles in the late 1960’s, Amos switched his focus to his love of baking cookies. He wanted his family recipe to go public. So, with the help of the same music artists he helped make famous, he opened Famous Amos Cookies in 1975 with a $25,000 investment. The brand grew quickly and Amos opened several key locations then was picked up by Bloomingdales Department store. But within ten years, Amos’ lack of business management skills led to the continuous sale of Famous Amos. His brand name diminished after he sold Famous Amos to Shansby Group. After the sale, Amos attempted to start the Chip & Cookie company using his famous recipe, but was sued by Shansby for violating his contract. Amos tried again with Uncle Noname Cookies in 1992.
In 1998, Famous Amos was purchased by Keebler. They brought the cookie maker back as the face and spokesperson of the Famous Amos brand. Since then, Wally Amos has moved to Kailua, Hawaii, where he continues to sell the Chip & Cookie brand cookies in a Hawaiian storefront along with his line of Uncle Wally’s Family of Muffins which are shipped to over 5,000 stores in the United States. He also works as a motivational speaker and spokesman for Literacy Volunteers of America.
His old Famous Amos Panama Hat is now at the Smithsonian Museum.