Friday, September 28, 2012

Scatman Crothers

Although his name at times appeared pretty far down on the credits, Scatman Crothers managed to give memorable performances in often very small roles. Maybe it was his name, or his energy or his interesting characters; whatever the reason this man was noticed when he was on the screen.

He started as a nightclub "scat" singer and he appeared to transition seamlessly into a career in movies and television. Some of his best work combined both acting and singing as is evident in the opening credits of Ralph Bakshi's Coonskin and as Fred Sanford's friend, Bow Legs, in a Sandford and Son episode entitled The Stand-In.


Scatman Crothers worked fairly steady throughout the 1960's and '70's and was seen and noticed in everything from The Shining  to Black Belt Jones. At the time, many people were familiar with his name and his talents, but today, with the exception of the baby boomers, he seems to be mostly forgotten.

Thanks to DVD's and sites like Netflix and Hulu, a lot of his work is out there for all to discover. And when you do, you'll understand why Scatman Crothers is Not Very Famous...but should be.

4 comments:

  1. Good call! Scatman was a full range actor with plenty of depth. He was a Hollywood "triple threat" before the term was coined - he could sing, dance, and act. He was a regular scene stealer too, and I don't think he could help it.

    A memorable performance: Scatman once played a character known as "Ham Bone" in an episode of The Love Boat. (His character had a proper name, but I can't remember it.) As I recall (I was 10 or 12 when I saw it), he gave an emotional performance as an old ex-Vaudeville(?) singer/comic who had to explain to a young, proud, African-American, professional type of the 1970s why he played a rather foolish and self-deprecating character onstage. At the time I found it very moving, and I felt like I had learned something.

    And of course, we can't forget that Scatman was also the voice of my favorite Saturday morning cartoon character of the time, Hong Kong Phooey!

    Keep up the awesome work!

    Don (DCS)

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    1. PS.
      His singing in the opening sequence of Coonskin was awesome! It took me a while to figure out who's voice it was because I'd never heard Scatman sing anything so edgy or with such intensity!
      Don

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  2. Thanks, Don. Scatman Crothers was certainly one of a kind. Hollywood could sure use him right now.

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  3. Remember he was also on "Chico and the man" in the 70's

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