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Monday, February 23, 2009

Willie Best: no longer forgotten

Imagine you’re a busy working actor known for your professionalism, comic ability and dedication. Now imagine that you are asked over and over to play the same type of role in every film: a lazy, cowardly simpleton. I suppose you could say: “who cares? I’ll cry all the way to the bank!” …well perhaps…but what if after 25 years of film work you were suddenly ostracized and viewed as a sell-out and an embarrassment to your people?

That is the story of black actor Willie Best – who at the start of his career was promoted by racist studio heads as “Sleep ‘n’ Eat” (the successor to “Stepin Fetchit”). Best was a gifted performer who wanted to act in motion pictures, but in his era of Hollywood he was damned if he did - and damned if he didn’t.

Read more about Willie at Celluloid Slammer.