Thursday, November 22, 2018

"The Shining" Actor & Entertainer Scatman Crothers 1986 Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills

Benjamin Sherman Crothers (May 23, 1910 – November 22, 1986),[1] known as Scatman Crothers, was an American actor, singer, dancer and musician known for his work as Louie the Garbage Man on the TV show Chico and the Man and as Dick Hallorann in Stanley Kubrick's The Shining (1980).

He was also a prolific voiceover artist, and provided the voices of Meadowlark Lemon in the Harlem Globetrotters' animated TV series, Jazz the Autobot in The Transformers and The Transformers: The Movie (1986), the title character in Hong Kong Phooey and Scat Cat in the animated Disney film The Aristocats (1970).

Early life

Crothers was born in 1910 in Terre Haute, Indiana, the son of Fredonia Lewis and Benjamin Crothers.[2][3] He obtained the name Scatman when he auditioned for a radio show in 1932 at the former WSMK (now WING) in Dayton, Ohio. The director did not think his given name seemed catchy enough, so Crothers devised the handle Scat Man, although this talent, scat singing, would develop later. He continued to enjoy this talent throughout his career, even teaching scat singing to college students. Later, the nickname was condensed to Scatman by Arthur Godfrey. In his early career, he also associated with many Cleveland-based acts and frequently played on the scene in Ohio.


Crothers started his musical career as a 15-year-old drummer in a speakeasy band in his home town of Terre Haute. He played a variety of instruments, including drums and guitar, on jazz club band circuits in his early days as an entertainer. Among the people for whom he performed was the notorious gangster, Al Capone. Crothers formed his own band in the 1930s and traveled to Oakland, California, with the band in 1948. He played piano at the Port O' Call and Walt's 405 Club. He also appeared in a 1950 episode of The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Radio Program performing "Chattanoogie Shoe Shine Boy" with Harris, who introduced him as Scatman Roth. He left Oakland to stay in Los Angeles in 1952.


Crothers made his official debut in the movie Meet Me at the Fair (1953). He worked in both movies and television, often taking bit parts. He also made musical shorts and played drums with Slim Gaillard in the mid-1940s. 

Crothers then landed a major supporting role in the 1970 animated film The Aristocats from Walt Disney Productions, providing the voice of "Scat Cat." He also performed the film's theme song "Ev'rybody Wants to be a Cat." 

Good friends with Jack Nicholson, he appeared in four of his films: The King of Marvin Gardens (1972), The Fortune, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975), and The Shining (1980). 

His later film appearances included the role of a wizened fable-telling convict in the animated film Coonskin (1975), as a train porter in Silver Streak (1976), as a liveryman in The Shootist (1976), as a ringmaster of a struggling wild west show in Bronco Billy (1980), the Baseball coach and school teacher in Zapped! (1982), an angel in Two of a Kind (1983) and finally Mr. Bloom, a magician in the guise of an old man in the "Kick the Can" segment of Twilight Zone: The Movie. Crothers reprised his role as the Autobot warrior Jazz in The Transformers: The Movie.

Some sources erroneously list him as a dancer in the Duke Ellington short, Symphony in Black (1935), who is first seen dancing with a woman in his apartment before taking her out. Later, he encounters his jilted lover, played by the also uncredited Billie Holiday. They briefly have words, he pushes her down and exits with his new girlfriend before her song. This role was actually played by Earl Snakehips Tucker, who also appears at the end of the short.


Even though Crothers worked in television at the beginning of his career, he really came into his own in the medium doing voice-over work on several animated series, beginning as the singing voice for Go Man Van Gogh, "The Wildman of Wildsville," in Bob Clampett's Beany and Cecil cartoons (later taking over the speaking voice from Lord Buckley as well.) In the 1970s, fans recognized his distinctive voice as Hong Kong Phooey, and the voice of Meadowlark Lemon in the Harlem Globetrotters cartoon series. In 1966 an animated special from the Hanna-Barbera studios aired called The New Alice in Wonderland (or What's a Nice Kid Like You Doing in a Place Like This?), a hip take on the Lewis Carroll story that featured Sammy Davis, Jr. as a swingin', beatnik Cheshire Cat; the special was followed up by an audio adaptation for records (on Hanna-Barbera's HB Records label), but with Davis exclusive to the Reprise label, Crothers provided the Cat's record voice, and an even more exuberant spin on the character. Additionally, he made guest appearances on many popular shows, including Dragnet in 1967, Bewitched and McMillan and Wife in 1971, Adam-12 in 1972 (as "George Strothers"), Kojak and Ironside in 1973, Kolchak: The Night Stalker and Sanford and Son in 1974, Starsky and Hutch in 1977, Charlie's Angels and The Love Boat in 1978, Magnum, P.I. in 1980, and Taxi in 1983. Also in 1980, he was on two episodes of Laverne & Shirley as a porter. In the 1980s, he gained a new fanbase, providing the voice of the smooth-talking, music-loving Autobot Jazz on the television series The Transformers.

During his appearance on Sanford and Son he joined Redd Foxx for two musical numbers, one of which was a memorable version of the standard "All of Me,, where he accompanied Foxx on tenor guitar. Crothers starred in three short-lived 1980s television series — One of the Boys (1982), Casablanca (1983), and Morningstar/Eveningstar (1986).

Through all of the television characters that he played, he was most noted for his supporting role as Louie Wilson, the garbage man, on the sitcom Chico and the Man.


Crothers performed on piano and drums in several bands, most notably with bandleader Slim Gaillard. According to the jacket notes of the Let Freedom Sing CD set, Crothers was part of the music group The Ramparts who sang A.C. Bilbrew's "The Death of Emmett Till." He also recorded several solo albums and singles.


A heavy smoker most of his life, Crothers was diagnosed with lung cancer in late 1985, but he kept his condition a secret in order to continue working. The cancer eventually spread to his esophagus by mid 1986, rendering him unable to speak which effectively ended his career. He died of pneumonia on November 22, 1986, at his home in Van Nuys, California, at age 76.

Crothers is buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery, in the Hollywood Hills of Los Angeles.[4] In 1981, Crothers received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his work in the motion picture industry, located at 6712 Hollywood Boulevard.[5][6]


King Cole Trio and Benny Carter Orchestra (1950) (short subject) as Himself
Yes Sir, Mr. Bones (1951) as Scathman
The Return of Gilbert and Sullivan (1952)
Meet Me at the Fair (1953) as Enoch Jones
Surprising Suzie (1953) (short subject)
East of Sumatra (1953) as Baltimore

Walking My Baby Back Home (1953) as Smiley Gordon

Johnny Dark (1954)
Team Berlin (1955) (short subject)
Between Heaven and Hell (1956) as George (uncredited)
The Gift of Love (1958) as Sam the Gardner (uncredited)
Tarzan and the Trappers (1958) as Tyana
Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1958) Episode #4.2 "Don't Interrupt" as Timothy
Alias Jesse James (1959) as the railroad porter (uncredited)
Porgy and Bess (1959) as Crabman
The Sins of Rachel Cade (1961) as Musinga
Lady in a Cage (1964) as the junkyard proprietor's assistant (uncredited)
The Patsy (1964) as the Shoeshine Boy
The Family Jewels (1965) as an airport employee (uncredited)
Three on a Couch (1966) as a jazz band member (uncredited)
Alvarez Kelly (1966) as Bellhop (uncredited)
Hook, Line and Sinker (1969) as a corpse (uncredited)
Hello, Dolly! (1969) as Mr. Jones, a porter (uncredited)
Bloody Mama (1970) as Moses the caretaker
The Great White Hope (1970) as a carnival barker (uncredited)
The Aristocats (1970) as Scat Cat (voice)
Chandler (1971) as Smoke
Lady Sings the Blues (1972) as Big Ben

The King of Marvin Gardens (1972) as Lewis

Detroit 9000 (1973) as Reverend Markham

Slaughter's Big Rip-Off (1973) as Cleveland

Black Belt Jones (1974) as Pop Byrd
Truck Turner (1974) as Duke
Win, Place or Steal (1975) as the Attendant
Linda Lovelace for President (1975) as Super Black
The Fortune (1975) as the Fisherman
Coonskin (1975) as Pappy / Old Man Bone (voice)

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) as Turkle

Friday Foster (1975) as Noble Franklin

Stay Hungry (1976) as William

The Shootist (1976) as Moses Brown

Chesty Anderson, USN (1976) as Ben Benson
Silver Streak (1976) as Ralson
Mean Dog Blues (1978) as Mudcat

The Cheap Detective (1978) as Tinker

Scavenger Hunt (1979) as Sam
Banjo the Woodpile Cat (1979) as Crazy Legs (voice)

The Shining (1980) as Dick Halloran

Bronco Billy (1980) as Doc Lynch

The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island (1981) (made for TV) as Dewey Stevens

Zapped! (1982) as Coach Dexter Jones

Deadly Eyes (1982) as George Foskins
Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983) as Mr. Bloom (segment "Kick the Can")
Two of a Kind (1983) as Earl

The Journey of Natty Gann (1985) as Sherman

Morningstar/Eveningstar (1986) (TV Series) as Excell Dennis
The Transformers: The Movie (1986) as Jazz (voice)
Rock Odyssey (1987) as Jukebox (voice)


The Adventures of Jim Bowie - episode - The Quarantine - Cicero (1957)
Bonanza - episode - The Smiler - Jud (1961)
The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo (1964)
Harlem Globe Trotters - George 'Meadowlark' Lemon (1970-1971)
Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color - Disney on Parade - King Louie (voice, uncredited) (1971)
Bewitched - episode - Three Men and a Witch on a Horse - Handler (1971)
The Lorax - TV special - Singer (voice, uncredited) (1972)
Nichols - episode - Eddie Joe - Jack (1972)
The New Scooby-Doo Movies - episodes - The Ghostly Creep from the Deep/The Loch Ness Mess/Mystery of Haunted Island (1972-1973)
Kojak - episode - The Corrupter - Gaylord Fuller (1973)
Hong Kong Phooey - 16 episodes - Hong Kong Phooey / Penrod 'Penry' Pooch (1974)
Mannix - episode - The Green Man - Mudcat (1974)
The Odd Couple (1970 TV series) - episode - The Subway Show (1974)
McMillan and Wife - episode - Downshift to Danger - Floyd (1974)
Chico and the Man - Louie the Garbage Man (1975)
Sanford and Son - episode - The Stand-In - Bowlegs (1975)
Roots - TV miniseries - Mingo (1977)
Dean Martin Celebrity Roast: Angie Dickinson - TV Special - Himself (1977)
Laff-A-Lympics - Hong Kong Phooey (1977)
CB Bears - Segment title narrator (1977)
The Skatebirds- Scat Cat (1977)
Starsky and Hutch - episode - Long Walk Down a Short Dirt Road - Fireball (1977)
Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels - Additional Voices (1977-1980)
NBC Salutes the 25th Anniversary of the Wonderful World of Disney - TV Movie documentary - Himself (1978)
Charlie's Angels - episode - Angels in Vegas - Jip Baker (1978)
Vega$ - episodes -High Roller and The Usurper - Rosey (1978-1979)
The Super Globetrotters - Nate Branch / Liquid Man (1979)
The Incredible Hulk - episode - My Favorite Magician - Edgar McGee (1979)
Laverne and Shirley - episode - Murder on the Moosejaw Express Part 1 and Part 2 - Porter (1980)
Magnum, P.I. - episode - Lest We Forget - Tickler (1981)
Trollkins - Additional Voices (1981)
The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island - TV Movie - Dewey Stevens (1981)
Jokebook - Main Title Singer (1982)
Benson - episode - In the Red - Rev. Tompkins (1982)

Casablanca - Sam (1983)

Taxi - episode - A Grand Gesture - Walt (1983)
This Is Your Life - episode - Scatman Crothers - Himself (1984)
Paw Paws - Eugene the Genie (1985-1986)
The Wonderful World of Jonathan Winters - Himself (1986)


1. Eagle, Bob; LeBlanc, Eric S. (2013). Blues - A Regional Experience. Santa Barbara: Praeger Publishers. p. 136. ISBN 978-0313344237.
2. "Person Details for Sherman Crothers in household of Ben Crothers, "United States Census, 1920" —". 
3. "Person Details for Benj Crothers, "United States Census, 1910" —". Retrieved 11 June 2015. 4. Hollywood and the Best of Los Angeles
5. "Scatman Crothers | Hollywood Walk of Fame". 
6. "Scatman Crothers - Hollywood Star Walk - Los Angeles Times". 

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