Willie Best

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Age: 100
Birthplace:

Along with Stepin Fetchit and Mantan Moreland, he typified Hollywood's racist views of African Americans during the 1930s and 1940s. For years he was known only by the name of the character he played, Sleep 'n Eat, a lazy, easily-frightened nitwit. Best was eventually billed under his own name but his roles never rose above the menial. His 120 films include "Little Miss Marker" (1934), "The Littlest Rebel" (1935), "Blondie" (1938), "High Sierra" (1941), "Cabin in the Sky" (1943), and "South of Caliente" (1951). Best was born in Sunflower, Mississippi. Some sources list 1913 as the year of his birth. As a teenager he performed with a Southern California song-and-dance troupe and made his screen debut in "Feet First" (1930). Bob Hope, who worked with him in "The Ghost Breakers" (1940), called Best "one of the finest actors I know", and given the opportunity he could have become a top-rank comedian. A 1950 drug bust killed his movie career, but producer Hal Roach kept him busy as a semi-regular on the TV programs "The Stu Erwin Show", "My Little Margie", and "Waterfront". Always a controversial figure among black critics, Best was vilified by civil rights activists in the late 1950s and he withdrew from show business. He died in obscurity at the Motion Picture Country Home.

Gallery

 
Movie Character Year
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U1jaoea353thivi7c2hokzaeqmg Down The Stretch Noah 1936
Xlu9w4qccjkdrvldskixx6htiyv Blondie Porter 1938
Cqtwdv9irq8l2szsyzzajpzfvyu High Sierra Algernon 1941
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Ck4brhkimdlwu5fu1qdobgpuosa Maisie Gets Her Man Sam 1942
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