SCATMAN CROTHERS Biography - Actors and Actresses


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Name: Benjamin Sherman Crothers                                                           
Born: 23 May 1910 Terre Haute, Indiana                                                     
Died: 22 November 1986 Van Nuys, California                                               
Benjamin Sherman "Scatman" Crothers (May 23, 1910 - November 22, 1986) 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, the voice of the Autobot Jazz in             
the Transformers animated series, and as Dick Hallorann in The Shining in 1980.           
He was the voice of Meadowlark Lemon in the animated TV version of The Harlem             
Globetrotters and as the title character in Hong Kong Phooey both produced by             
Crothers was born in Terre Haute, Indiana. He got the name Scatman when he                 
auditioned for a radio show in 1932 at the former WSMK (now WING) in Dayton,               
Ohio. The director didn't think his given name was catchy enough, so Crothers             
told the director to call him Scat Man because of his talent at scat singing. 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. (Crothers should not be confused with Scatman John, who had the hit "Scatman"     
in 1995.)                                                                                 
Crothers started his musical career as a 15-year-old drummer in a speakeasy band           
in his home town of Terre Haute, Indiana. He played a variety of instruments               
including drums and guitar on jazz club band circuits in his early days as an             
entertainer. He formed his own band in the 1930s and finally traveled to                   
California with the band in 1948.                                                         
He decided to try acting and made his official debut in the movie Meet Me At The           
Fair (1953). He worked in both the movies and television, often taking bit parts.         
He also made musical shorts and played drums with Slim Gaillard in the mid 1940s.         
Good friends with Jack Nicholson, he appeared in four of his films: The King of           
Marvin Gardens (1972), The Fortune (1975), One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)         
and The Shining (1980). His later film appearances included the role of a train           
conductor in Silver Streak (1976), as a ringmaster of a struggling wild west               
show in Bronco Billy (1980) and finally, as an angel in Two of a Kind (1983).             
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 voiceover work on several animated           
series, beginning with his voicework in Disney's The Aristocats. In the 70s,               
fans recognized his voice as Hong Kong Phooey, and the voice of Meadowlark Lemon           
in the Harlem Globetrotters cartoon series. He made guest appearances on many             
popular shows, including Bewitched in 1971, Ironside in 1973, Kolchak: The Night           
Stalker and Sanford and Son in 1974 and Magnum P.I. in 1980.                               
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 guitar. Crothers starred in three short-lived 1980s                 
television series: One of the Boys (1982), Casablanca (1983), and Morningstar/Eveningstar 
(1986). He also performed the voice of Jazz on Transformers (1984-1986) until             
the movie.                                                                                 
Though of all television characters that he played, he was most noted for his             
supporting role on the sitcom Chico and the Man.                                           
Crothers married Helen Sullivan in 1937 and had one daughter, Donna, in 1949. In           
1985, he developed a malignant tumor behind his left lung. He tried to work               
through the illness, but the inoperable tumor spread to his esophagus in 1986.             
He died of pneumonia brought on by the lung cancer on November 22, 1986 in Van             
Nuys, California, USA, at 76 years of age.                                                 
He is buried next to his wife Helen (1918-1997) in the Forest Lawn, Hollywood             
Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles, California