Benjamin Sherman “Scatman”Crothers (May 23, 1910– November 22, 1986), was a lifelong showman. His six-decade career saw him drumming in speakeasies, singing on the radio during its golden age, jumping to roles in movies and on TV, and finding an unexpected talent for cartoon voice-over work late in his life. He first appeared on the silver screen in 1935, later making his official debut in the movie “Meet Me at the Fair” (1953).
A Shining Career
In 1948 he was the first African American artist to obtain a regular role in a television show (”Dixie Showboat”). Crothers became best 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), the latter of which earned him the Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor. He provided the voices of Meadowlark Lemon in the Harlem Globetrotters animated TV series, Jazz the Autobot in “The Transformers” television series and “The Transformers: The Movie” (1986), the title character in comic series “Hong Kong Phooey” and Scat Cat in the animated Disney film “The Aristocats” (1972).
Crothers died of pneumonia on November 22, 1986, at his home in Van Nuys, Los Angeles, California at age 76, and was survived by his wife of 49 years, Helen, and a daughter, Donna Daniels of Los Angeles.