Crothers, Scatman

Crothers, Scatman
(May 23, 1910–November 22, 1986)
   While still in high school, Benjamin Sherman Crothers learned to sing and taught himself to play drums and guitar in local speakeasies in his home state of Indiana. He formed his own band in the 1930s, adopting the stage name “Scatman” in 1932 as a result of auditioning for a radio show in Dayton, Ohio, as a drummer, singer, and guitarist. The show’s director said that Crothers needed a snappy new name, so Crothers told him: “Call me Scatman, because I do a lot of scat singing. ” His band toured regionally throughout the Midwest and eventually moved to Los Angeles in 1948. There, Crothers became the first black person on Los Angeles television, in a show called Dixie Showboat (1948). After he costarred with Dan Dailey in Douglas Sirk’s Meet Me at the Fair (1953), Crothers landed a series of film and television roles, establishing himself as a solid character actor.
   Prior to THE SHINING, Scatman Crothers had worked with JACK NICHOLSON on three other pictures: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975), The Fortune (1975), and The King of Marvin Gardens (1972). Crothers’s other notable film credits include STEVEN SPIELBERG’s segment of Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983); The Shootist (1976); Hello, Dolly! (1969); The Aristocats (1970; voice of “Scat Cat”); and Bronco Billy (1980). As Dick Hallorann in The Shining, Crothers endured Kubrick’s 148 takes of the seven-minute scene between Hallorann and Danny (DANNY LLOYD) in the kitchen of the Overlook Hotel. Kubrick’s methods were tough on the 69-year-old veteran actor. After 40 grueling takes of the shot in which Jack kills Hallorann with an axe, Nicholson urged Kubrick to ease up, for the sake of Crothers’s health.
   ■ “Scatman Crothers” (obituary), Variety, November 26, 1986, p. 150.

The Encyclopedia of Stanley Kubrick. . 2002.

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