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Willie Best

One of the hard-working, unappreciated Negro actors of Hollywood's "Golden Era" who produced good work with what he was given. He starred alongside some of film's great comedians including the Marx Brothers, Bob Hope, Laurel and Hardy and three films with Shirley Temple. In addition to being a talented comedian and character actor, Best was also a musician/song writer. After a drug arrest ended his film career, he worked in television for a while before retiring to obscurity. He passed away at the Motion Picture Country Home and is buried in North Hollywood, California. Best was one of the victims of the racist attitudes of the era, never given the opportunity to fully flex his comedic muscle beyond the stereotyped porter and janitor roles that dominated his career. Sadly he was also a victim of backlash for these same roles during the Civil Rights movement and it is hard to watch many of his films without cringing, despite his ability. Bob Hope referred to Best, as his comedic co-star in The Ghost Breakers (1940), as one of the finest talents he had ever worked with. In his earliest film appearances, in the early 1930s, if he was given screen credit he was billed as "Sleep 'n' Eat". He came to Hollywood serving as a chauffeur for a Mississippi white couple on vacation, and decided to stay and seek a career in show business.

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May 27, 1913 In Sunflower, Mississippi, USA
Movie/TV Credits:
First Appeared:
In the movie Ladies of Leisure 1930-04-05
Latest Project:
Series Waterfront 2019
Known For
Poster of Suddenly It's Spring
Poster of Busses Roar
Poster of Hot Tip
Poster of Murder on a Honeymoon
Series Waterfront Billy Slocum 2019
Movie Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? (archive footage) 1975-08-06
Movie Harold Lloyd's World of Comedy Charlie (archive footage) 1962-12-04
Series My Little Margie 1952-06-16
Series Racket Squad Unknown 1951-06-07
Movie South of Caliente Willie, Stable Boy 1951-10-14
Series The Stu Erwin Show 1950-10-21
Movie Half Past Midnight Andy Jones 1948-03-01
Movie The Shanghai Chest Custodian (uncredited) 1948-07-11
Movie Suddenly It's Spring Porter on Train 1947-02-13
Movie The Red Stallion Jackson 1947-08-16
Movie Dangerous Money Chattanooga Brown 1946-10-12
Movie The Face of Marble Shadrach 1946-01-19
Movie The Bride Wore Boots Joe 1946-06-05
Movie The Monster and the Ape Flash 1945-04-20
Movie Pillow to Post Lucille, Colonial Auto Court Porter 1945-06-09
Movie Hold That Blonde! Willie Shelley 1945-11-23
Movie The Red Dragon Chattanooga Brown 1945-08-01
Movie She Wouldn't Say Yes Porter (uncredited) 1945-11-29
Movie The Adventures of Mark Twain Butler 1944-05-03
Movie Home in Indiana Mo' Rum (uncredited) 1944-06-15
Movie The Mark of the Whistler Men's Room Attendant (uncredited) 1944-10-09
Movie The Girl Who Dared Woodrow 1944-08-05
Movie The Powers Girl Men's Room Attendant 1943-01-15
Movie Cabin in the Sky Second Idea Man 1943-04-09
Movie Dixie Steward (uncredited) 1943-06-23
Movie The Kansan Bones 1943-09-10
Movie Juke Girl Jo-Mo 1942-05-30
Movie Maisie Gets Her Man Sam 1942-06-01
Movie Whispering Ghosts Euclid White Brown 1942-05-17
Movie A-Haunting We Will Go Waiter 1942-08-07
Movie The Hidden Hand Eustis the Chauffeur 1942-11-07
Movie Busses Roar Sunshine 1942-08-18
Movie Road Show Willie 1941-02-18
Movie High Sierra Algernon 1941-01-23
Movie The Lady from Cheyenne George 1941-04-11
Movie Flight from Destiny George 1941-02-08
Movie Highway West Bub Wellington 1941-08-07
Movie Breakdowns of 1941 Himself (archive footage) (uncredited) 1941-11-14
Movie Kisses for Breakfast Arnold 1941-07-05
Movie Nothing But the Truth Samuel 1941-10-10
Movie The Smiling Ghost Clarence 1941-09-06
Movie Blondie on a Budget Newsboy (uncredited) 1940-02-29
Movie The Ghost Breakers Alex 1940-06-21
Movie I Take This Woman Sambo 1940-02-01
Movie Who Killed Aunt Maggie? Andrew 1940-11-01
Movie Money and the Woman George Washington Jones 1940-08-17
Movie Nancy Drew... Trouble Shooter Apollo Johnson 1939-06-17
Movie Mr. Moto in Danger Island Launch Pilot 1939-04-07
Movie The Saint Strikes Back Algernon, Simon's Butler (Uncredited) 1939-03-10
Movie Way Down South Chimney Sweep 1939-07-21
Movie Mr. Moto Takes a Vacation Driver 1939-07-07
Movie Slightly Honorable Art, Elevator Operator 1939-12-22
Movie At the Circus Redcap (uncredited) 1939-10-20
Movie Private Detective Norton's Valet 1939-12-09
Movie Blackmail Bunny - the Janitor 1939-09-08
Movie Gold Is Where You Find It Joshua 1938-02-12
Movie Everybody's Doing It Jasper - Elevator Operator 1938-01-14
Movie Crashing Hollywood Train Porter (uncredited) 1938-01-07
Movie Merrily We Live George 1938-03-04
Movie Spring Madness Porter on Train 1938-11-11
Movie Goodbye Broadway Jughead 1938-04-01
Movie Youth Takes a Fling George 1938-09-22
Movie Straight, Place and Show Hannibal 1938-09-30
Movie Vivacious Lady Train Porter 1938-05-13
Movie Meet the Missus Bootblack 1937-06-04
Movie We Who Are About to Die Airport Porter 1937-01-08
Movie Racing Lady Brass 1937-01-12
Movie You Can't Buy Luck Airline Porter 1937-04-30
Movie Saturday's Heroes Sam 1937-10-08
Movie Super-Sleuth Warts, Martin's manservant 1937-07-16
Movie The Lady Fights Back McTavish 1937-10-01
Movie Murder on a Bridle Path 'High-Pockets' 1936-04-17
Movie Two in Revolt Eph 1936-04-03
Movie Silly Billies Excitement 1936-03-20
Movie The Bride Walks Out Smokie 1936-07-10
Movie Down the Stretch Noah 1936-09-18
Movie Night Waitress Black Pedestrian 1936-12-18
Movie Thank You, Jeeves! Drowsy 1936-10-04
Movie General Spanky Henry 1936-12-11
Movie Mummy's Boys Catfish 1936-10-02
Movie The Nitwits Sleepy 1935-06-07
Movie Murder on a Honeymoon Willie 1935-02-22
Movie The Arizonian Pompey 1935-06-27
Movie The Littlest Rebel James Henry 1935-12-27
Movie To Beat the Band Elevator Operator 1935-11-23
Movie Hot Tip Apollo 1935-08-20
Movie Jalna Sam 1935-08-09
Movie Little Miss Marker Dizzy Memphis (uncredited) 1934-06-01
Movie West of the Pecos Jonah (as Sleep 'n' Eat) 1934-12-27
Movie The Monster Walks Exodus (as Sleep n' Eat) 1932-02-10
Movie Up Pops the Devil Laundryman 1931-05-19
Movie Ladies of Leisure George (uncredited) 1930-04-05
Movie Feet First Janitor 1930-11-08
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