SCATMAN by Jim Haskins


An Authorized Biography of Scatman Crothers
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 Scatman Crothers offers Haskins one of the liveliest of the writer's 50 or so books (Richard Pryor, Mr. Bojangles, Queen of the Blues: The Story of Dinah Washington, etc.). Crothers had a long career as a drummer, scat singer, and bandleader before moving into acting. Some readers may remember him best for his role as the paranormal black cook in Stanley Kubrick's The Shining, who explains the title's meaning and later tries to save little Danny from ax-wielding Jack Nicholson. When Crothers, a very longtime weed smoker, met Nicholson on the London set for the Kubrick movie, Nicholson, another herbalist, said, ``Well, ol' buddy, we're about to make our fourth classic together!'' Crothers had played the orderly who lets the inmates have their party in Nicholson's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and long roles as a black gangster in The King of Marvin Gardens and The Fortune, both Nicholson features; Crothers felt that Nicholson took an interest in him. Kubrick, ever the perfectionist, had Nicholson ax 68-year- old Crothers again and again: ``Somebody said something about me being too old to fall down that many times, and Nicholson jumps in and says, `Who says my man's too old to fall down? Why, he can fall down 50 or 60 times if he has to.' '' Crothers was born in Terre Haute as Sherman Crothers, ``quitulated'' from high school to play in a band, was later known as the man with ``the shiniest mouth in town.'' He married Helen Sullivan, a Hungarian white woman, ``for contrast,'' and the marriage lasted until his death 48 years later. Much of his story takes place in Chicago and midwestern speak- easies, with gangsters as heavy tippers for Scatman's bands. In later years he starred widely on TV, his biggest role being three years with Chico and the Man. He died of cancer in 1986. Warm and full of good spirits. (Twenty-four b&w photographs- -not seen.)

Pub Date: Sept. 20th, 1991
ISBN: 0-688-08521-0
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1991