Willie Best

Willie Best
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia William "Willie" Best (May 27, 1916 – February 27, 1962), sometimes known as Sleep n' Eat, was an American television and film actor. Best was one of the first African-American film actors and comedians to become well known. In the 21st century, his work, like that of Stepin Fetchit, is sometimes reviled because he was often called upon to play stereotypically lazy, illiterate, and/or simple-minded characters in films. Of the 124 films he appeared in, he received screen credit in at least 77, an unusual feat for an African-American bit player. Willie Best appeared in more than one hundred films of the 1930s and 1940s. Although several sources state that for years he was billed only as "Sleep n' Eat", Best received credit under this moniker instead of his real name in only six movies: his first film as a bit player (Harold Lloyd's Feet First) and in Up Pops the Devil (1931), The Monster Walks (1932), Kentucky Kernels and West of the Pecos (both 1934), and Murder on a Honeymoon (1935). He thereafter usually received credit as "Willie Best" or "William Best". Best was first loved as a great clown, then later in the 20th century reviled and pitied, before being forgotten in the history of film. Hal Roach called him one of the greatest talents he had ever met. Comedian Bob Hope similarly acclaimed him as "the best actor I know", while the two were working together in 1940 on The Ghost Breakers. As a supporting actor, Best, like many black actors of his era, was regularly cast in domestic worker or service-oriented roles (though a few times he played the role echoing his previous occupation as a private chauffeur). He was often seen making a brief comic turn as a hotel, airline or train porter, as well as an elevator operator, custodian, butler, valet, waiter, deliveryman, and at least once as a launch pilot (in the 1939 movie Mr. Moto in Danger Island). Willie Best received screen credit most of the time, which was unusual for "bit players"; most in the 1930s and '40s were not accorded due credit. This also happened to white actors in small roles, but black actors were not credited even when their roles were larger. In more than 80 of his movies, he was given a proper character name (as opposed to simple descriptions such as "room service waiter" or "shoe-shine boy"), beginning with his second film. Best played "Chattanooga Brown" in two Charlie Chan films—The Red Dragon in 1945 and Dangerous Money in 1946. He also played the character of "Hipp" in three of RKO’s six Scattergood Baines films with Guy Kibbee: Scattergood Baines (1941), Scattergood Survives a Murder (1942), and Cinderella Swings It in 1943. (Actor Paul White, who played a young version of Best’s "Hipp" in the first film, went on to play "Hipp" in the next three films. Best returned to the role in the last two.) After a drug arrest ended his film career, he worked in television for a while and became known to early TV audiences as Charlie, the elevator operator on CBS's My Little Margie, from 1953 to 1955. He also played Willie, the house servant/handyman and close friend of the title character of ABC’s The Trouble with Father, for its entire run from 1950 to 1955.
Name Willie Best
Also Known As William Best, Sleep 'n' Eat, Sleep 'n Eat, Sleep n' Eat
Birthday 1913-05-27
Deathday 1962-11-27
Gender Male
IMDB Willie Best profile on IMDB
Place of Birth Sunflower, Mississippi, USA
As: Porter
1938-11-30
Blondie...
As: Algernon
1941-01-25
High Sierra...
As: Janitor
1930-11-08
Feet First...
As: Alex
1940-06-21
The Ghost Breakers...
As: Dizzy Memphis (uncre
1934-06-01
Little Miss Marker...
As: Waiter
1942-08-07
A-Haunting We Will G...
As: James Henry
1935-11-22
The Littlest Rebel...
As: Chattanooga Brown
1945-08-01
Charlie Chan in The ...
As: Chattanooga Brown
1946-10-12
Dangerous Money...
As: 'High-Pockets'
1936-04-17
Murder on a Bridle P...
As: Apollo Johnson
1939-06-17
Nancy Drew... Troubl...
As: Bub Wellington
1941-08-23
Highway West...
As: Clarence
1941-09-06
The Smiling Ghost...
As: Eustis the Chauffeur
1942-11-07
The Hidden Hand...
As: Willie (as Sleep 'n'
1935-02-22
Murder on a Honeymoo...
As: Second Idea Man
1943-04-09
Cabin in the Sky...
As: Shadrach
1946-01-19
The Face of Marble...
As: Samuel
1941-10-10
Nothing But the Trut...
As: Euclid White Brown
1942-05-17
Whispering Ghosts...
As: Jo-Mo
1942-05-30
Juke Girl...
As: Sam
1942-06-01
Maisie Gets Her Man...
As: Sunshine
1942-08-18
Busses Roar...
As: Lucille, Colonial Au
1945-06-09
Pillow to Post...
As: Porter (uncredited)
1945-11-29
She Wouldn't Say Yes...
As: Woodrow
1944-08-05
The Girl Who Dared...
As: Willie
1941-02-18
Road Show...
As: George
1941-04-11
The Lady from Cheyen...
As: Warts, Martin's mans
1937-07-16
Super-Sleuth...
As: Noah
1936-09-18
Down The Stretch...
As: Arnold
1941-07-05
Kisses for Breakfast...
As: Joe
1946-05-08
The Bride Wore Boots...
As: Andrew
1940-11-01
Who Killed Aunt Magg...
As: Flash
1945-04-20
The Monster and the ...
As: George Washington Jo
1940-08-17
Money and the Woman...
As: Jughead
1938-04-01
Goodbye Broadway...
As: George
1938-03-04
Merrily We Live...
As: Joshua
1938-02-12
Gold Is Where You Fi...
As: Bootblack
1937-06-04
Meet the Missus...
As: Sam
1937-10-08
Saturday's Heroes...
As: Jackson
1947-08-16
The Red Stallion...
As: McTavish
1937-10-01
The Lady Fights Back...
As: Men's Room Attendant
1943-01-15
The Powers Girl...
As: George
1938-09-22
Youth Takes a Fling...
As: Airport Porter
1937-01-08
We Who Are About to ...
As: Steward (uncredited)
1943-06-23
Dixie...
As: Willie Shelley
1945-11-23
Hold That Blonde!...
As: Elevator Operator
1935-11-23
To Beat the Band...
As: Laundryman
1931-05-19
Up Pops the Devil...
As: Jasper - Elevator Op
1938-01-14
Everybody's Doing It...
As: Redcap (uncredited)
1939-10-20
At the Circus...
As: Eph
1936-04-03
Two in Revolt...
As: Porter on Train
1938-11-11
Spring Madness...
As: Catfish
1936-10-02
Mummy's Boys...
As: Sleepy
1935-06-07
The Nitwits...
As: Algernon, Simon's Bu
1939-03-10
The Saint Strikes Ba...
As: Launch Pilot
1939-04-07
Mr. Moto in Danger I...
As: Chimney Sweep
1939-07-21
Way Down South...
As: Driver
1939-07-07
Mr. Moto Takes a Vac...
As: Bunny - the Janitor
1939-09-08
Blackmail...
As: Art, the Elevator Op
1939-12-22
Slightly Honorable...
As: Smokie
1936-07-10
The Bride Walks Out...
As: Sam, the Janitor
1935-08-09
Jalna...
As: Brass
1937-01-29
Racing Lady...
As: Airline Porter
1937-04-30
You Can't Buy Luck...
As: Black Pedestrian
1936-12-18
Night Waitress...
As: Train Porter (uncred
1938-01-07
Crashing Hollywood...
As: George, the Elevator
1930-04-05
Ladies of Leisure...
As: Newsboy
1940-02-29
Blondie on a Budget...
As: Sambo
1940-02-01
I Take This Woman...
As: Porter on Train
1947-02-13
Suddenly It's Spring...
As: Jonah (as Sleep 'n'
1934-12-27
West of the Pecos...
As: Drowsy
1936-06-30
Thank You, Jeeves!...
As: Men's Room Attendant
1944-10-09
The Mark of the Whis...
As: Mo' Rum (uncredited)
1944-06-15
Home in Indiana...
As: Himself (archive foo
1941-11-14
Breakdowns of 1941...
As: Apollo
1935-08-20
Hot Tip...
As: Pompey
1935-06-27
The Arizonian...
As: Henry
1936-12-11
General Spanky...
As: Train Porter
1938-05-10
Vivacious Lady...
As: Willie, Stable Boy
1951-10-14
South of Caliente...
As: Excitement
1936-03-20
Silly Billies...
As: Exodus (as Sleep n'
1932-02-10
The Monster Walks...
As: Bones
1943-09-10
The Kansan...
As: Charlie (archive foo
1962-12-04
Harold Lloyd's World...
As: Unknown
2004-01-01
TV in Black: The Fir...
As: Hannibal
1938-09-30
Straight, Place and ...
As: (archive footage)
1975-08-06
Brother, Can You Spa...
As: Billy Slocum

Waterfront...
As: Unknown
1950-10-21
The Stu Erwin Show...
As: Unknown
1951-06-07
Racket Squad...
As: Unknown
1952-06-16
My Little Margie...