|Also Known As: ||
||February 28, 1977
||September 18, 1905
||Cause of Death:
||congestive heart failure
||Oakland, California, USA
RATE AND COMMENT
Reputedly his raspy voice was the result of a strain on his vocal chords suffered when he was a 12-year-old child hawking newspapers
Joined an all-black revue at age 14; eventually played the Roxy, Cotton Club and Apollo in Harlem and appeared in vaudeville
Film debut, "No Place to Go/Her Primitive Mate"
Performed in vaudeville as a song-and-dance team with his brother Cornelius (dates approximate)
First speaking part in films, "What Price Hollywood?"
Had first dramatic role in "Green Pastures"
Cast in bit role as a Pullman porter on Jack Benny's radio program; Benny hired him to play the valet Rochester Van Jones
Acted on screen with Benny in "Buck Benny Rides Again"
Played rare leading role in features in Vincente Minnelli's all-black cast musical, "Cabin in the Sky"
Film "Brewster's Millions" was banned in Memphis as "inimical to the friendly relations between the races" because it portrayed "too much social equality and racial mixture"
Toured Europe with Benny
Reprised role of Noah in TV adaptation of "Green Pastures"
Returned to films in "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad World"; final feature appearance
Attempted comeback with nightclub act in Houston which led to being cast in Broadway revival of "Good News"; forced to resign due to bad health
Had cataract operations in mid-1970s