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1950s / Dudley Dickerson
Like most African-American performers of his generation, comic actor Dudley Dickerson played more than his fair share of Pullman porters, bell-boys, waiters, and shoe-shine boys. But from the late '30s until the mid-'50s, Dickerson was the most prominent black actor working in two-reel comedies. Contracted by Columbia's short subject department, the roly-poly supporting comic brought a refreshing energy to his portrayals of, yes, Pullman porters, shoe-shine boys, and the always demeaning "frightened Negro domestic." Closer in type to Mantan Moreland than Stepin Fetchit, Dickerson was especially good opposite Charley Chase in His Bridal Fright (1940) and the Three Stooges in A-Plumbing We Will Go (1940). Dickerson played a Pullman porter once again in his final film The Alligator People (1959), after which he concentrated on television work. The veteran comic died of cerebral thrombosis.