BEST, Willie

(1913–1962)
   Born in Mississippi, Willie Best was an African American actor in Westerns of the pre–civil rights era. As with Fred Toones and Stepin Fetchit, Best was cast exclusively as the comic Negro in several films. He was often billed as “Sleep ’n’ Eat.” A typical Best film is The Kansan (1943) in which he played Bones, a hotel handyman and porter who, stereotypically, is slow moving, lazy, and cowardly. At one point the villains force his carriage to stop, and Best is pulled out moaning and shaking. His last film, a Western, was South of Caliente (1951).

Historical Dictionary of Westerns in Cinema. . 2012.

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