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This Day In History: May 23rd
Benjamin Sherman Crothers, better known by his stage name of Scatman, began his career auditioning for a radio show in Ohio during the 1930s. Crothers was an actor, singer, dancer and musician widely known for his role in the TV show Chico and the Man and the 1980 film, The Shining.
Crothers was born on May 23, 1910, in Terre Haute, Indiana. At the age of 14, Crothers developed his interest in musical instruments by teaching himself how to play the drums and guitar, as well as practicing scat-style singing. He began his musical career at the age of 15 by playing the drums in a speakeasy band in his hometown. He was not paid for his performances, but he was able to survive off of the tips he received. He performed around the jazz club band circuit and even created his own band that traveled throughout the Midwest.
While auditioning to be on an Ohio radio show, Crothers took on the moniker “Scat Man” to appease the show’s director. The director felt Crothers’ birth name would not capture the attention of the audience. The nickname was later condensed to “Scatman.” However, by the end of the 1940s, Crothers had his sights set on California and traveling with the band.
In 1953, Scatman received his big break when he made an appearance in the musical Meet Me At The Fair. Crothers played the role of Enoch Jones in his movie debut. Following his appearance in the film, Crothers was able to secure many other roles. His roles were not limited solely to film, and Crothers could be seen in both television and movies. During the 1970s, Crothers could be seen as Louie the Garbage Man on NBC’s Chico and the Man. He also appeared on the mini-series Roots.
Crothers was also known for being a quality voiceover artist. He was the voice behind Meadowlark Lemon in The Harlem Globetrotters (1970) tv series and Jazz the Autobot in The Transformers (1984) series. Crothers was given a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame on April 8, 1981, for his years of experience in show business.
Benjamin “Scatman” Crothers died on November 22, 1986, in Los Angeles, California.