Scatman Crothers was an actor and musician who had a net worth of $500 thousand at the time of his death in 1986. Scatman Crothers was best known for his roles as Louie the Garbage Man on the television sitcom “Chico and the Man” and Dick Hallorann in Stanley Kubrick’s horror film “The Shining.” Crothers was also prolific as a voice actor, with credits including the animated television shows “Harlem Globetrotters,” “The Transformers,” and “Hong Kong Phooey.” Among his other credits, Crothers appeared in the films “Lady Sings the Blues,” “Friday Foster,” “The Shootist,” and “Zapped!”
Scatman Crothers, whose real name was Benjamin Crothers, was born on May 23, 1910 in Terre Haute, Indiana. He launched his music career as a teenager, educating himself on guitar and drums and also learning how to sing.
Career Beginnings in Music
In the 1930s, Crothers formed a band in Akron, Ohio and performed on the radio; it was during this time that he adopted the name “Scatman” due to his predilection for scat singing. After moving to California in the 40s, Crothers performed often in Los Angeles. He also traveled to perform in such cities as Las Vegas and New York City. A number of Crothers’s singles went on to be released by Capitol Records, including “Television Blues” and “I’d Rather Be a Hummingbird.” Later, High Fidelity Records released his album “Rock and Roll with Scatman Crothers.” Among his other music-related activities, Crothers went on USO tours with Bob Hope and performed with bandleader Slim Gaillard.
Crothers transitioned into acting in the 1950s. His first major role came in Douglas Sirk’s 1953 musical film “Meet Me at the Fair.” Later that year, Crothers appeared in Budd Boetticher’s “East of Sumatra” and Lloyd Bacon’s “Walking My Baby Back Home.” His credits over the remainder of the decade included “Johnny Dark,” “Tarzan and the Trappers,” and “Porgy and Bess.” In the 60s, Crothers appeared in “The Sins of Rachel Cade” and “The Patsy”; he also had uncredited parts in such films as “Lady in a Cage,” “The Family Jewels,” and “Hello, Dolly!”
Kicking off the 70s, Crothers appeared in Roger Corman’s “Bloody Mama” and voiced the Scat Cat in the Disney animated film “The Aristocats.” He subsequently had roles in a string of films, including “Chandler,” “Lady Sings the Blues,” “The King of Marvin Gardens,” “Detroit 9000,” “Black Belt Jones,” and “Truck Turner.” In 1975, Crothers was in five films: “Linda Lovelace for President,” “Friday Foster,” “Coonskin,” and the Jack Nicholson titles “The Fortune” and “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” His credits in the latter half of the 70s include “Stay Hungry,” “The Shootist,” “Mean Dog Blues,” and “Scavenger Hunt.”
Crothers began the 80s with arguably the most famous role of his career: telepathic hotel chef Dick Hallorann in Stanley Kubrick’s horror film “The Shining.” This was his fourth and final film with Jack Nicholson. Crothers next appeared in Clint Eastwood’s Western “Bronco Billy.” He had further roles in such 80s films as “Zapped!,” “Deadly Eyes,” “Twilight Zone: The Movie,” “Two of a Kind,” and “The Journey of Natty Gann.” Crothers’s final theatrical film credit was “The Transformers: The Movie,” in which he reprised his voice role as Jazz from the television series.
Early in his television career, Crothers appeared in episodes of “The Adventures of Jim Bowie,” “Alfred Hitchcock Presents,” “Beany and Cecil,” and “Bonanza.” His first substantial role was on the Saturday morning cartoon “Harlem Globetrotters” from 1970 to 1971, voicing the character George “Meadowlark” Lemon. Crothers continued voice acting in the years after that, with credits including “The New Scooby-Doo Movies” and “Hong Kong Phooey.” His biggest role in the 70s, however, was as Louie the Garbage Man on the NBC sitcom “Chico and the Man,” which ran for four seasons from 1974 to 1978. During the decade, Crothers also made guest appearances on such shows as “Bewitched,” “Nichols,” “Kojak,” “Mannix,” “Sanford and Son,” and “Charlie’s Angels,” and played Mingo in the acclaimed ABC miniseries “Roots.”
In the early 80s, Crothers was in episodes of “Laverne & Shirley,” “Magnum, P.I.,” “Benson,” and “Taxi.” He also lent his voice to the animated series “Trollkins” and played Sam in the short-lived television adaptation of “Casablanca.” Later in the decade, Crothers voiced characters on two animated series: “The Transformers” and “Paw Paws.” Crothers also made an appearance on the legal drama series “The Paper Chase.”
Personal Life and Death
Crothers married his wife Helen Sullivan in 1937. The couple remained together for nearly 50 years until Crothers’s passing from lung cancer in late 1986. Crothers is interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in the Hollywood Hills area of Los Angeles, California.