Biography

One of the hard-working, unappreciated Negro actors of Hollywood's "Golden Era" who produced good work with what he was given. He starred alongside some of film's great comedians including the Marx Brothers, Bob Hope, Laurel and Hardy and three films with Shirley Temple. In addition to being a talented comedian and character actor, Best was also a musician/song writer. After a drug arrest ended his film career, he worked in television for a while before retiring to obscurity. He passed away at the Motion Picture Country Home and is buried in North Hollywood, California.

Best was one of the victims of the racist attitudes of the era, never given the opportunity to fully flex his comedic muscle beyond the stereotyped porter and janitor roles that dominated his career. Sadly he was also a victim of backlash for these same roles during the Civil Rights movement and it is hard to watch many of his films without cringing, despite his ability.

Bob Hope referred to Best, as his comedic co-star in The Ghost Breakers (1940), as one of the finest talents he had ever worked with.

In his earliest film appearances, in the early 1930s, if he was given screen credit he was billed as "Sleep 'n' Eat".

He came to Hollywood serving as a chauffeur for a Mississippi white couple on vacation, and decided to stay and seek a career in show business.

One of the hard-working, unappreciated Negro actors of Hollywood's "Golden Era" who produced good work with what he was given. He starred alongside some of film's great comedians including the Marx Brothers, Bob Hope, Laurel and Hardy and three films with Shirley Temple. In addition to being a talented comedian and character actor, Best was also a musician/song writer. After a drug arrest ended his film career, he worked in television for a while before retiring to obscurity. He passed away at the Motion Picture Country Home and is buried in North Hollywood, California.

Best was one of the victims of the racist attitudes of the era, never given the opportunity to fully flex his comedic muscle beyond the stereotyped porter and janitor roles that dominated his career. Sadly he was also a victim of backlash for these same roles during the Civil Rights movement and it is hard to watch many of his films without cringing, despite his ability.

Bob Hope referred to Best, as his comedic co-star in The Ghost Breakers (1940), as one of the finest talents he had ever worked with.

In his earliest film appearances, in the early 1930s, if he was given screen credit he was billed as "Sleep 'n' Eat".

He came to Hollywood serving as a chauffeur for a Mississippi white couple on vacation, and decided to stay and seek a career in show business.

Personal Info

Known For Acting

Gender Male

Known Credits 91

Birthday 1913-05-27

Day of Death 1962-11-27

Place of Birth Sunflower, Mississippi, USA

Official Site -

Also Known As

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Acting TV ShowsMovies

Waterfront(81 episodes) as Billy Slocum
2004 TV in Black: The First Fifty Years
1975 Brother Can You Spare A Dime as Himself
1962 Harold Lloyd's World of Comedy as Charlie (archive footage)
1952 My Little Margie(41 episodes)
1951 South of Caliente as Willie, Stable Boy
1951 Racket Squad(1 episode)
1950 The Stu Erwin Show(129 episodes)
1947 The Red Stallion as Jackson
1947 Suddenly It's Spring as Porter on Train
1946 Dangerous Money as Chattanooga Brown
1946 The Bride Wore Boots as Joe
1946 The Face of Marble as Shadrach
1945 She Wouldn't Say Yes as Porter (uncredited)
1945 Hold That Blonde! as Willie Shelley
1945 Charlie Chan in The Red Dragon as Chattanooga Brown
1945 Pillow to Post as Lucille, Colonial Auto Court Porter
1945 The Monster and the Ape as Flash
1944 The Mark of the Whistler as Men's Room Attendant (uncredited)
1944 The Girl Who Dared as Woodrow
1944 Home in Indiana as Mo' Rum (uncredited)
1943 The Kansan as Bones
1943 Dixie as Steward (uncredited)
1943 Cabin in the Sky as Second Idea Man
1943 The Powers Girl as Men's Room Attendant
1942 The Hidden Hand as Eustis the Chauffeur
1942 Busses Roar as Sunshine
1942 A-Haunting We Will Go as Waiter
1942 Maisie Gets Her Man as Sam
1942 Juke Girl as Jo-Mo
1942 Whispering Ghosts as Euclid White Brown
1941 Breakdowns of 1941 as Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)
1941 Nothing But the Truth as Samuel
1941 The Smiling Ghost as Clarence
1941 Highway West as Bub Wellington
1941 Kisses for Breakfast as Arnold
1941 The Lady from Cheyenne as George
1941 Road Show as Willie
1941 High Sierra as Algernon
1940 Who Killed Aunt Maggie? as Andrew
1940 Money and the Woman as George Washington Jones
1940 The Ghost Breakers as Alex
1940 Blondie on a Budget as Newsboy
1940 I Take This Woman as Sambo
1939 Slightly Honorable as Art, the Elevator Operator
1939 At the Circus as Redcap (uncredited)
1939 Blackmail as Bunny - the Janitor
1939 Way Down South as Chimney Sweep
1939 Mr. Moto Takes a Vacation as Driver
1939 Nancy Drew... Trouble Shooter as Apollo Johnson
1939 Mr. Moto in Danger Island as Launch Pilot
1939 The Saint Strikes Back as Algernon, Simon's Butler
1938 Blondie as Porter
1938 Spring Madness as Porter on Train
1938 Straight, Place and Show as Hannibal
1938 Youth Takes a Fling as George
1938 Vivacious Lady as Train Porter
1938 Goodbye Broadway as Jughead
1938 Merrily We Live as George
1938 Gold Is Where You Find It as Joshua
1938 Everybody's Doing It as Jasper - Elevator Operator
1938 Crashing Hollywood as Train Porter
1937 Saturday's Heroes as Sam
1937 The Lady Fights Back as McTavish
1937 Super-Sleuth as Warts, Martin's manservant
1937 Meet the Missus as Bootblack
1937 You Can't Buy Luck as Airline Porter
1937 Racing Lady as Brass
1937 We Who Are About to Die as Airport Porter
1936 Night Waitress as Black Pedestrian
1936 General Spanky as Henry
1936 Mummy's Boys as Catfish
1936 Down The Stretch as Noah
1936 The Bride Walks Out as Smokie
1936 Thank You, Jeeves! as Drowsy
1936 Murder on a Bridle Path as 'High-Pockets'
1936 Two in Revolt as Eph
1936 Silly Billies as Excitement
1935 To Beat the Band as Elevator Operator
1935 The Littlest Rebel as James Henry
1935 Hot Tip as Apollo
1935 Jalna as Sam, the Janitor
1935 The Arizonian as Pompey
1935 The Nitwits as Sleepy
1935 Murder on a Honeymoon as Willie
1934 West of the Pecos as Jonah (as Sleep 'n' Eat)
1934 Little Miss Marker as Dizzy Memphis (uncredited)
1932 The Monster Walks as Exodus (as Sleep n' Eat)
1931 Up Pops the Devil as Laundryman
1930 Feet First as Janitor
1930 Ladies of Leisure as George, the Elevator Operator

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