cover image Scatman: An Authorized Biography of Scatman Crothers

Scatman: An Authorized Biography of Scatman Crothers

James Haskins. William Morrow & Company, $22.5 (224pp) ISBN 978-0-688-08521-6

Haskins ( Mr. Bojangles ) tells the story of Benjamin Sherman Crothers (who called himself Scatman because of his predilection for scatting lyrics) from his early appearances in speakeasies through his career as a band leader, songwriter, character actor in films, voice-over artist and the first black actor on a regular TV series, the 1940s' Dixie Showboat . Crothers's big break came only late in life, with the role of Louie the Garbageman on the 1970s TV series Chico and the Man ; but the delayed fame did not discourage one of show business's happier personalities--a warm and even-tempered man who was undaunted by racial prejudice (he married a white woman in 1937, ``before it was fashionable''), professional setbacks and illness. After Crothers died in 1986 at the age of 76, Haskins completed this affectionate biography with the cooperation of the performer's wife of 48 years. Photos not seen by PW. (Sept.)