Benjamin Sherman Crothers (May 23, 1910 – November 22, 1986) known as Scatman Crothers, was an American actor, singer, dancer and musician known for his work as Louie the Garbage Man on the TV show Chico and the Man and as Dick Hallorann in Stanley Kubrick's The Shining (1980), the latter of which earned him the Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor.
He was also a prolific voiceover artist, and provided the voices of Meadowlark Lemon in the Harlem Globetrotters animated TV series, Jazz the Autobot in The Transformers television series and The Transformers: The Movie (1986), the title character in Hong Kong Phooey and Scat Cat in the animated Disney film The Aristocats (1972).
Crothers started his musical career as a 15-year-old drummer in a speakeasy band in his home town of Terre Haute. He played a variety of instruments, including drums and guitar, on jazz club band circuits in his early days as an entertainer. Among the people for whom he performed was the notorious gangster, Al Capone.
Crothers formed his own band in the 1930s and traveled to Oakland, California, with the band in 1948. He played piano at the Port O’ Call and Walt's 405 Club. He also appeared in a 1950 episode of The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show performing “Chattanoogie Shoe Shine Boy” with Harris, who introduced him as Scatman Roth. He left Oakland to stay in Los Angeles in 1952.
Crothers made his official debut in the movie Meet Me at the Fair (1953). He worked in both movies and television, often taking bit parts. He also made musical shorts and played drums with Slim Gaillard in the mid-1940s. Crothers then landed a major supporting role in the 1970 animated film The Aristocats from Walt Disney Productions, providing the voice of “Scat Cat”.
He also performed the film's theme song “Ev’rybody Wants to be a Cat”. Good friends with Jack Nicholson, he appeared in four of his films: The King of Marvin Gardens (1972), The Fortune, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975), and as Dick Halloran in The Shining (1980).
A heavy smoker most of his life, Crothers was diagnosed with lung cancer in late 1985, but he kept his condition a secret in order to continue working. The cancer eventually spread to his esophagus by mid 1986, rendering him unable to speak which more or less ended his career. He died of pneumonia on November 22, 1986, at his home in Van Nuys, Los Angeles, California at age 76.
May 23, 1910
November 22, 1986
- At the age of 15, Scatman Crothers began his musical career as a drummer in a local speakeasy band. He played a variety of instruments, including guitar and drums, in bands in his early days. He then formed his own band and travelled to Oakland with the band in 1948. He also recorded many solo albums and singles.
- Scatman Crothers made his official film debut in the 1953 flick Meet Me at the Fair. He then appeared in the movies East of Sumatra, Johnny Dark, Tarzan and the Trappers and Porgy and Bess. From 1961 to 1969, the actor did several films out of which only The Sins of Rachel Cade and The Patsy got him acting credits. Then in 1970, Crothers lent his voice to the character of Scat Cat in the Disney movie The Aristocats.
- Even though Crothers worked in the television at the beginning of his career, he came into prominence after doing voice-over work on numerous animated series, beginning with Disney's The Aristocats. He then did voice work for Harlem Globetrotters, Hong Kong Phooey, Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels and Trollkins.
- Additionally, the actor also made guest appearances on several popular shows including Bewitched, McMillan & Wife, Dragnet, Adam-12, Kojak, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, Starsky and Hutch, Sanford and Son, Charlie's Angels, Taxi and The Love Boat, to name a few. Crothers starred in the short-lived television series Casablanca, One of the Boys and Morningstar/Eveningstar. He also appeared in a supporting role on the sitcom Chico and the Man.