Shuffling to Ignominy: The Tragedy of Stepin Fetchit

Overview

Between 1927 and 1975, Stepin Fetchit, born Lincoln Perry in 1902, appeared in over 40 films. He was the first Black actor to receive featured credit in a motion picture. He was the first Black actor to sign a long-term contract with a Hollywood studio. He was the first Black actor to drive through the front gates of a Hollywood studio...with a chauffer at the wheel. He was, in Fetchit's own words, "The first Black actor universally acclaimed a star by the public." This at a time when, "No White man had the idea ...

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Overview

Between 1927 and 1975, Stepin Fetchit, born Lincoln Perry in 1902, appeared in over 40 films. He was the first Black actor to receive featured credit in a motion picture. He was the first Black actor to sign a long-term contract with a Hollywood studio. He was the first Black actor to drive through the front gates of a Hollywood studio...with a chauffer at the wheel. He was, in Fetchit's own words, "The first Black actor universally acclaimed a star by the public." This at a time when, "No White man had the idea of making a Negro a star." Stepin Fetchit was indeed the first African-American movie star.

How, then, did Stepin Fetchit come to represent all that is bad about race in America? And who was the man behind this mask of a name?

Here, author Champ Clark reveals the true facts of Fetchit/Perry's controversial life and career. Going beyond archival material, Clark draws from his conversations with the actor's own family, friends and co-stars. In addition, a newly discovered eight-hour interview allows the real Lincoln Perry to finally speak for himself.

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Editorial Reviews

John Strausbaugh
Mr. Clark persuasively contends that Perry's Stepin Fetchit was a sly trickster, following a centuries-old subversive tradition whereby blacks played the fool to fool whites. He notes how often Stepin Fetchit, by pretending to be too lazy and addled to understand the simplest directions, avoids doing the white characters' work, all the while muttering subtle sarcasms in a drawl that was indecipherable to whites but clear and hilarious to black audiences.
—The New York Times
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780595371259
  • Publisher: iUniverse, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/28/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 143
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.37 (d)

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