Dooley Wilson

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Dooley Wilson
Dooley-Wilson Casablanca.jpg
Wilson in Casablanca (1942)
Born
Arthur Wilson

(1886-04-03)April 3, 1886
Died May 30, 1953(1953-05-30) (aged 67)
Occupation
  • Actor
  • singer
  • musician
Years active 1893–1952
Spouse(s) Estelle Williams (married ?–1953)[1][2]

Arthur "Dooley" Wilson (April 3, 1886 – May 30, 1953) was an American actor, singer and musician who is best remembered as Sam in the 1942 film, Casablanca; in the film, he also performed its theme song, "As Time Goes By".

Wilson was a drummer and singer[3] who led his own band in the 1920s, touring nightclubs in London and Paris. In the 1930s he took up acting, playing supporting roles onstage on Broadway and in a series of modest films. His role in Casablanca was by far his most prominent, but his other films included My Favorite Blonde (1942) with Bob Hope, Stormy Weather (1943) with Lena Horne and the Nicholas Brothers, and the Western Passage West (1951).[4][5]

Early life and career

Dooley Wilson starring in the Federal Theatre Project production Conjur' Man Dies (1936)
Dooley Wilson as Fat Joe in the Federal Theatre Project revival of Eugene O'Neill's The Long Voyage Home, comprised in the production One-Act Plays of the Sea (1937)
Dooley Wilson as Androcles in the Federal Theatre Project production of Androcles and the Lion (1938)
Margaret Douglass, Dooley Wilson and Joan McCracken in the Broadway musical Bloomer Girl (1944)

Arthur Wilson was born in Tyler, Texas,[5] the youngest of five children. At age seven, the year of his father's death, he began to make a living by performing in churches in Tyler. When he was eight years old he was making $18 a week, singing and playing in tent shows. By 1908 he was in Chicago in the repertory company of the Pekin Theatre, the first legitimate black theatre in the United States. By then he had earned the nickname "Dooley", for his whiteface impersonation of an Irishman singing a song called "Mr. Dooley".[6]:142–143

Part of the emerging African American theatre, Wilson worked with the Anita Bush company in New York City in 1914 and with Charles Gilpin's stock company at the Lafayette Theatre in Harlem in 1915.[6]:143 He performed in James Reese Europe's band, and after World War I he toured Europe with his own band, The Red Devils, throughout the 1920s.[5]

Working in the U.S. again during the Great Depression, Wilson starred in Conjur' Man Dies (1936) and other plays for the Federal Theatre Project's Negro Theatre Unit, then under the direction of John Houseman. His breakthrough role came in 1940, with his portrayal of Little Joe in the Broadway musical Cabin in the Sky. This won him a contract with Paramount Pictures in Hollywood. He found himself playing Pullman porters while his stage role in the MGM film adaptation of Cabin in the Sky was played by Eddie "Rochester" Anderson.[6]:143–144

Casablanca

In May 1942, Warner Bros. was casting its production of Casablanca and borrowed Wilson from Paramount Pictures for seven weeks at $500 a week. Per the studio custom of the day, Wilson received his contract salary, $350 per week, and Paramount kept the balance.[6]:144

Wilson was cast in the role of Sam, a singer and pianist employed by nightclub owner Rick (Humphrey Bogart). Wilson performs the Herman Hupfeld song "As Time Goes By", a continuing musical and emotional motif throughout the film. According to Aljean Harmetz, Variety singled out Wilson for the effectiveness of the song, and The Hollywood Reporter said he created "something joyous". The phrase "Play it again, Sam", commonly believed to be a quote from the film, is never heard in Casablanca. In the film, Wilson as Sam performs several other songs for the cafe audience: "It Had To Be You", "Shine", "Knock on Wood", "Avalon" and "Parlez-moi d'amour".[7]

Wilson was a singer and drummer, but not a pianist. The piano music for the film was played offscreen and dubbed.[8]

Later life and career

Wilson was cast in the film version of Stormy Weather (1943), as Gabe Tucker, the best friend of Bill Williamson (Bill "Bojangles" Robinson). It was the second all-black cast motion picture made by a major studio in the 1940s, after Cabin in the Sky.[9]

Back on Broadway, Wilson played Pompey, an escaped slave, in the musical Bloomer Girl (1944–46).[10] His performance of the song "The Eagle and Me" in this show was selected by Dwight Blocker Bowers for inclusion in a Smithsonian recordings compilation, American Musical Theatre.[11] Later, Wilson played the role of Bill Jackson on the television situation comedy Beulah during its 1951–52 season.[12] Wilson was on the executive board of the Negro Actors Guild of America.[5]

Wilson died May 30, 1953 of natural causes, at his Los Angeles home. He had become ill two years earlier, while he was performing in a stage production of Harvey in New York.[13] He is buried at the Rosedale Cemetery in Los Angeles.[14] He was survived by his wife, Estelle (née Williams), who died in 1971. [15]

Filmography

Year Title Role Notes
1939 Keep Punching Baron Skinner [5][16]
1942 My Favorite Blonde Porter [9]
1942 Take a Letter, Darling Moses [9]
1942 Night in New Orleans Shadrach Jones [9]
1942 Cairo Hector [9]
1942 Casablanca Sam [9]
1943 Two Tickets to London Accordionist [9]
1943 Stormy Weather Gabe Tucker [9]
1943 Higher and Higher Oscar [9]
1944 Seven Days Ashore Jason [9]
1948 Triple Threat Porter Offscreen credit[9]
1948 Racing Luck Abe [9]
1949 Knock on Any Door Piano player Offscreen credit[9]
1949 Come to the Stable Anthony James [9]
1949 Free for All Aristotle [9]
1949 Tell It to the Judge Pullman porter Offscreen credit[9]
1950 No Man of Her Own Dining car waiter Offscreen credit[9]
1950 Father Is a Bachelor Blue Offscreen credit[9]
1951 Passage West Rainbow [9]
1951–1952 Beulah Bill Jackson TV series[12]

References

  1. ^ Hardman, Peggy (June 15, 2010). "Arthur [Dooley] Wilson". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved 2018-02-25.
  2. ^ Rea, E. B. (April 17, 1943). "Dooley Wilson, Newest Star to Rise in Film Skies, Gets Eighth Good Role". The Afro American. Retrieved 2018-02-25.
  3. ^ "Obituary: Dooley Wilson". Variety. June 10, 1953. p. 83. Retrieved 2018-02-25.
  4. ^ Otfinoski, Steven (2010). African Americans in the Performing Arts. Checkmark Books. pp. 244–245. ISBN 9780816078387.
  5. ^ a b c d e Charles, John. "Biography for Dooley Wilson". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 2017-11-05.
  6. ^ a b c d Harmetz, Aljean (1992). Round Up the Usual Suspects: The Making of Casablanca—Bogart, Bergman, and World War II. New York: Hyperion. p. 144. ISBN 1-56282-941-6.
  7. ^ "Casablanca (1942) Soundtrack and Complete List of Songs". What-song. Retrieved 2017-11-05.
  8. ^ "Who Played It Again, Sam? The Three Pianists of 'Casablanca'". AFM. Retrieved October 1, 2017.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s "Dooley Wilson". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. American Film Institute. Retrieved 2018-02-25.
  10. ^ "Bloomer Girl". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 2018-02-25.
  11. ^ Bowers, Dwight Blocker (ed.) American Musical Theatre: Shows, Songs, and Stars; Smithsonian Collection of Recordings, Washington, D.C., 1989.
  12. ^ a b Brooks, Tim; Marsh, Earle (1988). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows 1946–Present (4th ed.). New York: Ballantine Books. p. 77. ISBN 0-345-35610-1.
  13. ^ United Press (June 1, 1953). "Actor Dooley Wilson Dies at Age of 67". Yuma Sun. Yuma, Arizona. p. 5.
  14. ^ "Dooley Wilson (1886–1953)". Find a Grave. Retrieved 2018-02-25.
  15. ^ "Dooley Wilson". IMDb.
  16. ^ "Keep Punching". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. American Film Institute. Retrieved 2018-02-25.

External links

Retrieved from "https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Dooley_Wilson&oldid=861311057"
This content was retrieved from Wikipedia : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dooley_Wilson
This page is based on the copyrighted Wikipedia article "Dooley Wilson"; it is used under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (CC-BY-SA). You may redistribute it, verbatim or modified, providing that you comply with the terms of the CC-BY-SA