Sunday, April 20, 2008

Lincoln Theodore Monroe Andrew Perry

You may not be familiar with the name Lincoln Theodore Monroe Andrew Perry, but he was a well-known comedic black actor in many movies of the 1930s and 1940s. His screen name was 'Stepin Fetchit', and he became a very controversial actor because he portrayed black characters as slow-moving, slow-talking, and low intelligence. However he's viewed, he did become a 'black superstar' character actor in the 1930s, and parlayed his income into millionaire status.

Despite the many years he was taken down by civil rights groups over his negative stereotypes, he received accolades in later years for his part in opening doors for black actors, notably the Special Image Award by the NAACP. He was elected into the Black Filmmaker's Hall of Fame in 1978.

In late 1980, Mr. Perry was a resident of the Motion Picture Country Home in Woodland Hills, California. A few years earlier, he had suffered a stroke and needed health care, and the MPCH was the best place for him. I wrote him, and sent him this photo, which he signed and dated, and returned to me in January 1981. As you can see, the stroke affected his mind somewhat, as he inscribed the photo "By Bill Cappello" and "To Stepin Fetchit". But his handwriting is clear and easy to read.

There have been many articles written about Mr. Perry and his "laziest man in the world" character, over the years. However, the best biography is Stepin Fetchit: The Life and Times of Lincoln Perry by Mel Watkins (Pantheon, 2005).

For an article and link to a 7 minute radio documentary presented on NPR in 2006, with sound bytes from movies, click here.

Here's a couple of scene stills: top with Warner Oland, bottom with Will Rogers.

1 comment:

vincentfielder said...

I have three autographed pictures of stepin fetchit. I would like to find out if the signatures are authentic. I sthere somewhere you can direct me into finding this out? You can e-mail me at Thank you