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*On this date in 1901 Mantan Moreland was born. He was a Black actor.
From Monroe, Louisiana, Moreland ran away from his home to join the circus at age 12, had success for many years in vaudeville. Eventually, his career came to Hollywood, where he appeared in hundreds of movies. Moreland’s artistry and Facal characteristics are familiar to most fans of classic Hollywood. “Charlie Chan” TV fans know him as Birmingham Brown, chauffeur to the great detective in a number of pictures for the Monogram studio but those films are but a small portion of his creative output.
Moreland’s wide-eyed portrayals of seemingly countless nervous manservants and train conductors cause a mixed reaction in these politically correct days of a new century. But whatever the response to Moreland’s film legacy in the twenty-first century, the fact remains that Moreland was a very talented character actor with a great gift of comic timing. He was one of the movies' greatest clowns. Moreland's last appearance in a major film was in the 1970s The Watermelon Man. Mantan Moreland died in Hollywood on September 28, 1973, at the age of 72.
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
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