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Ernie Morrison

Ernie Morrison as Sunshine Sammy in Dogs of War (1923)
Born Ernest Fredric Morrison
December 20, 1912(1912-12-20)
New Orleans, Louisiana
Died July 24, 1989 (aged 76)
Lynwood, California
Other name(s) Sunshine Sammy
Little Sambo
Smiling Sambo
Occupation Actor
Years active 1916 – 1976

Ernest "Ernie" Fredric Morrison (December 20, 1912 – July 24, 1989) was an American child actor who performed under the stage name "Sunshine Sammy". Morrison was the only black member of the East Side Kids, and was also an original Our Gang kid, a sidekick to Harold Lloyd and Snub Pollard, a silent screen comedian, a vaudevillian, and a dancer and band leader.

Contents

Early life and career

Born in 1912 in New Orleans, Morrison fell into show business because a child actor being used for a film couldn't be persuaded to do anything but howl. One of the crew members asked Morrison's father to bring in his newborn son, and since the newest member of the Morrison clan gave the film crew what they needed, they decided to christen him "Sunshine", since he did not cry. Morrison's father added "Sammy" to his son's moniker.

Morrison ultimately appeared in two-reel silent comedies opposite both Harold Lloyd and Snub Pollard, two of the era's biggest comedians. He was the first black actor to be signed to a long-term contract, signing with comedy producer Hal Roach in 1919. When Roach conceived his Our Gang series, featuring child actors in a natural juvenile setting, in 1921, Sammy was the first child recruited. Morrison left the series in 1924 to work in vaudeville, where his talents were featured on the same bills with such up and coming acts as Abbott and Costello and Jack Benny.

After doing some touring in Australia with partner Sleepy Williams, Morrison returned to the United States, and was chosen by Sam Katzman to be one of the East Side Kids. From the beginning, Morrison tapped into his experiences growing up on the East Side of New York to shape the character of "Scruno". He spent three years with the gang before leaving to pursue other opportunities, often doing promotional stints with Huntz Hall and Bobby Jordan.

Morrison left the Kids when he was offered an opportunity to work with the Step Brothers act, a prominent black stage and film dance act. He was drafted into the army during World War II. After being discharged, he was offered a part in The Bowery Boys series that was just being launched, but he declined the offer.

Later years and death

Morrison eventually left show business and ended up working for an aircraft-plant making parts for aircraft (or perhaps "missile work"), apparently doing very well financially.[1] In later life, Morrison appeared in guest spots on television series such as The Jeffersons and Good Times. He died of cancer in Lynwood in July 1989. Intement at Inglewood Park Cemetery, Inglewood California.

Selected filmography

Film
Year Film Role Notes
1916 The Soul of a Child Uncredited
1918 Dolly's Vacation Ebenezer Eczema Abraham White Credited as Sambo
1919 The Little Diplomat George Washington Jones, Jr. Credited as Little Sambo
1920 Waltz Me Around Credited as Sunshine Sammy Morrison
1921 Rush Orders Narcissus Credited as Sunshine Sammy Morrison
1922 One Terrible Day Booker T.
1923 No Noise Sunshine Sammy
1924 Fast Company Sunshine Sammy
1926 Between Meals In Need Credited as Sunshine Sammy Morrison
1940 I Can't Give You Anything But Love, Baby Joe Credited as Sammy Morrison
1941 Spooks Run Wild Scruno Credited as Sunshine Sammy Morrison
1942 Let's Get Tough! Scruno Credited as Sunshine Sammy Morrison
1943 Clancy Street Boys Scruno Credited as Sammy Morrison
1944 Greenwich Village One of the Four Step Brothers Uncredited
1976 Jim the World's Greatest Teacher Alternative title: Story of a Teenager
Television
Year Title Role Notes
1974 Good Times Messenger 1 episode

References

External links

Preceded by
Ernie Morrison
Our Gang
1922-1924
Succeeded by
Allen Hoskins
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