I remember seeing this Little Rascals short on television as a kid. It's really funny, but incredibly, OH MY GOD, racist, even for the time when I was watching it. Nevertheless, today, I feel like it deserves to be seen because it represents the most memorable performance of John Lester Johnson, as "THE WILD MAN OF BORNEO".
Johnson had been a boxer who actually beat Jack Dempsey (then an unknown) in the first integrated boxing event in 1917, although some of the papers of the time refused to acknowledge Johnson's win. He went on to a career in Hollywood, where he played a series of characters, mostly with names like "Butler" and "Nubian Slave". Racism kept John Lester Johnson from doing much decent acting work, and it would be tragic if a reaction against racism meant that the little bit of decent acting work he was permitted, and, in my opinion, a sly and nuanced comic performance, were to be lost to history.
|John Lester Johnson and Jack Dempsey, late 1950s|
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