Dudley Henry Dickerson Jr. (November 27, 1906 – September 23, 1968) was an American film actor. Born in Chickasha, Oklahoma, he appeared in nearly 160 films between 1932 and 1952, and is best remembered for his roles in several Three Stooges films.
Given the era in which Dickerson performed, he was usually cast in stereotypical roles that were common in films of the time. His boundless energy can be seen in what are rather restrictive roles, and was a master at what has become known as “scared reaction” comedy. One of his early screen credits was the Our Gang comedy Spooky Hooky (1936), as a bemused caretaker. Dickerson also appeared in Soundies musical films with Dorothy Dandridge and Meade Lux Lewis; Big Joe Turner had recorded three numbers for Soundies but was not present for the filming, so Dickerson stood in for him and lip-synced his vocals.
Modern viewers will remember Dudley Dickerson for his portrayals of startled cooks, quizzical orderlies, frightened porters, and apprehensive watchmen in such Three Stooges films as They Stooge to Conga, A Gem of a Jam, and Hold That Lion! In Hold that Lion, he played a lovable train conductor who memorably bugged out his eyes and shrieked, “He’p, he’p, ah’m losin’ mah mahnd!” when a lion attacked him and ripped the seat of his pants while he was shining a pair of shoes. This gag had been used by Moe in a previous short, but Dickerson’s portrayal of the scene was so funny that the crew (and Dickerson himself) could hardly contain their laughter, as one can hear in the final release.
Probably Dickerson’s most memorable role was that of the hapless chef in the Stooges’ A Plumbing We Will Go, in which he uttered in bewilderment, “This house has sho’ gone crazy!” He was also able to show the range of his acting talent in this role, able to raise a laugh from the audience by just giving a suspicious, sideways look to a kitchen appliance that had previously acted up. The footage would be recycled twice more in future Stooge comedies: 1949’s Vagabond Loafers and 1956’s Scheming Schemers. Both films included a newly filmed scene of a raincoat-clad Dickerson informing guests that “dinner’s postponed on account of rain” (a turn of phrase usually used to describe the cancellation of a baseball game due to inclement weather).
Dickerson received featured billing in several Hugh Herbert comedies produced by Columbia Pictures, in which, as Herbert’s valet, he is always in scary situations and reacts with comic terror.
In the early 1950s, Dickerson appeared in several episodes of TV’s The Amos ‘n’ Andy Show, usually as a lodge member or Joe the Barber.
Dickerson had also appeared opposite Columbia comic Andy Clyde. When Columbia concluded its long-running Clyde series, producer Jules White called Dickerson back to appear opposite Clyde in a remake of the 1948 short Go Chase Yourself. To White’s surprise, Dickerson had lost considerable weight and would no longer match the scenes filmed in 1948. White regarded Dickerson so highly that he filmed the new scenes anyway. Columbia released the film in 1956 as Pardon My Nightshirt.
Dickerson retired from acting in 1959. He died of a brain tumor in 1968 at age 61, and is buried at Lincoln Memorial Park in Los Angeles, California.