Mantan Moreland

Was a famous comedian
Mantan Moreland was the first African-American from Monroe to appear in Movies.

Mantan Moreland was born in Monroe, La on September 3, 1902. He lived in Monroe in his early years. According to local legend, he ran away from home and joined a traveling show, attracted to the clowns and comedians.

By the late 1920s, he had made his way through vaudeville, working with various shows and revues, performing on Broadway and touring Europe.
Initially, Moreland appeared in low-budget "race movies" aimed at African-American audiences, but as his comedic talents came to be recognized, he received roles in larger productions.

Monogram Pictures signed Moreland to appear opposite Frankie Darro in the studio's popular action pictures. Moreland, with his bulging eyes and cackling laugh, quickly became a favorite supporting player in Hollywood movies. He is perhaps best known for his role as chauffeur Birmingham Brown in Monogram's Charlie Chan series. At the height of his career, Moreland received steady work from major film studios, as well as from independent producers who starred Moreland in low-budget, all-black-cast comedies.

Mantan Moreland
reland became the mentor some African-American youth who also aspired to the comediclife, among them was a young Freddy "Bootie Jim" Jones who would later launch a career of his own.

Moreland also toured America in vaudeville, making personal appearances in the nation's movie theaters. His straight man was Ben Carter, and they developed an excellent rapport and impeccable timing. Their "incomplete sentence" routines can be seen in two Charlie Chan pictures, The Scarlet Clue and Dark Alibi.

Moreland was offered fewer roles in the 1950s, when filmmakers reportedly began to reassess roles given to black actors. He was briefly considered as apossible addition to the Three Stooges when Shemp Howard died in 1955.

Moreland returned to the stage and appeared in two all-black variety films in 1955, with Nipsey Russell standing in for Ben Carter as his straight man.

Moreland's last featured role was in the 1968 darkly humorous horror film Spider Baby, which was patterned after Universal's thrillers of the 1940s. After suffering a stroke in the early 1960s, Moreland took on a few minor comedic roles, working with the likes of Bill Cosby, Moms Mabley and Carl Reiner.

Moreland died on September 28, 1973 of a cerebral hemorrhage in Hollywood.