As a young boy, Dudley Dickerson was inspired by the Ringling Brothers Circus. After a stop in his hometown of Chickasha, Oklahoma, Dudley gathered some props left behind by the circus. He cobbled together an act, calling it “Pin-Penny Circus” and performed acrobatics under the name “Paddlefoot” Dickerson.
Soon, Dudley was off to California in pursuit of a career in show business. He became a regular performer at the popular Sebastian’s Cotton Club in Culver City (just outside of Los Angeles), appearing in the company of top names like Lionel Hampton and Louis Armstrong.
He made his big screen debut in 1932, playing the first of a long line of uncredited roles of janitors, porters, cooks, and various other servants. However, he was featured alongside some of Hollywood’s biggest stars like Joan Blondell, Dick Powell, Ann Southern and even Laurel and Hardy.
In 1940, he appeared with The Three Stooges in his most memorable role in “A Plumbing We Will Go.” Dudley, as an innocent cook, is besieged by the result of Moe, Larry and Curly’s incompetent plumbing solutions. As he tries to prepare a meal for a houseful of snobby guests, he slips and slides all over the flooded kitchen as water pours from the oven, clock and electric light fixtures. Bewildered, he exclaims, “This house has sho’ gone crazy!” before making a hasty exit. Dudley made appearances in nine more Stooges shorts, essentially reprising this role.
In the 1950s, Dudley was a semi-regular on the Amos ‘n’ Andy program, playing a character named Joe who had varied, but still menial, occupations. After filming the low-budget thriller The Alligator People in 1959, Dudley called it a career.
Dudley enjoyed some fleeting fame in the 1960s when a syndication package of Three Stooges short subjects was released to television stations across the country. In 1968, at the age of 61, Dudley passed away from a brain tumor.