“Forgotten Hollywood”- What a Character! Woody Strode…

Posted on December 15, 2017 by raideoman1 | No Comments

Manny P. here…

“`In my Forgotten Hollywood Book Series, I contend that Eddie Rochester Anderson was a positive Toe in the Water in his portrait of African American characters. His roles, particularly on The Jack Benny Program, showcased self-effacing humor at the expense of Jack Benny, and this made him quite endearing to radio and television audiences. Benny put forward this comedic directive to his team of writers; a decision he made after personally witnessing how Jews were treated in concentration camps during World War II.

“`Prior to this, African Americans were often used as comic relief, unfortunately in dim-witted, sketchy, or subservient situations during Hollywood’s Golden Age. Though, Rochester was still employed by Benny in his program, it was still a small step in the right direction. Jack Benny’s directive afforded a rare opportunity for Anderson to appear as a witty, confident man of color that rarely was portrayed, particularly on screen. In my previous writings, I contend there is a trajectory from Anderson to the later distinguished performances of Sidney Poitier.

“`That trajectory should also include the body of cinematic work of Woody Strode. A wonderful athlete who played college football at UCLA with Jackie Robinson and Kenny Washington,  he was two of the initial African-Americans to compete in the  National Football League (for the Los Angeles Rams).  WOODY STRODE –>

“`A valued member of John Ford’s stock company of actors, Strode was seldom offered a part for comic relief, or played dim-witted types.  Woody had an athletic dignity, beginning with an uncredited assignment in Stagecoach in 1939. Strode co-starred with Rochester just once in Star Spangled Rhythm.

“`Strode was a go-to actor when an African royal or gladiator was needed. His filmography includes top 1950s productions, including  Androcles and the Lion, Demetrius and the Gladiators, The Ten Commandments, and the modern war drama, Pork Chop Hill. He received a richly-deserved Golden Globes nomination for his noble and vigorous (if brief) performance in Spartacus.

“`With success by Poitier in  The Blackboard Jungle and The Defiant Ones, Ford showed visionary foresight, offering rare top billing to Strode.  Woody was cast as the title character in Sergeant Rutledge in 1960. His stoic stature fit the Western genre to perfection. During the 1960s, Strode was also memorable in Ford’s The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and Two Rode Together. Other sagebrush performances included  Once Upon a Time in the West, The Professionals,  Posse, and his final part in The Quick and the Dead. In fact, the main character, Sheriff Woody in the Toy Story animated films by Pixar, was named in honor of Strode.

               JOHN WAYNE               WOODY STRODE

“`His enduring critical legacy… Woody Strode has become widely regarded (along with Brock Peters and Sidney Poitier) as one of the important black cinematic actors of his generation. I concur. Toes in the Water that forged a positive splash in motion picture history.


Please visit other 6th Annual What a Character! Blogathon posts that appear on many classic Hollywood sites. For more info, cut-n-paste the following links:





Until next time>                               “never forget”

This entry was posted on Friday, December 15th, 2017 at 2:41 pm and is filed under Blog by Manny Pacheco. You can follow any comments to this post through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

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