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Dudley Henry Dickerson, Jr. was born November 27, 1906, in Chickasha, Oklahoma, the 4th of 6 children of Dudley Henry Dickerson and Cora Hilliard Dickerson. His siblings were Norman, Irene, Hortense, Delora and Alyce.  Both parents were born in Texas; he in 1875, she in 1882.  Dudley's father was a Railroad Station Porter. Dudley's grandparents lineage is unclear.  Amanda, also known as Mandy, Williams (Dudley's grandmother on his father's side), was born in Mississippi, about 1850. The name of her first husband is unknown, but it's believed his last name was Howard. She had 4 children (starting at age 14), Winnie (B. about 1864), Bradshaw (B. about 1866), Alice (B. about 1870) and Dudley (B. about 1875).  She divorced, or was widowed, before 1880, and married Andrew, also known as Andy, Dickerson, on December 4, 1879. They lived in Wilson County, Texas in 1880, and the children were stepchildren to Andy Dickerson.   Nothing is known about what happened to the family, other than Dudley.  Dudley and Cora moved to Chickasha, Oklahoma in 1895.   

As a child, one summer, the Ringling Brothers Circus came to Chickasha, and set-up near Dudley's back yard.  He was intrigued by it, and after the Circus left, he scooped up remnants and created his own show, later known as the "Pin-Penny Circus". He became known as "Paddlefoot" Dickerson.  He developed some of the acrobatics he would later use in his nightclub act, and in films.   Dudley eventually moved to California.  In the late 1920's to early 1930's, he was a well-known entertainer in the Black community, performing regularly at Sebastian's Cotton Club in Los Angeles, CA. and other venues.

He married Marie Jones Austin, officiated by L.G. Robinson, a minister of the Gospel, on March 12, 1927, with Nelson McAlpine as witness. She had married, not for love, but to escape her protective parents.  At the time of the marriage application, Dudley (age 21) listed himself as an entertainer at the Cotton Club, and Marie (age 20) as an entertainer at the Chicken Coop. The marriage was short-lived. No record of a divorce has been found. In 1935, his mother, Cora, and sisters Hortense and Alyce, visited him from Oklahoma, to see him perform.

On March 20, 1937, Dudley obtained Social Security #568-05-0027.  He listed his employer at that time as Paradise Club Cafe, Inc., 633 Main Street, Los Angeles, CA. Various publications and voter registration records from the 1940's and 1950's list his employment as an actor, and his Political registration as Republican.   He is credited on the Internet Movie Data Base (IMDb) as having roles in 124 film and television shows, from 1934 until 1959.  Most notable were 10 Three Stooges shorts, 5 musical” Soundees", 8 appearances in the "Amos and Andy" TV show in 1951, and his last film appearance in the cult-film "The Alligator People" (1959).
Dudley Henry Dickerson, Jr. died Sept. 23, 1968, from complications from cerebral thrombosis and hypertension at St. Francis Hospital in Lynwood, CA. He had lived at 1124 East 92nd Street in Los Angeles. Dudley is buried at Lincoln Cemetery (Now Lincoln Memorial Park) in Carson (Los Angeles County), CA.  His sister Alyce Dickerson McWilliams is buried beside him.  Another sister, Delora Dickerson Finnell, was the informant on his Death Certificate.  At the time of his death, Dudley had been employed for 10 years by Aerojet-General Corp. of Los Angeles, as a sanitary engineer.
His father, also Dudley H. Dickerson, was born Jan 1, 1875 and died December 11, 1934, in Chickasha, Oklahoma.  As he was preparing to go to work at the Rock Island Railroad around noon that day, he was stricken with paralysis.  There also was a fire, caused by a leak in a gas line, at the house, which caused no damage.  He died at 3:50 PM.  Cause of death was paralysis.  His obituary also noted that he was a resident of Chickasha over 40 years.  He and Cora had obtained the first marriage license issued in Chickasha. He organized the first colored Masonic Lodge in Chickasha. Fletcher Funeral Home provided the Service.   His mother Corrine R. (nee Hilliard) Dickerson was born May 7, 1882, in Texas and died October 19, 1947, in Chickasha, Oklahoma.  She and her future husband moved to Chickasha (then Indian Territory) in 1885.  She had been ill for several months prior to her death.  She was a member of the First Baptist Church, a Sunday school teacher, a member of the Missionary Society and the Federated Women's Club.   Dudley's older brother, Norman L., was born June 10, 1899, in Chickasha and died May 25, 1941, in Los Angeles, California.  His body was moved to Chickasha for burial.   All three are buried at Rose Hill Cemetery in Chickasha (Grady County), Oklahoma.  They are in Plot BL 23, lot 41.   Older sister Irene G. was born February 5, 1901 and died March 2, 1976 in Los Angeles, CA.  Older sister Hortense M. was born November 22, 1901 and died, as Hortense M. Merida August 29, 1993 in Sacramento, CA.   Younger sister Delora was born April 30, 1907 and died as Delora A. Fennell January 26, 2000 in Los Angeles, CA.  She is buried in Inglewood Park Cemetery in Inglewood, CA.   Younger sister Alyce was born January 26, 1914 and died as Alyce L. Mays May 4, 1969 in Los Angeles, CA. She is buried beside Dudley in Lincoln Park Cemetery in Carson (Los Angeles County), CA.  in plot Z-33, grave 19.  She was buried under her former marriage name, Alyce McWilliams.
Special thanks for the following people who helped provide the information for this biography include several of Dudley's relatives, Pat Cunningham, Director/Curator of the Grady County Historical Society, "Karen", a FindaGrave contributor, Loretta Y. Jackson, a local black historian, the Mayme A. Clayton Museum in Culver City, CA., the Oxford African American Studies Center at Harvard, fellow Stooge researchers Bill Cappello and Jim Pauley, and a friend of the family, Tony Bonacci.


(c) Frank Reighter 2011


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