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Ernie Morrison
Ernie Morrison as Sunshine Sammy in Dogs of War (1923)
Born Ernest Fredric Morrison
(1912-12-20)December 20, 1912
New Orleans, Louisiana
Died July 24, 1989(1989-07-24) (aged 76)
Lynwood, California
Cause of death cancer
Other names Sunshine Sammy
Little Sambo
Smiling Sambo
Occupation Actor
Years active 1916-1976

Ernest Fredric Morrison (December 20, 1912 – July 24, 1989) was an African American child actor who performed under the stage name "Sunshine Sammy." Morrison was the only black member of the East Side Kids, and was also an original Our Gang kid, a sidekick to Harold Lloyd and Snub Pollard, a silent screen comedian, a vaudevillian, a dancer, and band leader.

Early life and career

Born in 1912 in New Orleans, Morrison fell into show business because a child actor being used for a film could not be persuaded to do anything but howl. One of the crew members asked Morrison's father to bring in his newborn son, and since the newest member of the Morrison clan gave the film crew what they needed, they decided to christen him "Sunshine," since he did not cry. Morrison's father added "Sammy" to his son's moniker.

Morrison ultimately appeared in two-reel silent comedies opposite both Harold Lloyd and Snub Pollard, two of the era's biggest comedians. He was the first African American actor to be signed to a long-term contract, signing with comedy producer Hal Roach in 1919. When Roach conceived his Our Gang series, featuring child actors in a natural juvenile setting in 1921, Sammy was the first child recruited. Morrison left the series in 1924 to work in vaudeville, where his talents were featured on the same bills with such up-and-coming acts as Abbott and Costello and Jack Benny.

After touring in Australia with partner Sleepy Williams, Morrison returned to the United States and was chosen by Sam Katzman to be one of the East Side Kids. From the beginning, Morrison tapped into his experiences growing up on the East Side of New York City to shape the character of "Scruno." He spent three years with the gang before leaving to pursue other opportunities, often doing promotional stints with Huntz Hall and Bobby Jordan. Morrison left the Kids when he was offered an opportunity to work with the Step Brothers act, a prominent black stage and film dance act. He was drafted into the army during World War II. After being discharged, he was offered a part in The Bowery Boys series that was just being launched, but he declined the offer. Morrison made mention of this in interviews, saying he "didn't like the setup." [1]

Later years and death

By the late 1960s, it was mentioned by his friend Leo Gorcey in interviews, that Morrison later got into work in military defense plants. Morrison eventually left show business and ended up working for an aircraft-plant making parts for aircraft, apparently doing very well financially.[citation needed] In later years, Morrison appeared in a guest spot on Good Times.

Morrison died of cancer in Lynwood on July 24, 1989. He is interred at Inglewood Park Cemetery in Inglewood California.

Selected filmography

Year Title Role Notes
1916 The Soul of a Child Uncredited
1918 Dolly's Vacation Ebenezer Eczema Abraham White Credited as Sambo
1919 The Little Diplomat George Washington Jones, Jr. Credited as Little Sambo
1920 Number, Please? Suit Duster Uncredited
1920 Waltz Me Around Credited as Sunshine Sammy Morrison
1920 Get Out and Get Under Child on the street Uncredited
1921 Rush Orders Narcissus Credited as Sunshine Sammy Morrison
1922 One Terrible Day Booker T.
1923 No Noise Sunshine Sammy
1924 Fast Company Sunshine Sammy
1925 Haunted Spooks House Boy Uncredited
1926 Between Meals In Need Credited as Sunshine Sammy Morrison
1940 I Can't Give You Anything But Love, Baby Joe Credited as Sammy Morrison
1940 Boys of the City Scruno Credited as Sunshine Sammy Morrison
1940 That Gang of Mine Scruno Credited as Sunshine Sammy Morrison
1940 Pride of the Bowery Scruno Credited as Sunshine Sammy Morrison
1941 Spooks Run Wild Scruno Credited as Sunshine Sammy Morrison
1941 Flying Wild Scruno Credited as Sunshine Sammy Morrison
1941 Bowery Blitzkrieg Scruno Credited as Sunshine Sammy Morrison
1942 Mr. Wise Guy Scruno Uncredited
1942 Let's Get Tough! Scruno Credited as Sunshine Sammy Morrison
1942 Smart Alecks Scruno Credited as Sunshine Sammy
1942 'Neath Brooklyn Bridge Scruno Credited as Sunshine Sammy Morrison
1943 Kid Dynamite Scruno Credited as Sunshine Sammy
1943 Clancy Street Boys Scruno Credited as Sammy Morrison
1943 Ghosts on the Loose Scruno Credited as Sammy Morrison
1944 Follow the Leader (film) Scruno in a dream sequence only Uncredited
1944 Greenwich Village One of the Four Step Brothers Uncredited
1974 Good Times Messenger Episode: "The TV Commercial"


  1. Hayes, David & Walker, Brent The Films of the Bowery Boys Citadel Press; 1st edition (October 1984)


  • Holmstrom, John. The Moving Picture Boy: An International Encyclopaedia from 1895 to 1995, Norwich, Michael Russell, 1996, pp. 56–58.
  • Dye, David. Child and Youth Actors: Filmography of Their Entire Careers, 1914-1985. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co., 1988, p. 165.

External links

Preceded by
Ernie Morrison
Our Gang
Succeeded by
Allen Hoskins

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