Edgar “Blue” Washington: From Baseball to Bit Player

Another post for Black History Month; it also happens to be Blue’s birthday. 

Edgar “Blue” Washington (1898-1970) had an unusual path into the movie business. Prior to stepping before the cameras he was a star baseball player in the Negro Leagues.

According to IMDB, between 1919 and 1961, Blue appeared in 75 movies, among them Haunted Spooks (1920) and Welcome Danger (1933) with Harold Lloyd; Hallelujah (1929), Rio Rita (1929), The Cohens and the Kellys in Africa (1930, a rare triple-threat with Jewish, Irish, and African-American stereotypes all in one comedy!), Haunted Gold (1932) with John Wayne, King Kong (1933), Roman Scandals (1933) and Ali Baba Goes to Town (1937) with Eddie Cantor; Belle of the Nineties (1934) with Mae West; The Virginia Judge (1935); Annie Oakley (1935), The Plainsman (1936), The Cowboy and the Lady (1938), Rose of Washington Square (1939), The Long Voyage Home (1940), Road to Morocco (1942), Angels in the Outfield (1951), The Kid from Left Field (1953), and The Hustler (1961, his last).

Washington’s roles ranged from large-ish and significant, as when he was John Wayne’s sidekick in Haunted Gold, a rarity for African Americans in westerns….to supernumerary, as when he played natives and litter bearers in things like King Kong and countless Tarzan movies. According to this great article, Woody Strode claimed Washington starred in a movie called Orsmy the Faithful Servant, which was scrapped after Washington missed shooting days (which sounds similar to complaints made about him during his baseball career). Several other members of Washington’s relatives were also professional athletes. Read more about Blue Washington’s career and his family here. 

For more on silent film and classic comedy, please read Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube