Don Bexley: From the Borscht Belt to “Bubba”

Like many of the supporting players on Sanford and Son (1972-77), Don Bexley (1910-97), who played Fred Sanford’s best friend Bubba, was an old cohort of Redd Foxx’s from the Chitlin’ Circuit. The son of a classically trained singer and a Bible scholar, Bexley was an all-around entertainer. He could sing, dance, act, do stand-up, and even conducted bands. He is credited with being the first African American comedian to work the Catskills, a barrier he crossed in the 1940s. He also danced in night clubs in a trio called The Three Shades of Rhythm, and acted parts in legit theatre.

Some claim he’s in Cotton Comes to Harlem (1970), although that’s not listed among his IMDB credits. That aside, he begins to aside screen credits at the age of 62 in 1972. That year he appeared in a bit role as a skycap in What’s Up, Doc (1972), and began his stint as Foxx’s second banana on Sanford and Son, and continued in his role as Bubba after Foxx left in the successor series Sanford Arms (1977). He also appeared in the films Sparkle (1976), a TV movie remake of Uptown Saturday Night (1979), a remake of Little Miss Marker (1980), and Vibes (1986). He had recurring roles on the crime drama Hunter (1986-91), and also appeared on Laverne and Shirley, Cheers and Hill Street Blues, among other TV shows. His last appearances were on the sitcom True Colors (1990-91).