Sunshine Sammy Morrison

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Sunshine Sammy Morrison
Ernie Morrison as Sunshine Sammy in Dogs of War (1923)
Ernest Fredric Morrison

(1912-12-20)December 20, 1912
New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.
DiedJuly 24, 1989(1989-07-24) (aged 76)
Other namesSunshine Sammy
Little Sambo
Smiling Sambo
  • Actor
  • vaudeville
  • comedian
  • dancer
  • band leader
Years active1916-1974

Ernest Fredric Morrison (December 20, 1912 – July 24, 1989) was an American child actor, comedian, vaudevillian and dancer who also performed under the stage name Sunshine Sammy Morrison and was the only black member of the East Side Kids, and also was an original performer in the Our Gang short film series franchise (the 1920s silent film series).

Early life[edit]

Born in 1912 in New Orleans, Morrison was the brother of Florence Morrison and stage and screen actress Dorothy Morrison, he 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 Ernest Morrison Sr. 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 to create his stage name of Sunshine Sammy.


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 studio executive and 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 January 1925, after Roach refused his father's demand of a $75 a week pay rise (taking his weekly wage to $300),[1] and went 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."[2]

Morrison later worked as a quality control inspector for an aerospace company in Compton, California.[3] In later years, Morrison appeared in a guest spot on the sitcom Good Times airing in 1974.

Morrison died of cancer in Lynwood aged 76, on July 24, 1989. He is interred at Inglewood Park Cemetery in Inglewood, California, where later Our Gang cast member Buckwheat Thomas is also buried.

Selected filmography[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1916 The Soul of a Child Uncredited
1918 Dolly's Vacation Ebenezer Eczema Abraham White Credited as Sambo
1919 Peggy Does Her Darndest Snowball Snow
1919 The Little Diplomat George Washington Jones, Jr. Credited as Little Sambo
1920 Haunted Spooks House Boy Uncredited
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.
1922 Saturday Morning Sorghum
1923 The Champeen Sammy
1923 Sunday Calm Sammy
1923 The Cobbler Ernie
1923 A Pleasant Journey Ernie
1923 No Noise Sunshine Sammy
1924 Fast Company Sunshine Sammy
1924 It's a Bear Sunshine Sammy
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 The Ape Man Copyboy Uncredited
1943 Ghosts on the Loose Scruno Credited as Sammy Morrison
1944 Follow the Leader 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. ^ 'Sunshine Sammy Quits Hal Roach', the Afro-American, 10 January 1925
  2. ^ Hayes, David & Walker, Brent The Films of the Bowery Boys Citadel Press; 1st edition (October 1984)
  3. ^ Maharaj, Davan (31 Jul 1989). "'Little Rascal' player Ernest Morrison dies". Los Angeles Times. p. F16. Retrieved 12 Nov 2019.


  • 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[edit]

Preceded by
Ernie Morrison
Our Gang
Succeeded by