Leigh Whipper

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Leigh Whipper as the Crab Man in Porgy (1927)

Leigh Rollin Whipper (October 29, 1876 – July 26, 1975) was an American actor on the stage and in motion pictures. He was the first African American to join the Actors' Equity Association, and one of the founders of the Negro Actors Guild of America.[1] He is best known for creating the role of Crooks in the original Broadway production of Of Mice and Men, which he reprised in the 1939 film version.

Whipper was the son of African-American educator, author and activist Frances Rollin Whipper and a nephew of abolitionist William Whipper, attorney William J. Whipper. Educated at Howard University Law School, he left in 1895 and never practiced as a lawyer. Without any dramatic training, he made his first Broadway appearance in Georgia Minstrels. His first film role was in the 1920 silent film The Symbol of the Unconquered.

During the Second World War, Whipper was a member of the steering committee of Negro Division the Hollywood Victory Committee.[2]

Partial filmography[edit]


  1. ^ The New York Public Library Archives & Manuscripts. "Leigh Rollin Whipper papers". Retrieved 5 October 2013.
  2. ^ Watts, Jill (2006). Hattie McDaniel: Black Ambition, White Hollywood. Amistad. p. 209.

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