Chico and the Man's Scatman Crothers Was Married for 49 Years before He Died from Cancer

Actor Scatman Crothers died in his sleep after losing a fight to lung cancer. The actor who died at the age of 76 became famous after his character, Louie, the garbage collector on ''Chico and the Man."

Before Crothers' death, he was bedridden for some time after suffering from a few on and off coma. According to his publicist, Jerry Zelenka, the actor suffered from a malignant cancerous tumor behind the left lung, which later spread to his esophagus. 

 American actor Scatman Crothers in the film 'Silver Streak' in 1976 | Photo: GettyImages

American actor Scatman Crothers in the film 'Silver Streak' in 1976 | Photo: GettyImages

HE HAD HIS WIFE BY HIS SIDE 

On November 22, 1986, Crothers died in his sleep, and the legend was mourned by many. One person, in particular, his wife of 49 years Helen Crothers was with him as he took his final breath. 

Helen stood by her husband during his battles and fights with the terrible disease before he finally gave up the ghost

Scatman Crothers playing Rosey on the ABC Television Network drama "Vega$" | Photo: GettyImages

Scatman Crothers playing Rosey on the ABC Television Network drama "Vega$" | Photo: GettyImages

HOW THE NAME "SCATMAN" CAME TO BE

Scatman, who was born Benjamin Sherman Crothers, would later decide to use the name "Scatman," which was formed when he wanted to audition for a radio show in 1932. 

"Even after the doctor told Scatman he had less than six months to live; he still wouldn't stop working."

The director of the show suggested that he needed to change his name to a more suitable one for the job. So the actor, on the spot, asked that the director call him the name he was famously known as through the course of his career — Scatman. 

''I told him to call me Scatman because I do a lot of scat singing," Crothers' said

Musician Scatman Crothers performing at an event on October 16th, 1975 | Photo: GettyImages

Musician Scatman Crothers performing at an event on October 16th, 1975 | Photo: GettyImages

HOW FAMOUS SCAT SINGING

Scat singing involves adding meaningless syllables to a melody, an art mastered by Scatman at a very young age. 

While he had made his first movie appearance back in 1935 in the nine-minutes movie, "Symphony in Black" with Duke Ellington and Billie Holiday, his acting career commenced adequately in 1951 with his inclusion in the fifty-four-minute Minstrel-Show 'Yes Sir, Mr. Bones."

 
Scatman Crothers died after a long battle with cancer on November 22, 1986 | Photo: GettyImages

Scatman Crothers died after a long battle with cancer on November 22, 1986 | Photo: GettyImages

THE LAUNCH OF SCATMAN'S ACTING CAREER

Except for his famous role on NBC's "Chico and the Man," he also worked on a lot of other movies. Some of them include, "Hill Street Blues," "Hotel," "McMillan and Wife," and so on. He also taught himself how to play drums, play the guitar, and sing when he was just a teenager. 

In the mid-1930s, Scatman put together a little band that toured around the middle west. His music also took him to Los Angeles, where he became the first African American to ever feature on the Los Angeles television show, ''Dixie Showboat." 

Scatman dressed as Santa Claus | Photo: GettyImages

Scatman dressed as Santa Claus | Photo: GettyImages

SCATMAN WAS DEVOTED TO HIS WORK

Even after the doctor told Scatman he had less than six months to live; he still wouldn't stop working. He went on to play parts in the television series, "Morningstar/Eveningstar" and also in "Twilight Zone." 

Scatman was born into a family that loves music. His dad played the guitar, his brother Lewis blew the coronet, while his mom and sisters sang. The actor/musician is survived by his beautiful wife Helen, and daughter, Donna Daniels.