Dorothy Morrison Green, Silent Film Actress

African American child actors, Dorothy Morrison Green and her brother Ernie "Sunshine Sammy" Morrison gained fame in the Our Gang series of films during the birth of the Hollywood era.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    African American child actors, Dorothy Morrison Green and her brother Ernie "Sunshine Sammy" Morrison gained fame in the Our Gang series of films during the birth of the Hollywood era.

    When we think of films from the silent era, we mostly think of white actors in heavy makeup, but the African American community was represented on screen, even back then.

    Two such actors were child stars Ernie "Sunshine Sammy" Morrison and his sister Dorothy, of Our Gang fame.

    Ernie got his role on the Our Gang series, because their father worked for a Los Angeles family who had connections in the film industry.

    "They were looking for little black boys, and naturally they were asking my father about it," says Dorothy. "And this is how we fell into it."

    7-year-old Ernie was the first African American actor, of any age, to be signed to a long-term contract.

    Dorothy joined the cast later.

    She then went on to play in a number of features and shorts, but only as a child. She remembers going to school on the set and thinking that everyone must live like this.

    "It was fun," recalls Dorothy. "Whatever I was doing, it was just having a good time."

    When Dorothy left Hollywood, her brother hit the road on the vaudeville circuit, rubbing elbows with the likes of Sammy Davis Jr.

    Her brother is gone now, but at 93, Dorothy Morrison has a simple survival guide to living long and happy.

    "Don't worry about what somebody else is asking you," says Dorothy. "Always make sure you know who you are."

    And that's what will carry her, demurely but not silently, to her 94th birthday, and, we hope, well beyond.

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