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Comedian Stepin Fetchit, Once Wealthy, Now a Charity Patient

Apr. 30, 1964 - Stepin Fetchit (pictured in 1929), the Negro comedian who made more than $2 million in films in the 1930s, is now a charity patient at Chicago’s Cook County Hospital.

Mr. Fetchit, who says he will be 72 years old on May 18, appeared as cheerful and content as when he was making motion pictures with Shirley Temple, Will Rogers, and Janet Gaynor.

“Me and Charles DeGaulle,” Mr. Fetchit laughed, in reference to his pending prostate gland operation.

“I figure I made $2 million in the movies,” he said. “But when you give away all your money, you’ve got to go into debt. I had assets of $146 when I filed for bankruptcy in Chicago.”

Today, Mr. Fetchit works small nightclubs occasionally in small towns, but says that “the pay isn’t too much.”

“I do stand-up comedy — no takes from the old movies; that age is gone. No, I wouldn’t like to go back to Hollywood. The movies don’t entertain any more. There’s no more show business.”

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