Slappy White
Slappy White
Slappy White, shown here at a Friars' Club roast, appeared as Melvin White, Fres's TV watching buddy on ''Sanford and Son'' in Seasons 1-2.
Vital Information
Born: (1921-09-20)September 20, 1921
Birthplace: Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.
Died November 7, 1995(1995-11-07) (aged 74)
Deathplace: Brigantine, New Jersey, U.S.
Actor, Comedian, and entertainer
Years active: 1940-1995, his death
Family/Personal information
Spouse(s): Lavern Baker, 1961-1969 (divorced)
Character/series involvement
Appeared on/
Involved with:
Sanford and Son
Character(s) played: Melvin White in Seasons 1-2
Sanford and Son retro Wiki Script

Slappy White (born Melvin Edward White on September 20, 1921 - died November 7, 1995) played the role of Melvin White, an old friend of Fred's who usually watched TV with him at the Sanford home, in the first season and the first episode of second season of Sanford and Son. A veteran entertainer, stand up-comedian and actor, Slappy worked often with longtime friend Redd Foxx on the Chitlin' circuit of stand-up comedy during the 1950s and 1960s. In addition to his appearances on Sanford and Son, Slappy appeared on the television shows That's My Mama, Blossom, and the CBS-TV sitcom Cybill which starred actress Cybill Sheperd , and in the films Mr. Saturday Night which starred Billy Crystal (1994), and Amazon Women on the Moon (1986).

Early life and careerEdit

Born in Baltimore, Slappy began his career as a dancer and did not take to comedy until 1940 when he joined with a fellow hoofer and labeled his act the "Two Zephyrs". The "Two Zephyrs" made the circuits together for over four years appearing with such notables as Lionel Hampton, Count Basie, Duke Ellington and many others. With his team "Slappy" was first introduced to Californians, making his West Coast debut in Los Angeles at the Orpheum Theatre along with Louie Armstrong.

After "Two Zephyrs" came "Lewis and White" his second successful comedy team. "Lewis and White" traveled together for several years and appeared with such greats as Johnny Otis, The Ink Spots, Count Basie, Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton. The team with which he is best known is "Redd Foxx and 'Slappy' White". Foxx and White toured from coast to coast with Billy Eckstine Orchestra for over four years. "Slappy's" solo career started in 1951 when Dinah Washington requested him to introduce her act at the "Black Hawk" in San Francisco. "Slappy" was such a hit with the patrons, she kept him on as her opening act.

In 1972 he auditioned for and got the role of Melvin White, Fred's TV viewing buddy, named after his given name on his friend Redd Foxx's TV show Sanford and Son. (Redd Foxx's character was also his brothers real name "Fred Sanford") In contrast to the off-color humor of the Friars' roasts, Slappy also wrote and performed a more conservative comedy routine using one black and one white glove while reciting his poem about equality between men. White performed the routine many times during the civil rights movement in America, and he said that President John F. Kennedy once gave it a standing ovation.

White enjoyed a minor renaissance after his death owing to bootleg recordings of Friars' Club roasts that became available through comedy record outlets.


Slappy died in 1995 in Brigantine, New Jersey.

External linksEdit