Wilbur White was a nightclub singer on the South Side of Chicago whose bluesy growl wielded so much power that he was nicknamed Hi-Fi. He’d been in the clubs since the 1950s, and although I hear he put on a knockout of a show, that never translated into record sales. Speaking of knockouts, he played bit roles on Sanford & Son and in the boxing-in-prison movie Penitentiary (1979). In the film, he was cast as the gap-toothed transvestite Sweet Pea. Behind the scenes, the film was so under-budget that White took initiative and collected food stamps from cast and crew, becoming the production’s official caterer. He fed over one hundred actors and technical staffers for the final week of shooting. That’s good ol’ Chicago can-do!
here’s a clip of perhaps his signature number, Bulldog.
and here’s the trailer for the film:
NOTE: view the comments on this post for first hand stories and recollections…