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Dooley Wilson

Actor / Pianist

Born: 3 April 1886
Died: 30 May 1953
Birthplace: Tyler, Texas
Best known as: Sam in the movie Casablanca

Name at birth: Arthur Wilson

Dooley Wilson played Sam, the cheerful piano player and sidekick to saloonkeeper Rick Blaine in the classic 1942 film Casablanca. He was the Sam in the famously misremembered line "Play it again, Sam" -- a phrase which was never actually spoken in the film. Wilson, an African-American, was a drummer and singer who led his own band in the 1920s, touring nightclubs in London and Paris. In the 1930s he took up acting for good, playing supporting roles onstage and in a series of modest films. Casablanca, in which he sang the romantic tune "As Time Goes By" to Humphrey Bogart as Rick and Ingrid Bergman as the beautiful Ilsa Lund, was by far Wilson's most famous role. His other films included My Favorite Blonde (1942, with Bob Hope), Stormy Weather (1943, with Lena Horne and the Nicholas Brothers), and the 1951 western Passage West.

Extra credit: Wilson sang his own part in Casablanca, but his piano playing was dubbed by a studio pianist... According to Roger Ebert's commentary on the Casablanca DVD, Wilson got the nickname "Dooley" from playing vaudeville Irish characters in whiteface makeup.

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