Cab Calloway made his final widescreen appearance in the Blues Brothers film. Cab started out in Baltimore and started his first band in New York.
In 1931 he replaced Duke Ellington as orchestra leader at Harlem’s famous Cotton Club. His trademarked Hi De Ho was already a timeless hit. He appeared as an animation cartoon character in quite few “Betty Boop” cartoons produced by Max and Dave Fleischer, singing Minnie the Moocher and St. James Infirmary Blues – about drugs and sex basically. George and Ira Gershwin’s opera Porgy and Bess had some of its inspiration due to Cab and he substituted for Sammy Davis Jr. on the soundtrack recording of the 1959 film version.
Films he appeared in included The Singing Kid (1936), Manhattan Merry-Go-Round (1937) and 20th Century-Fox musical Stormy Weather in which he co-starred with Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, Lena Horne and Dooley Wilson.
In 1958, Cab left his orchestra, went solo for several years, and appeared on stage as Horace Vandergelder in the all-black version of Broadway’s Hello Dolly. He appeared in bit parts in many films – he was a gambler in The Cincinnati Kid playing poker against Steve McQueen.
In 1976 Cab Calloway wrote his autobiography titled Of Minnie the Moocher and Me.