Mel Watkins


Stepin Fetchit: The Life and Times of Lincoln Perry


Mel Watkins, a former editor and writer for The New York Times Book Review, is the author of Stepin Fetchit: The Life and Times of Lincoln Perry; Dancing with Strangers, a Literary Guild Selection; and the highly acclaimed On the Real Side: A History of African American Comedy. He lives in New York City.

Praise for Stepin Fetchit:

The name Stepin Fetchit evokes images of an African-American caricature, a lazy, cowering fixture in early films. [Watkins] details the story behind the stereotype, examining the life and career of actor Lincoln Perry (1902–1985), creator of Stepin Fetchit.... Watkins does an excellent job of capturing the distinctive voice of a determined and savvy film pioneer.
— Publishers Weekly
Beautifully evokes the ‘times’ of Stepin Fetchit, providing a surprisingly fresh look at the complex history of blackness and the silver screen.
— Entertainment Weekly
Commendable . . . thorough and authoritative.
— The New York Times
Enthralling. . . .Watkins goes back . . . to the vaudeville road, the black-theater circuit, the tent shows, dance clubs, burlesque houses, carnivals, cabarets, race riots and lynch mobs. Stepin Fetchit is a shadow history of performance as survival.
— Harper's 
Fascinating. . . . An engrossing study of Perry.
— Essence