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NEW YORK, Oct 18, 2005 (UPI via COMTEX) -- New York's Museum of Modern Art is launching a new exhibit as a companion to Mel Watkins' book "Stepin Fetchit: The Life and Time of Lincoln Perry."
Stepin Fetchit, whose real name was Lincoln Theodore Monroe Andrew Perry, made millions of dollars -- unprecedented for a black actor at the time -- playing what he called "the world's laziest man" in 1920s and 1930s Hollywood films.
His shuffling dimwit persona made him both loved and loathed as he became the first U.S. African-American film superstar, The New York Daily News reported Tuesday. The love gave him marqee billing, but he was criticized for portraying a negative image of black men.
Both Watkin's book and the museum's exhibit, which bow Wednesday, explore the controversy surrounding Perry's life and his rise to stardom.
A museum spokesman told the Daily News Perry has been "dismissed and underappreciated" as an actor and a performer.
The Rev. Al Sharpton said the image portrayed by Perry as Stepin Fetchit is still a difficult one for many African-Americans.
Copyright 2005 by United Press International