Photo via Pixabay
Photo via Pixabay

A memorial service will be held Thursday for singer- dancer Lennie Bluett, a Los Angeles actor who played a Yankee soldier in “Gone with the Wind” and appeared in a host of other classic films.

Bluett died on New Year’s Day, according to his family. Thursday would have been his 97th birthday.

Born in the Jefferson Park area of Los Angeles, Bluett sang as a teenager at parties at Humphrey Bogart’s house, where his mother was a cook for 30 years. His father served as a driver for Buster Keaton.

Bluett performed in such films as “Spirit of Youth” (1938) starring Joe Louis, “Star Spangled Rhythm” (1942) with Bing Crosby and Bob Hope, “Thank Your Lucky Stars” (1943) with Eddie Cantor, “State of the Union” (1948) with Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, and “A Star Is Born” (1954) with Judy Garland.

According to his family, during the making of the 1939 classic “Gone with the Wind,”  Bluett, who was black, spoke to Clark Gable about the on-set outdoor toilets that were posted with signs designating “colored” or “whites only.” Gable then went to director Victor Fleming, and the signs came down, the story goes.

During World War II, Bluett entertained troops in Hawaii and later spent years as a piano bar entertainer with the Royal Viking Line.

Former Los Angeles councilman Tom LaBonge once referred to Bluett as “the mayor of Los Feliz,” his family said.

Survivors include a daughter, Nicole, and a niece, Michelle.

The memorial service is set for 11 a.m. at the First AME Church in Los Angeles.

—Staff and wire reports

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