Netflix's Dolemite is My Name is a pure delight to behold. It eschews the typical biopic narrative of portraying the dangers of success and fame in favor of a more positive story reflecting Rudy Ray Moore's ultimate message of striving for one's goal no matter how impossible it may seem.
Self-financing a movie today is nearly impossible, and it was even harder in the mid 1970s when Moore made Dolemite. As fascinating and accurate as the Eddie Murphy movie is, it does leave out several key details and interesting tidbits. The following list will look to remedy this and garner and even deeper appreciation of the revolutionary comedian and pop culture icon.
10 He Was A Preacher
Before adopting several of the most legendary foul-mouthed characters in the history of comedy, Moore spent some time as a preacher. This may seem incongruous to his later calling, but he was not as partial to extreme cussing like his characters were. To him, the act and use of profanity was a form of poetry. At the same time, the charisma and ability to hold a crowd as a nightclub performer is not dissimilar to the skills one needs to be a successful preacher. No one wants to go to church if their pastor is boring and uninspiring.
9 He Was In The Army
In 1950, Moore joined the army and stayed enlisted for almost three years. During his time in the service, he entertained the troops with singing and dancing. It was during this stint where he discovered his knack for comedy. A lot of his time in the service was spent in Kentucky, but he also went abroad to places like Korea and Berlin. The movie briefly mentions one of his nicknames, the "Harlem Hillbilly," which was birthed while in the army for his shtick of singing country tunes in a contemporary R & B style.
8 The Dozens
The movie documents the origins of the Dolemite character and his signature comedic stylings coming from a homeless man named Rico, but it fails to mention the influence of a famous trash-talking game called The Dozens. The game was simple and involved two competitors hurling trash talk to each other while a crowd of onlookers cheered at the best insults. It's not dissimilar to modern day rap battles. Considering Moore's influence on hip hop, it is no wonder he would be influenced by a game that would have its own impact on the musical genre.
7 Disco Godfather
Moore's first several films saw him playing pimps and hustlers. Disco Godfather sees him playing a more altruistic character on a journey to rid the streets of narcotics. Instead of stepping into the shoes of a criminal, Moore's character is a retired police officer who makes a living as a DJ.
The change in persona was a deliberate one in order to present a cleaner, more positive character. Fortunately, the tonal change doesn't remove any of the charm for which his movies are known.
6 Keith David
Keith David is famous for his roles in several classic '80s films like The Thing, They Live, and Platoon. Before any of those notable parts, however, he was another struggling actor trying to get any part he could. One of those parts was an uncredited appearance in a nightclub scene during Disco Godfather.
Blink and you'll miss it, but David is there among the crowd of patrons. All the best actors have humble beginnings, and having a bit part in a Rudy Ray Moore film is as good an introduction to the art as any.
5 Dootsie Williams
Dolemite is My Name opens with Moore trying to get his music played at a local radio station to no avail. While his prior music career is documented, no mention of Dootsie Williams pops up. Williams was the one who gave Moore his first record contract, as he was a producer and owned a record label. Moore's records garnered no success, but Williams' label also recorded Red Foxx, who would later go on to star in Sanford and Son. Williams also produced and wrote the lyrics to the Penguins' doo-wop classic "Earth Angel."
4 Guest Appearances
While Dolemite made the most appearances in the '70s, Moore still donned the persona for guest appearances every once in a while. Besides the numerous cameos on hip hop records, he also showed up on television. An episode of Martin called "The Players Came Home" sees the comedian play himself doing the Dolemite character. The last time he played Dolemite on screen, however, was in Big Money Hustlas, a movie made by the Insane Clown Posse.
3 D'Urville Martin
The director and antagonist of Dolemite, D'Urville Martin, really was in Rosemary's Baby like the movie says, but he was almost on one of the most beloved sitcoms in television history. All in the Family had two pilots before becoming a series.
During both of these productions, D'Urville played Lionel Jefferson, a role that would ultimately go to Mike Evans. Had D'Urville been given the part for the show, Dolemite probably would have been a very different movie.
2 The Name Dolemite
Dolemite is a cool sounding name, but there is more meaning behind the name than just the way it feels. Dolomite is in fact mineral, and despite its slightly different spelling, the pronunciation is nearly identical. The question still remains — how did Rico the homeless man come up with it? Did he really know someone who used to walk around calling themselves Dolemite? If so, how did that person obtain or come up with the nickname? Somewhere, someone must have come across the mineral and thought it would make a sweet moniker.
1 He Was Friends With Eddie Murphy
This detail was understandably left out of the film as it would seem awfully narcissistic of Eddie Murphy to include it, but it remains a fact none the less. The two comedians knew each other for years, and Murphy had wanted to make a biopic about Rudy Ray Moore while the legend was still alive. According to Murphy, Moore wasn't too keen on the idea, and instead wanted to tour with his buddy. Moore passed away in 2008, and it took another eleven years for Dolemite is My Name to get produced, and the world is a better place for it.