sheriff bart cleavon littleCleavon Little played the coolest law man in the West – Sheriff Bart. The role of Bart was orignally intended for Richard Pryor, but due to the controversial nature of Pryor’s stand-up routines and his background, Mel Brooks couldn’t secure financing for the project with Pryor in that role. So Pryor was made a co-writer of the script, and Cleavon Little played Bart. Pryor later got to star in a different western comedy – AdiĆ³s Amigo in 1976.

The scene in which Cleavon Little draws a gun upon himself to save him from the townspeople’s wrath was based on a childhood incident from Mel Brooks. Brooks said that once, to his disbelief, he stole some gum and a water pistol from a drugstore; when a store worker tried to stop him, Brooks held the worker at bay with the very water pistol he had just fingered from the store.

Cleavon Little turned out the be the perfect actor for Sheriff Bart, playing it at the same time both straight and comedic. And as far as we know he was the first and last sheriff to have Gucci saddle bags…

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