Walter Lantz Wiki

Scrub Me Mama with a Boogie Beat
Scrub Me Mama With A Boogie Beat-1-.jpg
Original title card

Directed by

Walter Lantz

Produced by

Walter Lantz

Story by

Ben Hardaway

Voices by

Mel Blanc

Music by

Darrell Calker

Animation by

Alex Lovy
Frank Tipper

Distributed by

Universal Pictures

Release date(s)

March 28, 1941 (USA)

Color process


Running time

7 min (one reel)

"Scrub Me Mama with a Boogie Beat" is a pre-Civil Rights 1940 hit boogie-woogie song written by Don Raye. A bawdy, jazzy tune, the song describes a laundry woman from Harlem, New York whose technique is so unusual that people come from all around just to watch her scrub. The Andrews Sisters and Will Bradley & His Orchestra recorded the most successful pop versions of the song, but it is today best recognized as the centerpiece of an eponymous Walter Lantz Studio cartoon from 1941.

The short version, released on March 28, 1941 by Universal Pictures features no director credit (Woody Woodpecker creator Walter Lantz claims to have directed the cartoon himself), with a story by Ben Hardaway, animation by Alex Lovy and Frank Tipper, and voice work by Mel Blanc. The short is awash with blackface stereotypes of African-American people and culture, and of life in the rural Southern United States.

The "Scrub Me Mama" short is today in the public domain. Clips from it are featured in Spike Lee's 2000 satirical film about African-American stereotypes, Bamboozled.

The film's setting, Lazytown, is not to be confused with the children's television program of the same name.


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The short opens to an orchestral rendition of Stephen Foster's "Old Folks at Home", immediately setting the scene in the rural South of blackface minstrelsy. The setting is Lazytown, perhaps the laziest place on earth. Neither the town's residents (all stereotypes of African Americans) nor the animals can be bothered to leave their reclining positions to do anything at all. Their pastoral existence is interrupted by the arrival of a riverboat, carrying a svelte, sophisticated, light-skinned woman from Harlem (who bears a resemblance to Lena Horne), whose physical beauty inspires the entire populace of an all-African-American "Lazytown" to spring into action.

The visiting urbanite admonishes one of the town's residents, "Look here, Mammy. That ain't no way to wash clothes! What you all need is rhythm!" She then proceeds to sing "Scrub Me Mama with a Boogie Beat", which the townfolk slowly join her in performing. Thus begins a montage which is the short's centerpiece. The townsfolk are infected by the song's rhythm and proceed to go about playing instruments, and dancing suggestively. By the time the young light-skinned lady from Harlem is due to reboard her riverboat and return home, she has succeeded in turning a dark-skinned Lazytown into a lively community of swing musicians simply by singing.


In Harlem there's a little place where everyone goes
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To see the way a washer woman washes her clothes
If you like Boogie Woogie rhythm, she's got a beat
Let the Boogie Woogie washer woman give you a treat.
On every afternoon at one the sessions begin
And all the boys from all the bands come down and sit in
They sit around and knock each other out when they play
While the Boogie Woogie washer woman washes all day
Rub diddle ub dub, that's just the way she rubs
Rub diddle ub dub, that's just the way she scrubs
Rub diddle ub dub, she wears out all her tubs
She rubs and rubs her knuckles right on down to the nubs.
Rub diddle ub dub, that's how she kicks it off
Rub diddle ub dub, she keeps it nice and soft
Rub diddle ub dub, till someone hollers
"Aw, scrub me maman, with a Boogie beat!"
You really ought to visit there is you've never been
It doesn't cost a penny, just come down and walk in,
If you like Boogie Woogie rhythm you'll get a treat,
Let the Boogie Woogie washer woman give you the beat.