Florian Slappey was a fictional character, often working as a private detective, who was created by author Octavus Roy Cohen and who featured in hundreds of stories published in The Saturday Evening Post between 1919 and 1944, and occasionally in other periodicals.
Slappey was described as tall, thin, gentlemanly, and fashionable— a kind of "Beau Brummell of Birmingham", though he was often mocked, maligned and mistrusted. Originally published under the heading of "Darktown Birmingham", most of the stories were set in Harlem, New York, where Slappey had moved in search of greater adventures.
The "Darktown Birmingham" stories were very popular at the time, in part because of Cohen's flair for Black dialect and humor. They were cited as one of the inspirations for the "Amos & Andy" radio program. To modern audiences the caricatures are generally perceived as highly offensive.
Early on, Cohen adapted his collection of stories, including a several with Florian Slappey, into a play entitled "Come Seven" (a reference to dice games). It was produced by George Broadhurst at his Broadhurst Theater on Broadway. The play, which was performed by white actors in blackface, enjoyed a 72-show run between July and September 1920. Earle Foxe played Florian Slappey. Al Bernard and Walter Haenschen provided the music for the show, including a hit song, "Read 'Em and Weep."
In 1929 the Christie Film Company produced a series of four 2-reel motion pictures, marketed as "Birmingham Black Bottom", based on Florian Slappey stories. Alfred Cohn and Spencer Williams adapted the stories for the screen. Notably, they were filmed using all-Black casts, supplemented by Harlem's Lafayette Players.
In 1951 Florian Slappey was featured in an unsold television pilot called "The Private Eye" directed by Erle Kenton and starring Milton Wood.
- Cohen, Octavus Roy (1920) Come Seven
- Cohen, Octavus Roy (1928) Florian Slappey Goes Abroad
- Cohen, Octavus Roy (1932) Carbon Copies
- Cohen, Octavus Roy (1938) Florian Slappey
- The Melancholy Dame (1929) Christie Film Company (directed by Arvid Gillstrom, with Charles Olden as Florian Slappey)
- Music Hath Charms (1929) Christie Film Company (directed by C. Walter Graham, with Harry Tracy as Florian Slappey)
- The Framing of the Shrew (1929) Christie Film Company (directed by Arvid Gillstrom, with Charles Olden as Florian Slappey)
- The Lady Fare (1929) Christie Film Company (directed by William Watson, with Leroy Broomfield as Florian Slappey)
- Drew, Bernard A. (2015) Black Stereotypes in Popular Series Fiction, 1851-1955: Jim Crow Era Authors and Their Characters. McFarland & Company ISBN 9780786474103
- Smith, Kevin Burton (April 25, 2019) "Florian Slappey." ThrillingDetective.com - accessed February 26, 2023