From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)
Bell, Spencer(born: 1887 - died: 1935) Spencer Bell, born in Lexington, KY, was one of the first African American actors to receive a movie contract in Hollywood during the era of silent films. Bell was a comedian who had acted in vaudeville and minstrel shows. He performed on screen in Larry Semon movies: No Wedding Bells and The Gown Shop in 1923 and Kid Speed in 1924.
Bell played the role of the cowardly lion in the 1925 Vitagraph production of Wizard of Oz and appeared in Peacock Fan in 1929. He was assistant casting director in Queen of the Jungles, one of his last assignments prior to his death. Bell was demeaningly billed as G. Howe Black in Semon's movies, and in his role as the cowardly lion, the subtitle read "Snowball."
Spencer Bell lived at 1457 1/2 48th Street in Los Angeles. He was a World War I U.S. Army veteran. He is buried at the Sawtell Military Cemetery in Los Angeles. For more see "Death claims famous actor Spencer Bell," Los Angeles Sentinel, 8/22/1935, p. 1; "Spencer Bell" at the lordheath.com website; and Joe Gans, by C. Aycock and M. Scott.