Did not know how to play the piano. In Casablanca, the piano was empty and the music came from a pianist located behind the camera.
Dooley won the role of Sam over top contender Clarence Muse who later played Sam in a 1950s TV adaptation of "Casablanca."
Dooley's piano playing in the film was actually performed by pianist/composer/songwriter Elliot Carpenter, who was placed where Wilson could see and imitate his hand movements. The only black talent on the Casablanca (1942) set, Wilson and Carpenter became and remained friends.
There is a line often misquoted from Casablanca (1942). In a scene where Rick (Bogart) sits in the darkened nightclub, alone except for Dooley's piano-playing Sam, he is seen drinking and tormenting himself by insisting that Sam repeatedly play "As Time Goes By," saying, "You played it for her, you can play it for me... If she can stand it, I can! Play it!" Bogart's line is often misquoted as, "Play it again, Sam!"
Though Wilson received only $350 per week for Casablanca (1942), the cost Paramount imposed on Warner Bros. for the loanout resulted in Wilson being the most expensive of Casablanca's supporting cast.
Was on the board of directors of the Negro Actors Guild of America.