After accepting the Sominex Man of the Year Award in 1938, he returned to his home town of Mooers, New York, a sleepy hamlet in the foothills of the Adirondacks.
Dogged by rumours that he'd slept with Walt Disney's wife on the set of Snow White, he was unable to find screen work. Instead. Sleepy spent nine years working for a state road crew, where his narcolepty went unnoticed.
Fired in 1948 for assaulting a supervisor who was whistling while he worked, Sleepy won a bit part in an off-Broadway production, playing the century in The Rip Van Winkle Story.
Scathing reviews and the early closing of the play embittered Sleepy, who declared in an interview with the New York Times (July, 1948) that he was "sick and tired of working with fairy tale figures, and of being cast as sleeping all the time."
Instead, he said, he wanted, "co-workers awake."
The last comment caught the attention of Senator Joe McCarthy, and Sleepy was blackballed for espousing Communist ideology.
He wandered for years before making headlines in 1952, when he engaged in a fling with Betty Boop.
"What a turn-on she is," he told Variety, "You should see her comic strip."
After a long legal battle concerning the paternity of Swee'Pea, Sleepy left the country in 1956 and was not heard from again.
His death in 1968 in Moscow led many experts to believe he had long been a sleeper for the KGB.