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Richard Roundtree

Actor Richard Roundtree was born on July 9, 1942 in New Rochelle, New York to John and Kathryn Roundtree. Roundtree attended New Rochelle High School, where he played on the school’s nationally ranked football team. In 1961, Roundtree earned an athletic scholarship to attend Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois, but he left school in 1963 to pursue a career as an actor and a model.

In 1963, Roundtree was hired by Eunice Johnson of Ebony magazine to model in the Ebony Fashion Fair. Roundtree went on to join the Negro Ensemble Company in 1967, where he played the role of boxing legend Jack Johnson in the company’s production of The Great White Hope. In 1971, Roundtree was cast in his most notable role as John Shaft in the 1971 action film, Shaft, directed by Gordon Parks. The popularity of the film turned Roundtree into a star with two subsequent sequels: Shaft’s Big Score (1972) and Shaft in Africa (1973). Following the success of the Shaft trilogy, Roundtree was awarded the Golden Globe Most Promising Newcomer Award in 1972. Roundtree went on to appear in several films throughout the 1970s and 1980s, including Earthquake (1974), Escape to Athena (1979), A Game for Vultures (1979), and Day of The Assassin (1979). In 1977, Roundtree appeared in the ABC television miniseries Roots, based on Alex Haley’s book Roots: The Saga of an American Family. Roundtree reprised the role of John Shaft in the 2000 film Shaft, starring Samuel L. Jackson as his character’s nephew, and directed by John Singleton. Roundtree has also appeared in several television series including Soul Food, Desperate Housewives, Heroes, and Grey’s Anatomy. In 2013, he became a series regular on the television show Being Mary Jane, appearing alongside actresses Gabrielle Union and Margaret Avery. Roundtree also appeared in multiple episodes of FOX’s television series Star in 2017 and 2018.

In 1993, Roundtree was diagnosed with a rare form of male breast cancer, and underwent chemotherapy and a double mastectomy. Since then, Roundtree has served as a breast cancer awareness advocate for the Susan G. Komen Foundation and the Know Your Score Men’s Health Initiative. Roundtree has received the MTV Lifetime Achievement Award for his role as Shaft, as well as an Image Award nomination in 1998, a Peabody Award in 2002 and a Black Theater Alliance Award Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010.

Richard Roundtree was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 1, 2018.

Accession Number

A2018.040

Sex

Male

Interview Date

3/1/2018

Last Name

Roundtree

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
First Name

Richard

Birth City, State, Country

New Rochelle

HM ID

ROU02

Favorite Season

Late Spring

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Favorite Quote

N/A

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

7/9/1942

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Favorite Food

Indonesian

Short Description

Actor Richard Roundtree (1942 - ) was best known for his role as John Shaft in the 1971 action film Shaft. His 152 television and film credits also include roles in Being Mary Jane and Roots.

Favorite Color

Blue

Cedric The Entertainer

Actor and comedian Cedric “The Entertainer” Kyles was born on April 24, 1964 in Jefferson City, Missouri to Kittrell Kyles and Rosetta Boyce Kyles. After junior high school, Kyles and his family moved to Berkeley, Missouri, where he graduated from Berkeley High School in 1982. Kyles received his B.A. degree in mass communication from Southeast Missouri State University in 1987, and was hired at State Farm Insurance. He began performing stand-up comedy around the same time, and was a winner of the Miller Lite Comedy Search in 1990.

Kyles first appeared on television in 1992, on the variety show, It’s Showtime at the Apollo. The following year, he served as host of BET’s ComicView, and in 1995, he hosted HBO’s Def Comedy Jam. Kyles started the Cedric the Entertainer Charitable Foundation, Inc. in 1995 with his sister in St. Louis, Missouri. He got his big break on television as Cedric “Jackie” Robinson, a supporting role on The Steve Harvey Show, in 1996. Kyles then toured for two years with his co-star Steve Harvey, and comedians Bernie Mac and D.L. Hughley on the highest selling and most popular comedy tour of all time, The Kings of Comedy tour. The tour was filmed by Spike Lee and later made into a film, The Original Kings of Comedy, which grossed $40 million, and catapulted the careers of Kyles and his tour mates.

Kyles made his film debut in 1998 in the movie Ride. He went on to appear in over thirty films, including Big Momma’s House, Ice Age, the Barbershop franchise, the Madagascar franchise, Johnson Family Vacation, The Honeymooners, Code Name: The Cleaner, and the Planes franchise. Kyles also narrated the animated series The Proud Family, starting in 2001. In 2002, he co-founded his own production company, A Bird and A Bear Entertainment. He made his directorial debut in 2010 with the film, Dance Fu. Kyles also hosted the game shows It’s Worth What? and Who Wants to be a Millionaire, and received the lead role in a new sitcom in 2012, The Soul Man.

Kyles was recognized by BET in 1994 for his work as host of ComicView with the Richard Pryor Comic of the Year Award. He received four NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy for his work on The Steve Harvey Show, and another for his voice-acting in The Proud Family. Comedy Central placed Kyles on its “100 Greatest Stand-Ups of All Time” in 2004, and he was selected as lead comedian for the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in 2005. He was inducted into the St. Louis Walk of Fame in 2008.

Cedric “The Entertainer” Kyles was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 31, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.192

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/31/2014

Last Name

Kyles

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Antonio

Occupation
Schools

Berkeley High School

Southeast Missouri State University

First Name

Cedric

Birth City, State, Country

Jefferson City

HM ID

KYL02

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Missouri

Favorite Vacation Destination

Turks and Caicos Islands

Favorite Quote

I Wish A Motherfucker Would.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

4/24/1964

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Pizza

Short Description

Film actor and comedian Cedric The Entertainer (1964 - ) was one of the original Kings of Comedy. He starred in the television sitcom ‘The Steve Harvey Show’ and the ‘Barbershop’ film franchise.

Employment

State Farm Insurance

Black Entertainment Television

Home Box Office

WB Television Network

The Kings of Comedy Tour

Anheuser–Busch InBev

The Disney Channel

A Bird and A Bear Entertainment

Favorite Color

Chocolate Brown

Timing Pairs
0,0:7040,220:11360,300:12000,312:13600,331:39500,480:46240,558:64926,872:65218,950:65656,957:73306,1051:79468,1147:84603,1256:108604,1715:110676,1777:135449,2085:136179,2168:141143,2286:160710,2498$0,0:2880,61:7840,180:26660,478:31835,584:32249,591:33422,612:37976,726:48940,850:50344,874:72660,1356:114695,1888:119345,2008:131366,2177:134678,2245:141158,2333:141518,2339:149045,2420:149420,2426:168352,2751:169342,2781:171916,2847:172708,2863:173368,2888:179750,2983
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Cedric The Entertainer's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Cedric The Entertainer lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Cedric The Entertainer talks about his maternal grandparents' occupations

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Cedric The Entertainer describes his mother's education, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Cedric The Entertainer describes his mother's education, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Cedric The Entertainer describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Cedric The Entertainer describes his father's education

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Cedric The Entertainer talks about his parents' marriage

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Cedric The Entertainer describes his likeness to his parents

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Cedric The Entertainer talks about his sister

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Cedric The Entertainer describes his neighborhood in Caruthersville, Missouri

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Cedric The Entertainer talks about his mother's social life and career

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Cedric The Entertainer describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Cedric The Entertainer remembers his early personality

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Cedric The Entertainer remembers changing his name, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Cedric The Entertainer recalls the television programs of his youth

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Cedric The Entertainer remembers his home life

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Cedric The Entertainer remembers the crack cocaine epidemic

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Cedric The Entertainer remembers moving to Berkeley, Missouri

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Cedric The Entertainer describes his early experiences of religion

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Cedric The Entertainer recalls lessons from his mother

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Cedric The Entertainer recalls his activities at Berkeley High School in Berkeley, Missouri

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Cedric The Entertainer remembers his decision to attend college

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Cedric The Entertainer talks about the popular culture of his youth

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Cedric The Entertainer remembers changing his name, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Cedric The Entertainer talks about his influential teachers

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Cedric The Entertainer describes his early male role models

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Cedric The Entertainer describes the barbershop culture in Berkeley, Missouri

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Cedric The Entertainer talks about his observational skills

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Cedric The Entertainer remembers meeting Eric Rhone

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Cedric The Entertainer recalls choosing a major at Southeast Missouri State University

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Cedric The Entertainer recalls his start at Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau, Missouri

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Cedric The Entertainer describes his early experiences in entertainment news media

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Cedric The Entertainer recalls his experiences at Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau, Missouri

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Cedric The Entertainer remembers working as an insurance claims adjuster

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Cedric The Entertainer remembers the Johnnie Walker National Comedy Search

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Cedric The Entertainer talks about his comedic writing process

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Cedric The Entertainer describes his experiences of heckling

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Cedric The Entertainer remembers joining the Funny Bone comedy club circuit

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Cedric The Entertainer recalls performing at Steve Harvey's comedy club in Dallas, Texas

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Cedric The Entertainer describes his mother's support for his comedy career

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Cedric The Entertainer talks about the black comedy club scene

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Cedric The Entertainer remembers winning the Miller Lite Comedy Search

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Cedric The Entertainer recalls his appearance on 'Showtime at the Apollo'

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Cedric The Entertainer remembers becoming the host of 'ComicView' on BET

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Cedric The Entertainer talks about the comedic style of Richard Pryor

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Cedric The Entertainer talks about the Cedric The Entertainer Charitable Foundation, Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Cedric The Entertainer remembers hosting 'Def Comedy Jam'

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Cedric The Entertainer recalls joining the cast of 'The Steve Harvey Show'

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Cedric The Entertainer remembers comedian Robin Harris

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Cedric The Entertainer remembers the Kings of Comedy tour

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Cedric The Entertainer talks about his roles on 'The Steve Harvey Show'

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Cedric The Entertainer talks about his character on 'The Soul Man'

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Cedric The Entertainer describes his transition from standup comedy to acting

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$6

DAStory

4$3

DATitle
Cedric The Entertainer remembers working as an insurance claims adjuster
Cedric The Entertainer talks about his roles on 'The Steve Harvey Show'
Transcript
So after Dan Rather takes your job away [at KFVS-TV, Cape Girardeau, Missouri]--$$(Shakes head).$$--so, what was, what was left? What did you decide to do?$$So, I had to go--had, you know I tucked my tail in and I went back to St. Louis [Missouri]. I tried to get into radio, so I you know I tried radio for a while, and I never really got a job. I got like an intern job at--I was trying to remember the call letters. (Pause) It was an intern job, I didn't keep it. And so I eventually got a job selling fax machines, and it was in the new era when fax machines was the hot thing. And I just, you know, I ended up going on that pattern for a while, working at Best Buy [Best Buy Co., Inc.] when they came in selling electronics for the holidays. And then, eventually landed at State Farm where I became a claims adjuster.$$Right. Now, yeah you write about that in your book ['Grown A$$ Man,' Cedric The Entertainer] that you became an expert claims adjuster in terms of dealing with difficult people (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Yeah, with difficult black people, right, yeah. I was bilingual, that's what I told them--I spoke regular English and angry Negro (laughter). Because black people would come in there and they would really be--they would have people really scared about their cars, like, just arguing and cussing at the top of their voice about how they--you know, they got a ding on their door and they need a whole new door. You know, "Somebody knocked my bumper out. I--this car is totaled, I need a new one." You know, and be--having everybody all up in arms and people getting scared. And I was like, I just remember a guy coming in, "I'll blow this building up," and everybody was scared. And I said, "Look, black people can't get dynamite. That man ain't going to blow nothing up. Let me go out there and talk to him." (Laughter) So, you know.$$So you were able to keep it real.$$Yeah, just go out there. Keep it real, get people to calm down. Like, "Look, you're not going to get anything this way. Let me see what I can do for you." And so that was one of the reasons I started to be promoted quite a bit at State Farm, is that I had the skillset to be able to just kind of calm people down. But I was a really bad claims adjuster. Like, I just, I was young. I'd, you know, hang out all night and party and then just show up and do work. So, I would have files on my desk. People would be in a rental car for three months messing with me (laughter).$Now back to the show. Now you're, you play a teacher in the show.$$Yeah, the gym coach [Cedric Jackie Robinson].$$Okay, all right. And did you have a--I mean I know the show had writers. But how much influence did you have over the material that was presented on the show?$$Well, we had great writers on the show. But again, because we were standups, I mean it was a lot of trust to both Steve [Steve Harvey] and myself. If we didn't like a joke or we had something better that we wanted to say, well, they gave us the reins to be able to do that. And so, but we had a bunch of really great writers on the show. So it was all about performance and delivery, but I would definitely add a lot of stuff in that, you know, that made the show. That was just--that ended up becoming my brand, like, through most of the projects I do. It was like, just ad lib. Like, "Do this. And now Ced [HistoryMaker Cedric The Entertainer], do your thing."$$Yeah you had two significant co-stars, too.$$Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean Wendy Raquel Robinson and Terri J. Vaughn, who played Lovita Alize [Lovita Alize Jenkins Robinson] on the show. And she was great; and of course, you know, me and Steve. And the cast was just great all around. People loved Merlin Santana. And, there was Romeo [Romeo Santana] and Bullethead [Stanley "Bullethead" Kuznocki]. People loved all the characters.$$Okay, okay. Do you have a favorite moment from the show?$$Seem like--one of my favorite moments from 'The Steve Harvey Show,' I had a couple of them. One was, you know, I introduced the character Grandma Puddin', where I used to be like--this was before Tyler Perry, you know, who did the Madea. But the mean grandmother kind of lady and, she was funny; she hated Steve. That was a fun character to play. But one of my, probably one of my favorite memories on there was--it was a couple. It was the group, the High Tops [Steve Hightower and the High Tops], when we sang 'When the Funk Hits the Fan.' We would have the little outfits on, and Ron Isley [Ronald Isley] was a part of it, and that was fun. So we were this old group, and we would get up and perform. And those would be fun shows where we'd be up dancing and performing. And then one that I remember was doing a dance where I was trying to choreograph the girls. They had, some young girls were there, and I was showing them moves, and I did the difference between Janet Jackson and Britney [Britney Spears]. I was like, told them, "This is Janet," (gesture). And it was the same move, but one was left and one was right. I just remember that I improv-ed it, and it just blew up--like the crowd--and I did it without any of the producers knowing I was going to do it. And that's, and it just killed. And that's one of my favorite moments on the show that I can remember. It was like, I just did it. I just did it, like, I was like, I'm just going to do it right now. And it just worked, and so--and everybody went crazy.

Tim Reid

Actor, writer, producer and director Timothy L. Reid was born on December 19, 1944 in Norfolk, Virginia. As a teenager growing up in Norfolk, Reid dealt with the horrors of segregation during the height of the Civil Rights Movement in Virginia’s Tidewater area. In 1968, at the age of twenty-three, Reid received his B.A. degree in business administration from Norfolk State University.

After college, Reid moved to Chicago, taking a position as one of the first black marketing representatives with DuPont Corporation. That year, as part of the Junior Chamber of Commerce of Harvey, Illinois, Reid met Tom Dreesen, a white native of Chicago’s South Side. Devastated by the high rates of drug abuse and violence among Harvey’s teenagers, Dreesen and Reid developed an anti-drug program for students. After a presentation in 1969, an eighth-grade student told the duo she thought they were funny, and should become comedians. Receptive to the idea, the duo began to write comedic material, and formed Tim and Tom, arguably the first interracial comedic duo. Reid and Dreesen toured from 1971 to 1975, before disbanding to pursue other interests.

In 1976, Reid moved to Los Angeles, and picked up regular work on various television shows. He was subsequently cast on the Richard Pryor Show. Due to controversy and creative differences between NBC and the show’s namesake, the show was cancelled after only four episodes. A year later, however, Reid landed a spot on a hit show, playing DJ Gordon "Venus Flytrap" Sims on WKRP in Cincinnati. After the show was canceled in 1982, Reid joined the cast of another successful series, the detective drama Simon & Simon. In 1987, Reid earned critical acclaim as the co-creator, producer, writer and lead actor of Frank’s Place, a dramedy that involves the exploits of a college professor who inherits a New Orleans restaurant. Lasting twenty-two episodes, the show earned Reid several award nominations, winning an NAACP Image Award. Reid returned to television in 1993 with Sister, Sister, which starred twins Tia and Tamera Mowrey and actress Jackee Harry. Reid remained with the show for its entire six-year run. In 1995, Reid made his film directorial debut with the critically acclaimed feature film, Once Upon A Time...When We Were Colored.

In 1997, Reid co-founded New Millennium Studios with his wife, actress Daphne Maxwell Reid. In 2009, Reid established the Legacy Media Institute to train emerging filmmakers around the world. Reid has also remained active in the community, donating his time for various charitable activities.

Timothy L. Reid was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 9, 2012 & January 18, 2013.

Accession Number

A2012.067

Sex

Male

Interview Date

2/9/2012 |and| 1/18/2013

Last Name

Reid

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Schools

Norfolk State University

Ruffner Middle School

Laurie E. Titus Elementary School

Crestwood High School

St. Mary's Catholic School

First Name

Tim

Birth City, State, Country

Norfolk

HM ID

REI03

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Virginia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Florence, Italy

Favorite Quote

Be Careful What You Ask For, You Just May Get It

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Virginia

Birth Date

12/19/1944

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Petersburg

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Italian Food

Short Description

Film actor Tim Reid (1944 - ) is the co-founder New Millennium Studios with his wife Daphne Maxwell Reid, and founder of Legacy Media Institute.

Employment

E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company (DuPont)

NBC - 'The Richard Pryor Show' (Television show)

'WKRP in Cincinnati'

New Millenium Studios

Legacy Media Institute

Favorite Color

Royal Blue, Yellow

Timing Pairs
0,0:2531,49:6238,76:6850,86:7122,91:11950,268:12426,276:14806,320:18212,334:18484,339:20456,381:20932,390:21272,396:22632,419:27188,521:28616,562:28888,567:31064,608:31880,623:32220,629:35620,711:41087,763:41525,770:41817,775:42182,781:44737,851:52621,1020:53132,1031:53424,1036:58826,1144:72458,1342:74876,1384:75890,1424:77060,1448:78152,1472:79400,1500:79712,1505:80024,1510:80960,1533:86310,1567:87465,1589:88851,1626:89159,1631:92547,1704:93779,1715:96559,1725:97216,1736:98311,1774:100136,1826:103494,1900:105246,1927:106268,1944:107655,1974:108239,1993:118065,2134:118440,2140:119190,2151:119490,2156:120165,2166:121740,2195:122265,2203:123690,2239:123990,2244:124365,2250:128180,2270:128444,2275:129302,2305:133130,2400:133526,2408:133790,2413:134120,2420:134714,2430:135110,2438:135638,2449:136694,2467:137156,2475:139400,2519:144620,2530:151980,2658:169438,2983:173480,3014$0,0:825,26:1125,31:2100,48:6675,220:8475,259:12040,360:35836,703:36132,708:37316,756:40942,852:52990,1044:54100,1064:54544,1071:62366,1208:62782,1213:65910,1220:66234,1225:66558,1230:68340,1268:72714,1342:76359,1431:80750,1454:86210,1537:86842,1546:87237,1552:87632,1558:95216,1739:95532,1744:97902,1793:98297,1799:101533,1864:103640,1891:117825,2087:119902,2118:129059,2300:129533,2307:129928,2313:136964,2456:138043,2511:145066,2570:162209,2794:167882,2896:169928,2953:174040,2985:178085,3026:179890,3087
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Tim Reid's interview, session 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Tim Reid lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Tim Reid talks about his mother's side of the family

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Tim Reid describes his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Tim Reid talks about his father's side of the family

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Tim Reid describes reconnecting with his paternal great uncle

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Tim Reid describes his childhood trips to Whaleyville, Virginia

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Tim Reid remembers developing an interest in storytelling

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Tim Reid talks about his paternal grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Tim Reid describes the secrecy surrounding his biological father's identity

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Tim Reid describes being adopted by his biological father

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Tim Reid describes his likeness to his parents and paternal grandmother

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Tim Reid remembers repairing his relationship with his mother before she passed away

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Tim Reid describes being raised by his mother in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Tim Reid remembers being punished at St. Mary's Catholic school

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Tim Reid recalls his mother's response to his being punished at St. Mary's Catholic school

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Tim Reid describes moving between Baltimore, Maryland and Norfolk, Virginia as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Tim Reid remembers being selected to go on stage during a performance by George "Gabby" Hayes

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Tim Reid describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Tim Reid describes advantages of attending Crestwood High School in Chesapeake, Virginia

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Tim Reid describes the schools he attended and his demeanor as a student

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Tim Reid describes being raised by his biological father and his stepmother in Norfolk, Virginia

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Tim Reid describes his family's attitude toward education and his educational experience at Crestwood High School

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Tim Reid recalls influential teachers from Crestwood High School

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Tim Reid describes his educational and work experiences during segregation

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Tim Reid reflects upon surviving segregation and how it impacted his outlook

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Tim Reid talks about Virginia's African American history

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Tim Reid remembers visiting his mother when she worked as a live-in domestic for a white family in New York

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Tim Reid recalls an experience at a segregated restaurant in Virginia

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Tim Reid recalls his perspective on school integration as a student in Norfolk, Virginia

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Tim Reid reflects upon his time at Crestwood High School

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Tim Reid remembers his interest in the arts at Crestwood High School

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Tim Reid describes his father's social and political influence in Chesapeake, Virginia

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Tim Reid remembers his father's nightclub business in the early 1960s

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Tim Reid explains how he entered Norfolk State College in Norfolk, Virginia

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Tim Reid remembers participating in the March on Washington and joining Norfolk State College's NAACP Chapter

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Tim Reid describes his participation in Norfolk State College's NAACP Chapter in 1965

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Tim Reid describes his political mentors at Norfolk Sate College

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Tim Reid remembers being Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s bodyguard at New Cavalry Baptist Church

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Tim Reid remembers his initial experience with acting at Norfolk State College

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Tim Reid remembers his interview with DuPont in Wilmington, Delaware

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Tim Reid remembers moving to Chicago, Illinois during the 1968 riot after Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Tim Reid describes moving to his first home in suburban Markham, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Tim Reid remembers his paternal grandmother's visit to Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Tim Reid recalls meeting Tom Dreesen

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Tim Reid describes his impression of Tom Dreesen and the beginning of their comedy act in the late 1960s

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Tim Reid describes his financial success while working for E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Tim Reid describes being the first black employee in management at E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Tim Reid describes leaving his position at DuPont to enter show business

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Tim Reid describes how he profited from gold stock in the 1970s

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Tim Reid describes his friendship with HistoryMaker Della Reese and the breakup of his act, Tim and Tom

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Tim Reid remembers witnessing Tom Dreesen's success as a solo comic

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Tim Reid reflects upon what he learned from his friendship with HistoryMaker Della Reese

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Tim Reid explains why he left his marriage with Rita Sykes Reid

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Tim Reid describes moving from California to Washington, D.C. to pursue his solo comic career in the mid-1970s

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Tim Reid describes his time as a comic in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Tim Reid describes his television roles on 'Easy Does It...Starring Frankie Avalon' and 'WKRP in Cincinnati'

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Tim Reid remembers his return to performing stand-up comedy in Washington, D.C. while on 'WKRP in Cincinnati'

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Tim Reid remembers being chosen to perform on 'The Richard Pryor Show'

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Tim Reid remembers improvised skits from 'The Richard Pryor Show'

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Tim Reid describes parallels between his and Richard Pryor's upbringings

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Tim Reid talks about his experience with a racist television director

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Tim Reid recalls his audition for the role of Venus Flytrap on 'WKRP in Cincinnati'

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Tim Reid describes the creation of the episode "Who Is Gordon Sims?" on 'WKRP in Cincinnati'

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Tim Reid describes the 'WKRP in Cincinnati' episode, "Who Is Gordon Sims?"

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Tim Reid describes his career following the cancellation of 'WKRP in Cincinnati'

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Tim Reid describes his travels to Spain as a television producer for Penthouse magazine

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Tim Reid remembers proposing to HistoryMaker Daphne Maxwell Reid and being cast in 'Teachers Only'

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Tim Reid talks about the importance of respect in relationships

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Tim Reid talks about 'Once Upon a Time...When We Were Colored' being excluded from Ebony's top one hundred movies list

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Tim Reid talks about black Hollywood

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Tim Reid reflects upon his transition from standup comedy to acting

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Slating of Tim Reid's interview, session 2

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Tim Reid describes the impact of the 'WKRP in Cincinnati' episode, "Who Is Gordon Sims?"

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Tim Reid describes the cancellation of 'WKRP in Cincinnati'

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Tim Reid describes becoming a television producer for Penthouse magazine

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Tim Reid describes his experience as television producer for Penthouse magazine

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Tim Reid recalls being hired for the television show, 'Teachers Only'

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Tim Reid describes playing Lt. Marcel "Downtown" Brown on 'Simon & Simon'

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Tim Reid describes his departure from 'Simon & Simon'

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Tim Reid describes the series, 'Frank's Place,' pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 10 - Tim Reid describes multigenerational storytelling in 'Frank's Place'

Tape: 8 Story: 11 - Tim Reid describes the series, 'Frank's Place,' pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 12 - Tim Reid describes his meeting with William S. Paley

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Tim Reid describes responses to the series, 'Frank's Place,' pt. 1

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Tim Reid describes the 'Frank's Place' episode, "The King of Wall Street"

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Tim Reid recalls the cancellation of 'Frank's Place'

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Tim Reid describes the setting of 'Frank's Place' in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Tim Reid describes responses to the series, 'Frank's Place,' pt. 2

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Tim Reid remembers showing episodes of 'Frank's Place' in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Tim Reid describes the impetus for the show 'Snoops'

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Tim Reid describes shooting the show 'Snoops'

Tape: 9 Story: 9 - Tim Reid remembers watching old films with his grandmother

Tape: 9 Story: 10 - Tim Reid describes his hiatus from show business after 'Snoops'

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Tim Reid describes the film, 'The Fourth War'

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Tim Reid describes being cast in 'Perry Mason' and 'Stephen King's It'

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Tim Reid remembers the expansion of Starbucks in the late 1980s

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Tim Reid describes Tim Curry's appearance in 'Stephen King's It'

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Tim Reid remembers being cast as Dr. Lorenzo Lozano in the series, 'Zorro'

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Tim Reid recalls appearing in a beer commercial directed by Richard Lester, pt. 1

Tape: 10 Story: 7 - Tim Reid recalls appearing in a beer commercial directed by Richard Lester, pt. 2

Tape: 10 Story: 8 - Tim Reid describes his television and film roles in the early 1990s

Tape: 10 Story: 9 - Tim Reid remembers his experience on the TV series 'Sister, Sister'

Tape: 10 Story: 10 - Tim Reid describes the impact of The TV series 'Sister, Sister'

Tape: 10 Story: 11 - Tim Reid describes his relationship with Tia and Tamera Mowry

Tape: 10 Story: 12 - Tim Reid reflects upon fatherhood

Tape: 11 Story: 1 - Tim Reid describes the impact of 'Sister, Sister' for his audience following

Tape: 11 Story: 2 - Tim Reid describes the TV movie, 'Race for Freedom: The Underground Railroad,' pt. 1

Tape: 11 Story: 3 - Tim Reid describes the TV movie, 'Race to Freedom: The Underground Railroad,' pt. 2

Tape: 11 Story: 4 - Tim Reid describes the success of his film, 'The Runaways'

Tape: 11 Story: 5 - Tim Reid reflects upon his education in history

Tape: 11 Story: 6 - Tim Reid describes his career in the 1990s

Tape: 11 Story: 7 - Tim Reid recalls securing rights for the film, 'Once Upon a Time...When We Were Colored'

Tape: 11 Story: 8 - Tim Reid describes casting the film, 'Once Upon a Time...When We Were Colored'

Tape: 11 Story: 9 - Tim Reid describes the impact of the film, 'Once Upon a Time...When We Were Colored'

Tape: 11 Story: 10 - Tim Reid recalls an emergency situation while filming 'Once Upon a Time...When We Were Colored'

Tape: 11 Story: 11 - Tim Reid describes shooting the film, 'Once Upon a Time...When We Are Colored'

Tape: 11 Story: 12 - Tim Reid reflects upon representations of African American culture

Tape: 12 Story: 1 - Tim Reid describes the Showtime series, 'Linc's'

Tape: 12 Story: 2 - Tim Reid describes filming the Showtime series, 'Linc's'

Tape: 12 Story: 3 - Tim Reid describes his roles in 'Just Deserts' and 'Alley Cats Strike'

Tape: 12 Story: 4 - Tim Reid describes New Millennium Studios' productions

Tape: 12 Story: 5 - Tim Reid describes the impact of New Millennium Studios

Tape: 12 Story: 6 - Tim Reid describes the foundation of Legacy Media Institute

Tape: 12 Story: 7 - Tim Reid describes his plans for New Millennium Studios

Tape: 12 Story: 8 - Tim Reid describes his plans for filmmaking

Tape: 12 Story: 9 - Tim Reid describes the importance of the Thirteenth Amendment

Tape: 12 Story: 10 - Tim Reid describes Elizabeth Keckley's dressmaking

Tape: 12 Story: 11 - Tim Reid describes documentary projects he would like to produce

Tape: 13 Story: 1 - Tim Reid describes Maggie L. Walker's history

Tape: 13 Story: 2 - Tim Reid describes his documentary subjects, pt. 1

Tape: 13 Story: 3 - Tim Reid describes his documentary subjects, pt. 2

Tape: 13 Story: 4 - Tim Reid describes the creation of the film, 'For Real'

Tape: 13 Story: 5 - Tim Reid describes the relationship between Blockbuster and New Millennium Studios

Tape: 13 Story: 6 - Tim Reid describes film marketing and distribution systems

Tape: 13 Story: 7 - Tim Reid reflects upon his life, pt. 1

Tape: 13 Story: 8 - Tim Reid reflects upon his community values

Tape: 13 Story: 9 - Tim Reid reflects upon his life, pt. 2

Tape: 13 Story: 10 - Tim Reid describes his concerns for the African American community

Tape: 14 Story: 1 - Tim Reid reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 14 Story: 2 - Tim Reid describes his children, pt. 1

Tape: 14 Story: 3 - Tim Reid describes his children, pt. 2

Tape: 14 Story: 4 - Tim Reid describes his relationship with HistoryMaker Daphne Maxwell Reid

Tape: 14 Story: 5 - Tim Reid describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

2$2

DATape

8$10

DAStory

10$9

DATitle
Tim Reid describes multigenerational storytelling in 'Frank's Place'
Tim Reid remembers his experience on the TV series 'Sister, Sister'
Transcript
What were some of the aspects of 'Frank's Place' that you tweaked that were different from what the usual sitcom would, would have? I mean (unclear) (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) God, I mean there're--it's like--we could almost do--matter of fact, there have been college courses on, on that particular subject, how different was that show compared to what was being shown, in terms of black characterizations, and also, black-white relationships in the South and the North. Well, one of the--first glaring one that most people didn't accept it, didn't pay much attention to, was the multi-generational aspects of the black community. I mean we had a character on there, who at the time we hired her, was like seventy-something years old. I mean she could barely move about without the aid of cane, and, and she is one of the most dramatic and most interesting women I've ever met in my life, Miss Marie, Frances Williams. She studied with [Konstantin] Stanislavski. She had, she had been befriended and been a partner of Paul Robeson. She had, she and he had hid out from--in Mexico for years when he was being--$$Wow.$$--(laughter) chased by the FBI [Federal Bureau of Investigation]. She had, she had given [HistoryMaker] Maya Angelou her start. She started--this woman was a, unbelievable woman, and here she is playing this, this waitress emeritus who only waited on people who had been coming there thirty years or more. And you have her. You have Mr. Charlie Lampkin, one of the best jazz musicians who had been forgotten in the era of jazz, and different man, I mean unusual character, who would sit and tell stories off, off the set about the great days of, of Hollywood--not only Hollywood, music and working in Paris [France]. And then we had, you know, Big Arthur, had just been in, you know, a hit from 'Rocky.' I mean we had these interest--then we had this, one of the first times you ever saw a Jewish, Southern lawyer in a series, you know, played by [Robert] Harper, Bubba Weisberger [Bubba "Si" Weisberger], I mean (laughter), I mean it was really a multi-generational, young, old, middle aged, all these characters from different lifestyles. I'm an educated college professor, but I didn't know diddly from these people. They were, they were earth, street, you know, people who lived by their, their wits and their, and their ability to survive. And so we were able to deal with a different kind of story in a different way. I haven't seen the multi-generational storytelling in television since. I'm seeing a little more in, in some of the white stories--white sitcoms, in 'Modern Family,' a few of 'em where you're beginning, you get a little more multi-generational. But we see it in Europe all the time. I spent a lot of time in Europe and Italy. You see multi-generational stories. You see it in Brazil, but in America, we, we shy away from multi-generalization in terms of storytelling or multi-generations coming together and, and existing as it is in real life.$Ninety-four [1994] is the year that you started working on 'Sister, Sister,' right?$$Yeah.$$With the Mowry twins [Tia Mowry-Hardrict and Tamera Mowry-Housley] and--$$With the Mowry twins. When I first saw 'em, they had just turned thirteen. And now they're mothers. It's--they were two of the most honestly, naturally, loving young ladies I've met. I mean they really are wonderful people, very talented. The voices--can sing and dance and they're really, really nice young ladies. I gave 'em a hard time, by the way (laughter). I really gave 'em a hard time.$$Do you have any stories about it (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) I said, you know, "You guys are too clean. You go to church three or four times a week. You need to see a little, just a little devilishness around you," (laughter). I think the first time they ever heard the, the F word was out of my lips, the first time (laughter). I mean they just--I would shock them, not purposely. I just, I am who I am, and I--and Jackee [HistoryMaker Jackee Harry] and I would get into sometimes very heated debates. And I (laughter), they would--sometimes I'd say, "Put your hand over your ears. Jackee and I are going at it," you know. But it's funny, I've seen them a few times since they've become adults, and they often, they sit down and laugh. And they hear what they thought of me, and what was going on, and Jackee at that time was really nice. But in a strange way, we had an impact on each other. I mean I, I have--I was getting a little, what's the word? Negative about young people at that time. I was like, you know, you get older and you get like, ah, these young kids coming in the business. Yeah, these--they don't, they--entitled and all that. And they kind of made me realize a little something about young people, you know. Not all, you know, it's not all, but not only that, you know, it's their time. I mean don't, don't get bitter because time is moving. Change. And they really--they sort of reintroduced me to, to the nobility of, of youth. And I think I introduced them to a side of life that (laughter) they must have needed (laughter). But we had a wonderful six years. It was sometimes difficult for me. I was torn between building a studio back here [Petersburg, Virginia] at the time. I wasn't crazy about a couple of the producers we had. We used to get into conflict, but the show--I never watched the show, by the way. I, I don't think I watched or have watched--six years, I don't think I've watched maybe five or six episodes in the whole time. And recently, I, I catch myself, you know, something will go by. I stop and look at it. But I saw one of the episodes not too long ago, and I have to say, I was, I was delightfully surprised on how it held up. And it made me laugh, and it made me think I wish I had been more there. I don't mean as a performer, but I mean as realizing where I was, and who I was working with. They were very talented people, good writers. Now don't let--don't ever tell them I said that, but they were, they were very good writers.

Harry J. Lennix

Actor Harry J. Lennix was born the last of three children in Chicago, Illinois, on November 16, 1964, to Harry and Lillian Lennix. He grew up in Chicago’s South Shore neighborhood, the youngest of three siblings, and was raised by a single mother. His father died when Lennix was only two years old. Lennix attended Quigley Preparatory Seminary where he studied to become a Dominican priest. He did well in school, and upon graduation attended Northwestern University.

At Northwestern University, Lennix became interested in theater. He majored in acting and directing and was a member of For Members Only, an African American student organization at Northwestern. He was also awarded the School of Communications’ Sandra Singer Scholarship for talented theater students. After graduation, Lennix spent eight years teaching in Chicago Public Schools, although he began to perform in prominent Chicago theaters, including the Goodman and Steppenwolf Theatres.

Lennix's acting career began to take off in the late 1980s. His first film role was in 1989’s The Package, filmed on location in Chicago. Lennix continued working in theater, and the following year, he won an Obie award for his portrayal of Malcolm X in The Meeting. After relocating to New York City, Lennix performed in the play Titus Andronicus. He would reprise this role when the play became a film (Titus) in 1999. Lennix received both a Tree of Life Award from the NAACP and a Golden Satellite Award from the International Press Academy for his performance in that film. Lennix’s film and television credits are numerous. He has had significant roles in movies such as Ray, Love and Basketball, Get on the Bus, Barbershop 2: Back in Business and The Matrix: Revolutions, among others. His television credits included a major role on NBC’s acclaimed series Commander in Chief as well as parts in E.R., Diagnosis Murder and House, M.D..

Lennix is known for playing stern and stoic characters. He joined forces with Goodman Theatre director Chuck Smith to form Legacy Productions. The company has performed plays throughout the country. Although he resides in Los Angeles, Lennix is on the board of advisors at Chicago’s Goodman Theater, and continues to work as a stage actor, including a role in 2005 in the play Permanent Collection.

Accession Number

A2006.057

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/1/2006 |and| 5/3/2018

Last Name

Lennix

Middle Name

J.

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Myra Bradwell Communications Arts & Sciences Elementary School

St. Bride Elementary School

Quigley Preparatory Seminary South

Northwestern University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Harry

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

LEN01

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Cancun, Mexico, Australia

Favorite Quote

It Is Worth More To Have A Little Bit Of Something You Love, Than A Lot Of Something You Don't Care About.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

11/16/1964

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Italian, Japanese Food

Short Description

Stage actor and film actor Harry J. Lennix (1964 - ) received both a Tree of Life Award from the NAACP and a Golden Satellite Award from the International Press Academy for his performance as Aaron in the film, 'Titus'. He founded Legacy Productions with Goodman Theatre director Chuck Smith, and serves on the advisory board of the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, Illinois.

Employment

Actor

Favorite Color

Burgundy, Gold

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Harry J. Lennix's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Harry J. Lennix lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Harry J. Lennix describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Harry J. Lennix describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Harry J. Lennix describes his family's background working on plantations

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Harry J. Lennix describes his Native American heritage

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Harry J. Lennix describes the slave rebellions in America and Haiti

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Harry J. Lennix describes his mother's childhood, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Harry J. Lennix describes his mother's childhood, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Harry J. Lennix describes his mother's family and her move to Chicago

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Harry J. Lennix describes how his parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Harry J. Lennix describes his father and uncle

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Harry J. Lennix describes his siblings, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Harry J. Lennix describes his siblings, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Harry J. Lennix describes his premature birth and childhood illness

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Harry J. Lennix describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Harry J. Lennix describes his earliest memories of Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Harry J. Lennix remembers his elementary school teachers and friends, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Harry J. Lennix remembers his elementary school teachers and friends, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Harry J. Lennix describes his childhood aspirations

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Harry J. Lennix recalls his acting roles in elementary school

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Harry J. Lennix recalls the actors and actresses who influenced him

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Harry J. Lennix describes his affinity for languages

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Harry J. Lennix describes his decision to attend Northwestern University

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Harry J. Lennix recalls his decision to pursue acting

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Harry J. Lennix remembers his freshman year at Northwestern University

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Harry J. Lennix reflects upon his first year at Northwestern University, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Harry J. Lennix describes his siblings' college experiences

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Harry J. Lennix reflects upon his first year at Northwestern University, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Harry J. Lennix describes his mother's life while he was in college

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Harry J. Lennix remembers his sophomore year at Northwestern University

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Harry J. Lennix remembers performing in 'A Raisin in the Sun'

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Harry J. Lennix recalls Northwestern University's SummerStage festival

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Harry J. Lennix describes his junior year at Northwestern University

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Harry J. Lennix reflects upon his confidence as a young actor

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Harry J. Lennix remembers his courses at Northwestern University

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Harry J. Lennix describes the politics of Chicago and Northwestern University

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Harry J. Lennix remembers his family's opinion of his acting career

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Harry J. Lennix describes his senior year at Northwestern University

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Slating of Harry J. Lennix' interview, session 2

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Harry J. Lennix remembers the Summer Academic Workshop at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Harry J. Lennix talks about prominent professors at Northwestern University

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Harry J. Lennix recalls the 1970s arts scene in the South Shore neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Harry J. Lennix recalls the black theatres in Chicago in the 1970s

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Harry J. Lennix remembers seeing his first professional play, 'Fiorello!'

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Harry J. Lennix recalls his first professional theatrical roles

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Harry J. Lennix talks about black theater and colorblind casting

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Harry J. Lennix remembers his first film roles in 'The Package' and 'A Mother's Courage: The Mary Thomas Story'

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Harry J. Lennix talks about being cast in 'The Five Heartbeats'

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Harry J. Lennix recalls making 'The Five Heartbeats'

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Harry J. Lennix talks about dance and vocal techniques for actors

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Harry J. Lennix reflects upon the differences between stage and film acting

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Harry J. Lennix remembers the voices of prominent black actors and singers

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Harry J. Lennix describes how new media platforms have reduced actors' compensation

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Harry J. Lennix remembers substitute teaching in Chicago Public Schools

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Harry J. Lennix recalls his interest in the Nation of Islam

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Harry J. Lennix remembers the demographics of Chicago's South Shore neighborhood during his childhood

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Harry J. Lennix reflects upon the Nation of Islam's contributions

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Harry J. Lennix talks about his relationship to the Nation of Islam

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Harry J. Lennix talks about his connections to the North Side and South Side of Chicago

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Harry J. Lennix remembers his move to New York City

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Harry J. Lennix describes his role as Aaron the Moor in 'Titus Andronicus'

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Harry J. Lennix talks about playing Othello

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Harry J. Lennix describes the cultural impact of 'Othello'

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Harry J. Lennix reflects upon the impact of race on his career

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Harry J. Lennix recalls touring Jeff Stetson's play 'The Meeting'

Tape: 8 Story: 10 - Harry J. Lennix remembers the play 'When Chickens Come Home To Roost'

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Harry J. Lennix recalls working with Spike Lee in the mid-1990s

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Harry J. Lennix describes his approach to playing Malcolm X

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Harry J. Lennix talks about the assassination of Malcom X

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Harry J. Lennix remembers the movie 'Get on the Bus'

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Harry J. Lennix recalls the television shows 'ER' and 'Diagnosis Murder'

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Harry J. Lennix remembers his television roles in the late 1990s

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Harry J. Lennix recalls his roles at the Goodman Theater in late 1990s Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Harry J. Lennix talks about the 2000 film 'Love and Basketball'

Tape: 9 Story: 9 - Harry J. Lennix recalls performing in 'Cymbeline' in Stratford-Upon-Avon, England

Tape: 9 Story: 10 - Harry J. Lennix remembers learning about Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. for 'Keep the Faith, Baby'

Tape: 9 Story: 11 - Harry J. Lennix reflects upon Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.'s legacy

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Harry J. Lennix reflects upon the range of characters he has played

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Harry J. Lennix talks about filming 'The Matrix Reloaded' and 'The Matrix Revolutions' in 2003

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Harry J. Lennix reflects upon his interest in directing and producing

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Harry J. Lennix remembers filming 'The Human Stain' in 2003

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Harry J. Lennix describes his role in the 2005 film 'Chrystal'

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Harry J. Lennix talks about Taylor Hackford's directing style

Tape: 10 Story: 7 - Harry J. Lennix recalls filming 'Barbershop 2: Back in Business' and 'Suspect Zero'

Tape: 10 Story: 8 - Harry J. Lennix talks about his process as an actor

Tape: 10 Story: 9 - Harry J. Lennix describes his perspective on improvisation

Tape: 10 Story: 10 - Harry J. Lennix describes the premise of Thomas Gibbons' play 'Permanent Collection'

Tape: 11 Story: 1 - Harry J. Lennix talks about the NAACP Image Awards' selection process

Tape: 11 Story: 2 - Harry J. Lennix describes his 2007 production of 'Macbeth' in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 11 Story: 3 - Harry J. Lennix talks about his character in August Wilson's 'Radio Golf'

Tape: 11 Story: 4 - Harry J. Lennix remembers playwright August Wilson

Tape: 11 Story: 5 - Harry J. Lennix recalls his relationship with August Wilson

Tape: 11 Story: 6 - Harry J. Lennix reflects upon his early community in the South Shore neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 11 Story: 7 - Harry J. Lennix recalls the Broadway run of 'Radio Golf'

Tape: 11 Story: 8 - Harry J. Lennix describes his roles in '24' and 'Resurrecting the Champ'

Tape: 11 Story: 9 - Harry J. Lennix talks about his support for Hillary Rodham Clinton

Tape: 12 Story: 1 - Harry J. Lennix talks about the portrayal of fictional black presidents

Tape: 12 Story: 2 - Harry J. Lennix remembers directing his first film, 'Fly Like Mercury'

Tape: 12 Story: 3 - Harry J. Lennix recalls working with Joss Whedon on the television show 'Dollhouse'

Tape: 12 Story: 4 - Harry J. Lennix talks about watching his own films

Tape: 12 Story: 5 - Harry J. Lennix remembers being cast on 'The Blacklist'

Tape: 12 Story: 6 - Harry J. Lennix describes the impact of online streaming on the film industry

Tape: 12 Story: 7 - Harry J. Lennix talks about his projects as a producer

Tape: 12 Story: 8 - Harry J. Lennix reflects upon his life

Tape: 12 Story: 9 - Harry J. Lennix describes his plans for 'Revival!' and black faith-based media

Tape: 12 Story: 10 - Harry J. Lennix talks about the film 'Black Panther'

Tape: 12 Story: 11 - Harry J. Lennix reflects upon his favorite role, Jay Gatsby in 'The Great Gatsby'

Tape: 12 Story: 12 - Harry J. Lennix describes his advice to young black actors

Tape: 12 Story: 13 - Harry J. Lennix describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

7$7

DATitle
Harry J. Lennix recalls the actors and actresses who influenced him
Harry J. Lennix reflects upon his first year at Northwestern University, pt. 2
Transcript
Sophomore year [at Quigley Preparatory Seminary South, Chicago, Illinois], some friends of mine were auditioning for the play, and I saw a bunch of girls that were auditioning for the play, too. These girls were from surrounding sister schools, like Elizabeth Seton [Elizabeth Seton High School, South Holland, Illinois], Mother McAuley [Mother McAuley Liberal Arts High School, Chicago, Illinois] and you know, Our Lady of Peace [Our Lady of Peace Catholic School, Chicago, Illinois], and things. And I auditioned, and I got a small part in it. It was 'Guys and Dolls,' and the priest, his name was Father Robert Bridge [Robert Emmett Bridge]. He was a librarian, but was a lover of the theater. He put me in it and I sang a song and met some wonderful people, and just fell in love with this life, with this thing. I saw, on some snowy day when everybody couldn't get there, I saw 'Guys and Dolls,' the movie, and I remember at that same time I had read a book by Mario Puzo, called 'The Godfather.' And I had seen that at the Cheltenham Theatre [Chicago, Illinois], you know, where we would go watch movies with that big box of popcorn. And I couldn't believe, I couldn't wrap my head around the fact that that was the same guy from 'The Godfather' that was in this 'Guys and Dolls' thing. Not Sinatra [Frank Sinatra], but Marlon Brando. And I became fascinated with Brando, and I just started watching everything I could. I would get the movie--the TV Guide every week. This was before, you know, VCRs and all that stuff. And I would find Brando movies, and then I would read about him, from books in the library. I would even find out about the people he liked, you know, and watch those movies. I would watch Olivier [Laurence Olivier] and Alec Guinness, and then from Guinness I would watch people like Charlie Laughton [Charles Laughton], and from Laughton, I would watch people like Robert Donat, and Peter O'Toole, and Richard Burton. You know, like there were all these tangential lines, these connecting threads of amazing performers. And then, you know, we were reading in high school, 'A Raisin in the Sun' [Lorraine Hansberry], and I saw this guy, this Sidney Poitier guy, and I thought that he was amazing, just amazing. And Paul Newman, and Ivan Dixon, and you know there were these amazing actors, wonderful actors, and wonderful actresses, like Bette Davis and Piper Laurie, and Eva Marie Saint, and Kim Hunter and Vivien Leigh, the Hepburns [Katharine Hepburn and Audrey Hepburn], you know, just like amazing actors.$$Right, right.$$And Cicely Tyson, I remember seeing the 'Autobiography of Jane Pittman' ['The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman'], and I remember her in this tour de force performance. But there was also a guy who played a small role in it, and they were trying to get people to move off the plantation and settle in other places. And some people were trying to get them to stay, and this young black man, this actor, said, "There's lots of places we can go, there's gold in California." And I remember him saying that and thinking, "He's a wonderful actor."$$Right.$$And that's the only line that he had. He was a wonderful actor, and authentic, and just real. And this thing, this 'Roots' thing came on man. And I was shocked at that story. I had never heard that story in the Catholic schools. I didn't know that.$$So they were making a tremendous impact.$$Yeah, actors were opening up the world for me, through theater and movies and books. We were opening up--my mother [Lillian Vines Lennix], like I said, always read books. And she read things like you know Reader's Digest. I remember I would thumb through Reader's Digest or National Geographic or the encyclopedias that she would buy. When I was a kid like in the fifth, sixth, seventh grade, I would read the encyclopedia. I was fascinated, it was like, Nicolaus Copernicus and people like that, and Isaac Newton, the fundamentals laws of physics and, you know, it was watching things like 'Nova' with Carl Sagan. It was just a wonderful, open, insane, limitless world out there.$$Right.$$And actors were like, they were like cowboys. You know, they were like, they could rope the thing together and they could put a lasso around it and could yield and yank it back. They were able to do--the actors in the theaters and movies can, can for a little while reign in the radical wild universe that we live in. And they can tell a story.$We are still in our freshman year there at Northwestern [Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois] and what was that freshman year like?$$Freshman year was, it too was, was you know, I call my childhood Gothic. This was pure Russian Romanticism. This was (laughter) this was Rachmaninoff [Sergei Rachmaninoff], my freshman year. It was Tchaikovsky [Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky], it was insane, it was a whirlwind of information, of academic excellence, of challenge, of sometimes physical duress. Because of the requirements of being a theater major, you had to do a certain amount of crew. Those hours could be grueling. And, you had to get your coursework done and you had to do the work study, and you had social life, such as it was. And I was a shy boy, and wanted desperately to have a girlfriend, and I managed from time to time to get a smooch in from here and there. So, you know, you just, as I look back at that boy, I have tremendous affection for him and for his innocence, and how humble and a little over his head he was. But that the kid had some moxie (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) He had guts.$$He had some guts. And, and I like him, I like that kid.

Bernie Casey

Bernie Casey was born Bernard Terry Casey on June 8, 1939, in the small coal mining community of Wyco, West Virginia, to Frank Leslie Casey and Flossie Coleman Casey. While Casey was still a youth, he and his family moved to Columbus where he attended Garfield Elementary School, Champion Junior High, and Columbus East High School. Casey had already shown an aptitude for painting and drawing, and soon developed his athletic abilities as well, particularly for basketball and football.

Casey attended Bowling Green State University (BGSU) in Ohio in 1957, thanks in part to an athletic scholarship, where he remained intent on becoming an artist. Casey excelled in football while attending BGSU, and was considered a key player in the school’s 1959 championship season. Casey was named a member of the Little All American Team, and was also competitive in track and field. Casey received his B.S. degree in Art Education from BGSU in 1961, and later received his Master of Fine Arts degree from the same school.

In 1961, after receiving his B.S. degree, Casey was drafted into the NFL in the first round by the San Francisco 49ers, with whom he would spend six seasons, followed by two years with the Los Angeles Rams. In the off-season, Casey returned to Bowling Green State University, in order to complete his M.F.A. degree, which he received in 1966. After his standout 1967 athletic season in which Casey caught 53 passes for a career-high 871 yards and eight touchdowns, Casey was named to the 1968 Pro Bowl team. Shortly thereafter, Casey became disillusioned with the NFL and professional sports in general, and decided to return to his creative pursuits.

In 1969, Casey appeared in his first film, Guns of the Magnificent Seven, a sequel to The Magnificent Seven; that same year, he wrote Look at the People: Poems and Paintings, a book of art and poetry. Casey would publish two similar books later on in his career: Where is the Revolution? And Other Poems in 1973, and Silent Screams in 1983. In 1971, Casey produced an independent film entitled Bernie Casey: Black Artist, which focused on his thoughts and observations as a painter. As an artist, Casey has produced more than 30 solo exhibitions; he received an honorary doctorate degree from The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in Savannah, Georgia, where he served for twenty years as chairman of the board and advocated for arts education.

Casey has made over fifty-seven appearances in film and television, including the movies Cleopatra Jones, I’m Gonna Git You Sucka, Revenge of the Nerds, and Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure; and TV programs such as Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and L.A. Law. In 1997, Casey produced, wrote, directed and acted in The Dinner, an allegorical drama.

Casey passed away on September 19, 2017.

Accession Number

A2005.229

Sex

Male

Interview Date

10/4/2005 |and| 10/8/2005

Last Name

Casey

Schools

East High School

Garfield Elementary School

Champion Avenue School

Bowling Green State University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Bernie

Birth City, State, Country

Wyco

HM ID

CAS02

Favorite Season

Spring

State

West Virginia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Jamaica

Favorite Quote

I can do this.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

6/8/1939

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Soup

Death Date

9/19/2017

Short Description

Film actor and football player Bernie Casey (1939 - 2017 ) played for the San Francisco 49ers and the L.A. Rams before turning to acting in film and television. As an artist, Casey produced more than thirty solo exhibitions and served for twenty years as chairman of the board at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in Savannah, Georgia.

Employment

San Francisco 49ers

Los Angeles Rams

Various

Harris and Company

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
360,0:960,7:1800,17:4348,37:4753,43:5806,59:8074,89:12772,182:36724,597:37681,610:42205,691:44467,742:44815,747:46642,773:61130,900:61566,905:70420,1060:71190,1074:73360,1111:74900,1136:75880,1154:82700,1216:84140,1237:87340,1290:91168,1304:93020,1310:93650,1317:97990,1372:105633,1494:111076,1564:125676,1899:126187,1915:126917,1939:136186,2063:136658,2072:140810,2135:141930,2157:142570,2166:171742,2554:172126,2561:183806,2680:185540,2708:186254,2716:189100,2724:189681,2732:190013,2737:190677,2746:191424,2758:198894,2896:211466,3037:211956,3043:217614,3072:218142,3080:224866,3174:225482,3185:236960,3250:240308,3261:240620,3266:243370,3290:244258,3304:244628,3310:246108,3343:251214,3443:253310,3450$0,0:10286,152:13289,206:23729,307:24474,313:30378,363:30710,368:31374,412:35524,508:36022,515:40753,603:46494,656:47970,678:54366,790:55678,809:56006,814:58570,829:76760,1077:79070,1094:79410,1099:80260,1112:80600,1117:81365,1134:82045,1143:83065,1162:88180,1240:89012,1257:99893,1446:100502,1454:102329,1484:121096,1697:127976,1810:143278,2049:143806,2056:146490,2066:154262,2171:158290,2216:159239,2237:168106,2386:179012,2643:188868,2781:189204,2786:195924,2885:196596,2894:206713,3017:208260,3034:213620,3056:214489,3065:233975,3431:238707,3497:239071,3502:239617,3510:240618,3525:252436,3694:255532,3770:278572,4044:290630,4167:292776,4209:293294,4240:304530,4478
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Bernie Casey's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Bernie Casey lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Bernie Casey describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Bernie Casey describes how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Bernie Casey describes his childhood communities in Ohio and West Virginia

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Bernie Casey describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Bernie Casey talks about his parents' marriage

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Bernie Casey describes his family life in Wyco, West Virginia

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Bernie Casey recalls butchering hogs in Wyco, West Virginia

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Bernie Casey recalls how his family stored provisions in West Virginia

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Bernie Casey remembers moving with his family to Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Bernie Casey remembers Garfield Elementary School in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Bernie Casey describes the demographics of his community in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Bernie Casey describes his community at Garfield Elementary School

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Bernie Casey remembers Champion Junior High School in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Bernie Casey recalls his early artistic and athletic talents

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Bernie Casey recalls the opportunities for black students during segregation

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Bernie Casey recalls his early awareness of racial discrimination

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Bernie Casey remembers East High School in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Bernie Casey describes the lack of career prospects for black students

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Bernie Casey recalls his aspirations during high school

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Bernie Casey recalls his scholarship to Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Bernie Casey describes his relationship with his parents in his adult life

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Bernie Casey remembers Bowling Green State University

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Bernie Casey recalls racial discrimination at Bowling Green State University, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Bernie Casey recalls racial discrimination at Bowling Green State University, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Bernie Casey reflects upon the increase in black professional athletes

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Bernie Casey talks about being drafted by the National Football League

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Bernie Casey recalls uproar over his friendship with a white female classmate

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Bernie Casey recalls graduating from Bowling Green State University

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Bernie Casey recalls his career with the San Francisco 49ers football team

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Bernie Casey describes his art career in California

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Bernie Casey remembers his acting training with Jeff Corey

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Bernie Casey recalls establishing his art career in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Bernie Casey reflects upon his successful careers in several fields

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Bernie Casey recalls joining the board of Savannah College of Art and Design

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Bernie Casey recalls recruiting sports coaches for Savannah College of Art and Design

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Bernie Casey describes the growth of Savannah College of Art and Design

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Bernie Casey recalls his transition from professional football to acting

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Bernie Casey describes the challenge of beginning a career later in life

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Bernie Casey recalls his early acting roles

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Bernie Casey recalls acting in the movie 'Brian's Song'

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Bernie Casey talks about acting in blaxploitation films

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Bernie Casey talks about his roles based on historical African Americans

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Bernie Casey recalls working on the NBC series 'Harris and Company,' pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Bernie Casey recalls working on the NBC series 'Harris and Company,' pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Bernie Casey talks about his acting roles on television

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Bernie Casey reflects upon the legacy of the 'Roots' miniseries

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Bernie Casey reflects upon his challenges as a former professional athlete

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Bernie Casey talks about the history of race in America

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Bernie Casey reflects upon his legacy

DASession

2$2

DATape

5$6

DAStory

3$2

DATitle
Bernie Casey recalls joining the board of Savannah College of Art and Design
Bernie Casey talks about acting in blaxploitation films
Transcript
When I became an educator, I was the board chairman of the largest art university in the world, the Savannah College of Art and Design [Savannah, Georgia] with 5500 students.$$Wow.$$Most art universities are like six hundred, eight hundred students, maybe 1200, RISD [Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Rhode Island] and Cranbrook [Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan] and CalArts [California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, California] and all those schools, Chaminade [ph.], they're not that big. But, the president who asked me to become aboard, this story is really interesting, when I was doing a television series and I was being interviewed by NBC, and the president, Dr. Richard Rowan [Richard G. Rowan] at that time who was the, who had started the Savannah College of Art and Design, he started it--$$Okay.$$--in 1978.$$Okay.$$So, he saw the interview and he's a very tenacious fellow, tracked me down. He called NBC in New York [New York], and they said, "We didn't tape it here, it was in Los Angeles [California]." He kept pursuing everything until finally they left a message with me that Dr. Richard Rowan had called you and would like to speak with you, and I called him back at the Savannah College of Art and Design. At that time, it was two buildings and about twenty students. They had only been in business for a year.$$Since 1977.$$Seventy-eight [1978].$$Seventy-eight [1978], okay.$$He hocked his--he and his wife [Paula Wallace] were both educators and they refi'd [refinanced] their house and got some money from her parents [May Poetter and Paul Poetter], who were also educators, and they scratched this money up and they purchased an empty armory in Savannah, Georgia, and rehabbed it themselves. They painted it (laughter).$$They did the painting themselves (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) Yes and fixed the toilets and everything, yes. That housed the first beginning of that school. So, when he called, he said, "We have a gallery called Exhibit A [Exhibit A Gallery, Savannah, Georgia], would you consider showing here?" And I said, "I have two commitments, so I will show with you if it's possible when I'm done with those commitments." He said, "Fine, sir, we will look forward to that. Will you speak with me again?" I said, "I will." So, I called him and we arranged to have a show here in Savannah, Georgia. And so I flew in and had the show.$$That show, do you remember it?$$Oh sure, Exhibit A Gallery, which was in the armory. It was a well-received show--$$Okay.$$--and we became just the fastest of friends. And so he asked me if I would consider being a board member, and I was so charmed by his ideology and his courage to start a college because most colleges that we are mindful of started in 1892--$$Right.$$--nineteen twelve [1912] or something, you know what I mean?$$Exactly.$$So, no one starts a college today, he did, and so I accepted to come aboard as a board member--$$Okay.$$--and to fast forward I served that and then was asked to be the board chairman, and our ideologies were in sync because he had been a college basketball star--$$Oh.$$--so he understood athleticism and success--$$Right.$$--and all of that, so we were on the same page. So, our school, we with great diligence pursued educating the whole person because you're not just a painter--$$Right.$$--or sculptor or jewelry maker or designer or computer graphic artist, you are a person.$Following 'Brian's Song,' you started to get more attention, I'm imagining, in your career (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Yeah. Yes, I started to do films, and I had a conversation, this is interesting, with a young man who--an African American man who's a writer who wants to do a documentary about, he said, blaxploitation. And I said to him, "There was no such thing." He said, yeah the whole, there's a whole time when there was a lot of films with blaxploitation film. I said, "You know, that's a phrase that was coined by an African American man who put that phrase into the lexicon for the media, but there's no such thing as blaxploitation," because it was of the time, like I did 'Hit Man' and 'Cleopatra Jones' in 1972--$$Right.$$--and they were films that weren't terribly sophisticated, but they were certainly watchable. But, we all had those big afros and those bellbottom pants, and we strutted around and everything was a clenched fist, and you know, and power to the people.$$Right.$$So, that--I said, "Let me tell you something and be mindful of this, when white films were done for not much money for a very specific audience," because most films are done with an audience in mind, "and when they are complete and marketed to that audience no one calls them white exploitation films. You've been hoodwinked. You've been bamboozled as Malcolm [Malcolm X] would say."$$Right.$$So get that out of your mind. It's just a certain time and a certain genre film that that's what it was, and I can remember during that time, there was a phrase called the nigger budget of $400,000 or $500,000, and then you rush it out and if you got $3 million returned you were happy as you could be, so that was the turnover. Like today I don't think they'll do what they call, you flip it. You buy a condo for $175,000, and you hold it for a minute, you flip and sell it for $220,000--$$Right.$$--and you take, you make the profit.$$Right.$$That's, you know, same premise. So, until the bubble bursts and the bottom drops out, you can do pretty well with that. So, a lot of the studios would put up a small amount of money, rush the film out, shoot it in six weeks, I shot 'Hit Man' in six weeks, had it back in the theaters within six months, which is fast. The film made $4 million, they shot it for $300,000; they were happy as they could be. So by the time the smoked cleared with P and A, printing and advertising and all of that, and if you put, if the studio, if MGM [Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc., Los Angeles, California] did it with their money, so if they put up $300,000 and put in their pocket $700,000, are they happy, absolutely.$$Right, right made a quick turnaround.$$Sure. But, there's no such thing as blaxploitation.$$Well let, let me ask you this question. Because I know you are a very no-nonsense person, you think when black folks need to be thinking about advancing the cause if they're out there singing and dancing, they're wasting time and hurting us all.$$Sure.$$There were a few films that were meant to be jokes, a play--$$Sure.$$--and you were in one called--with the platform shoes.$$'I'm Gonna Git You Sucka.'$$'I'm Gonna Git You Sucka,' that's what--$$But, that was written to be a joke.$$It was written to be a--$$It was not a joke accidentally--$$Right.$$--it was written to be a joke.$$Okay.$$I mean it was a parody of certain genre of film.$$Right, right.$$And, and that's what made it so funny.$$Okay. So, but you would have no problems with that as long as it was meant to be a joke?$$Yeah, then you just simply must decide if the film is a good film or not for what it was made for.$$Okay.$$And if it is made to be a joke, it's not funny, well the film failed--$$Okay.$$--but the worse thing is it becomes a joke accidentally because it's so bad and stupid, that's demeaning.$$Okay. Now you did a film called 'Gordon's War.'$$No, that was, that was the fellow who passed away two years ago, Paul Winfield.$$Paul Winfield, okay, okay. Got, got that--$$I've done I think fifty-four films, and most I can't even remember.$$I remember one where you were stuck on a foreign planet, and Charlton Heston.$$No, that was Rock Hudson.$$Rock Hudson.$$'The Martian Chronicles.'$$'Martian Chronicles.'$$That's a classic.$$Right, right.$$Ray Bradbury.$$Right and--$$Classic.$$--it was a very serious film and I remember your performance (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Yeah, going, when they went to Mars.$$Right, right.$$Yeah.

Roscoe Lee Browne

Tony and Emmy award winning theatre, film and television actor Roscoe Lee Browne was born on May 2, 1922 in Woodbury, New Jersey. He attended Lincoln University in Pennsylvania until 1942, when he enlisted in the U.S. Army during World War II. After the war, he graduated from Lincoln in 1946. During this time, he studied French through Middlebury College's summer language program. He received his master's degree from Columbia University, then taught briefly at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. Browne also found success as an athlete, winning two American indoor championships and setting records in the 800 meters, and winning the 1951 world championship. After a knee injury hampered his athletic career, Browne worked as the national sales representative for Schenley Import Corporation.

He began his acting career with a small role in a 1956 New York Shakespeare Festival production of 'Julius Caesar.' Soon thereafter, Browne became an understudy for Ossie Davis’ performance in 'Purlie Victorious.' Although Browne played the character of Archibald in 'The Blacks,' a play that launched numerous other African American stars, Browne’s career did not take off until his 1963 performance in the off-Broadway play 'Benito Cereno.' He would reprise this role again in both 1965 and 1976. In 1966, Browne performed his own poetry while directing 'An Evening of Negro Poetry and Folk Music.' Browne continued to work actively in theater throughout much of his career, performing August Wilson’s 'Joe Turner's Come and Gone' in 1989 and giving a Tony Award-winning performance in the August Wilson play 'Two Trains Running' in 1992.

Browne also worked in a variety of films, whether as a character actor (in 'Superfly' and 'Uptown Saturday Night') or as a voiceover performer (as the narrator of 'Babe' and 'Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties'). His television career was prolific and diverse. He received an Emmy award for his recurring role as Dr. Foster on 'The Cosby Show,' a nomination for 'Barney Miller,' and achieved critical acclaim for his work on 'All in the Family' and 'Soap.' His list of television credits included performances in 'Law and Order,' 'E.R.,' 'Will and Grace' and 'New York Undercover.' He also did voiceover work for numerous cartoons, including animated versions of 'Batman' and 'Spiderman.' In addition to his work as a performer, Roscoe Lee Browne wrote short stories, plays, worked as a musical director and was a gifted poet.

Browne passed away on April 11, 2007 at age 81.

Accession Number

A2005.234

Sex

Male

Interview Date

10/5/2005 |and| 3/30/2006

Last Name

Browne

Middle Name

Lee

Schools

Woodbury Jr-Sr High

Lincoln University

Columbia University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Roscoe

Birth City, State, Country

Woodbury

HM ID

BRO34

Favorite Season

Spring

Sponsor

The Marmon Group

State

New Jersey

Favorite Vacation Destination

New York, New York

Favorite Quote

Carpe Diem.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

5/2/1922

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chicken (Pot Pie), Pudding (Corn)

Death Date

4/11/2007

Short Description

Stage actor, film actor, and television actor Roscoe Lee Browne (1922 - 2007 ) won Tony and Emmy awards for his work. His film and television credits included, 'The Cosby Show,' 'Uptown Saturday Night,' 'Babe,' 'All In The Family,' and 'Law and Order.'

Employment

Schenley Import Corporation

New York Shakespeare Festival

The Actors Studio

Negro Ensemble Company

Main Sponsor
Main Sponsor URL
Favorite Color

Emerald Green

Timing Pairs
0,0:6072,89:12410,189:12778,194:35450,438:38362,481:40728,510:52152,619:63400,801:68350,895:72949,936:77768,984:79144,1004:84910,1061:101376,1355:101880,1362:102216,1367:103896,1405:116392,1619:123325,1708:123650,1714:124365,1728:132680,1850:134500,1885:134780,1890:136670,1926:139960,1935:141858,1965:144194,1990:147333,2066:147625,2071:148866,2093:161630,2368:174613,2490:192014,2722:193080,2736:210095,2944:217834,3080:219325,3172:231480,3282:232943,3353:241770,3514:242426,3523:249315,3699:252315,3765:252990,3789:260040,3956:260415,3962:261015,3971:271787,4141:276477,4249:276745,4254:279830,4264:281040,4278$0,0:474,25:1647,66:6063,211:11928,375:23700,550:29641,666:37730,803:38170,809:39754,836:53036,972:53692,994:56398,1037:59678,1102:67442,1188:71009,1286:71237,1291:89940,1528:92180,1683:92580,1689:94260,1714:95380,1738:99852,1758:100593,1799:107340,1879:118361,2065:118847,2072:123116,2126:125729,2185:129193,2198:130770,2225:131517,2236:144516,2476:144826,2482:156212,2668:166116,2816:172040,2856:175160,2932:176120,3048:176600,3055:186530,3219
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Roscoe Lee Browne's interview, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Roscoe Lee Browne lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Slating of Roscoe Lee Browne's interview, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Roscoe Lee Browne describes his mother's ancestry

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Roscoe Lee Browne lists his father's siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Roscoe Lee Browne talks about the spelling of his last name, Browne

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Roscoe Lee Browne describes his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Roscoe Lee Browne recounts how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Roscoe Lee Browne recalls reading his father's letters to his mother

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Roscoe Lee Browne describes his father's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Roscoe Lee Browne describes his father's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Roscoe Lee Browne describes his brother, Sylvanus Browne, Jr.

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Roscoe Lee Browne describes his father's ministry

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Roscoe Lee Browne remembers meeting Marian Anderson

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Roscoe Lee Browne describes his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Roscoe Lee Browne describes his upbringing

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Roscoe Lee Browne recalls his introduction to Lincoln University

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Roscoe Lee Browne recalls working at Lincoln University's Vail Memorial Library, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Roscoe Lee Browne recalls working at Lincoln University's Vail Memorial Library, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Roscoe Lee Browne recalls his time at Woodbury Junior-Senior High School

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Roscoe Lee Browne recalls trying out for his high school's mile relay team

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Roscoe Lee Browne describes his activities at Lincoln University

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Roscoe Lee Browne recalls traveling south as a college student, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Roscoe Lee Browne recalls traveling south as a college student, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Roscoe Lee Browne recalls a leadership conference at Lincoln University, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Roscoe Lee Browne recalls a leadership conference at Lincoln University, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Roscoe Lee Browne remembers enlisting in the U.S. Army

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Roscoe Lee Browne recalls recruiting runners while serving in the U.S. Army

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Roscoe Lee Browne recalls serving in the Intelligence and Reconnaissance platoon, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Roscoe Lee Browne recalls serving in the Intelligence and Reconnaissance platoon, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Roscoe Lee Browne recalls the death of his best friend in World War II

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Roscoe Lee Browne talks about Harrison Dillard

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Roscoe Lee Browne describes his return to Lincoln University after World War II

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Roscoe Lee Browne talks about Kwame Nkrumah

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Roscoe Lee Browne recalls his track participation in New York City

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Roscoe Lee Browne recalls moving to New York City

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Roscoe Lee Browne recalls meeting Charles "Honi" Coles and Dinah Washington in Harlem

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Roscoe Lee Browne talks about Roscoe C. Brown

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Roscoe Lee Browne recalls trying out for the Olympics in 1948, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Roscoe Lee Browne recalls trying out for the Olympics in 1948, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Roscoe Lee Browne remembers setting track records in Europe

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Roscoe Lee Browne remembers injuring his knee

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Roscoe Lee Browne remembers his brother's meniscus surgery

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Roscoe Lee Browne recalls working for Schenley Import Corporation, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Roscoe Lee Browne recalls working for Schenley Import Corporation, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Roscoe Lee Browne remembers meeting Jake "Greasy Thumb" Guzik

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Roscoe Lee Browne remembers how his transition to acting began

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Roscoe Lee Browne recalls his friends' reactions to his ambition to act

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Roscoe Lee Browne describes his transition to acting

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Roscoe Lee Browne remembers acting in the New York Shakespeare Festival

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Roscoe Lee Browne remembers leaving Schenley Import Corporation, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Roscoe Lee Browne describes his early theater career, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Roscoe Lee Browne recalls acting in 'The Blacks' and 'Benito Cereno'

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Roscoe Lee Browne recalls controversy about 'The Blacks'

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Roscoe Lee Browne recalls acting in 'Dream on Monkey Mountain' with the Negro Ensemble Company

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Roscoe Lee Browne remembers revealing his acting ambition, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Roscoe Lee Browne remembers revealing his acting ambition, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Roscoe Lee Browne recalls auditioning for the New York Shakespeare Festival

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Roscoe Lee Browne recalls being cast in 'Julius Caesar,' pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Roscoe Lee Browne recalls being cast in 'Julius Caesar,' pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Roscoe Lee Browne remembers leaving Schenley Import Corporation, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Roscoe Lee Browne describes his early theater career

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Roscoe Lee Browne recalls acting in 'Taming of the Shrew' and 'Romeo and Juliet'

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Roscoe Lee Browne recalls being cast as Aaron the Moor in 'Titus Andronicus'

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Roscoe Lee Browne describes acting in 'Titus Andronicus'

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Roscoe Lee Browne remembers his early theater reviews

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Roscoe Lee Browne recalls George Plimpton and understudying for William Marshall

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Roscoe Lee Browne describes his formal acting training

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Roscoe Lee Browne remembers Stella Adler and Mark Rydell

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Roscoe Lee Browne recalls performing in 'Bohikee Creek,' pt. 1

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Roscoe Lee Browne recalls performing in 'Bohikee Creek,' pt. 2

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Roscoe Lee Browne recalls meeting Stella Adler after writing 'Song'

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Roscoe Lee Browne recalls being elected to The Actors Studio

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Roscoe Lee Browne recalls developing his theater network at The Actors Studio

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Roscoe Lee Browne remembers acting in 'Benito Cereno'

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Roscoe Lee Browne recalls auditioning for 'The Blacks: A Clown Show'

Tape: 11 Story: 1 - Roscoe Lee Browne recalls deciding to act in 'The Blacks'

Tape: 11 Story: 2 - Roscoe Lee Browne recalls obtaining an Actors' Equity Association membership, pt. 1

Tape: 11 Story: 3 - Roscoe Lee Browne recalls obtaining an Actors' Equity Association membership, pt. 2

Tape: 11 Story: 4 - Roscoe Lee Browne recalls acting in 'The Blacks' and 'Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright'

Tape: 11 Story: 5 - Roscoe Lee Browne remembers Sarah Cunningham and John Randolph

Tape: 11 Story: 6 - Roscoe Lee Browne recalls 'The Blacks' touring company, pt. 1

Tape: 11 Story: 7 - Roscoe Lee Browne recalls 'The Blacks' touring company, pt. 2

Tape: 12 Story: 1 - Roscoe Lee Browne recalls acting in 'General Seeger'

Tape: 12 Story: 2 - Roscoe Lee Browne recalls acting in 'Dark of the Moon' and 'The Cool World,' pt. 1

Tape: 12 Story: 3 - Roscoe Lee Browne recalls acting in 'Dark of the Moon' and 'The Cool World,' pt. 2

Tape: 12 Story: 4 - Roscoe Lee Browne remembers acting in a play by Maria Irene Fornes

Tape: 12 Story: 5 - Roscoe Lee Browne remembers acting in 'The Ballad of the Sad Cafe'

Tape: 12 Story: 6 - Roscoe Lee Browne describes 'An Evening of Negro Poetry and Folk Music,' pt. 1

Tape: 12 Story: 7 - Roscoe Lee Browne describes 'An Evening of Negro Poetry and Folk Music,' pt. 2

Tape: 13 Story: 1 - Roscoe Lee Browne remembers going to Los Angeles, California, pt. 1

Tape: 13 Story: 2 - Roscoe Lee Browne remembers going to Los Angeles, California, pt. 2

Tape: 13 Story: 3 - Roscoe Lee Browne remembers his transition to Hollywood

DASession

1$1

DATape

6$7

DAStory

2$3

DATitle
Roscoe Lee Browne remembers setting track records in Europe
Roscoe Lee Browne remembers acting in the New York Shakespeare Festival
Transcript
So we're now into 1952.$$Right.$$And in '51 [1951] I had been the best in the world, 800 meters. I did it in Paris [France] at the Stade Jean-Bouin. It wasn't a particularly outrageously fast time. It was just the best of the year--$$Right.$$--all over the (laughter) world. It was 149-something, although I had run faster than that in the next year--no, that same year in, in Austria, in Vienna. It was 149-something, point 2. And then I was challenged by Elmar Brugh [ph.] because he was after all the European 1500 and 800 meter champion that year. So I had come from behind to beat him that day. I was just back in the rock. And the Americans say, "Ross [HistoryMaker Roscoe Lee Browne], go get the lead out, come on." And I came around the--and won it. So he challenged me on, on the, over the PA system. I mean the, the reporters came to the mics and said to him in French, of course, 'cause he's French, "What's that like?" And he said, "Well, I, I really am 1500 meters," he said in French. "And I'd like to challenge Monsieur Browne to a thousand meter race." And then they brought the mic to me to--they start to translate, and I said, "Mais non, je comprends." And I said, "Perhaps," in French, I said, "Perhaps Monsieur Elmar Brugh does not know that I am the American 1000-yard champion twice," I said. I said, "What's a few little tiny meters to me?" (Laughter) And so the race is on. We went to the track [Stade Olympique Yves-du-Manoir], Colombes [France], Colombes, right.$$Okay. And this was late (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) And that was like--$$--nineteen fifty-one [1951]?$$This is '51 [1951].$$Okay.$$So it's there like a week or two weeks later. And there are other people in the race from around the world, but I do win it. And I set an Americans--it's called American citizens, 'cause nobody runs a thousand meters. It's, it's not a race anywhere, so it was called American citizens championship and record. The record that I had broken that day was Glenn Cunningham's, 'cause he was a miler.$$Right.$$But he ran this thing there for these people in France and Paris at Colombes, is the name of the track. So, my friend, Mal Whitfield, years later we were--he's living in my apartment in New York [New York]. And I ask, 'cause he knows I would never open anything personal, never, never, never. I said, "What is that little book?" He said, "That little book?" "Yeah, yeah." I said, "It's not the chicks," 'cause I knew it's, I knew which book he kept the names of girls. He said, "Well, anytime any of you, particularly you, go to Europe or anywhere and set a record I write it down there." 'Cause you know, we're in the same event--$$Right, right.$$--except he would not run thousands. Indoors, Malvin was, he had won the indoor 600 [meters] when I won the indoor 1000 [meters]. But we both were 800 meter runners, half-milers. I said, "And you're going after them?" Well, I had three somewhere in Europe. He went to these tiny little towns and broke them and, 'cause he knows me better than most people. He knew that once I heard about it, I would laugh my (laughter) head off. It's only one he's never found, and it's too late because we both can't run anymore. But it's too late. I, I told him recently, "You never found the one in Oberhausen [Germany]." He said, "Do you have a record?" I said, "I have a track record in Oberhausen." I said, "You found Ludwigshafen [Germany], and you went to that track, Colombes, and broke what was my American citizens record," (laughter). And I think I have one somewhere else. I'm not sure (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Okay. That's--$$But you know, nobody--$$--still standing?$$Nobody has it then. It's not even a record that says I won it or something.$$Right. But that record is still there.$$I guess it's still there--$$Yeah, yeah.$$--maybe in Dublin [Ireland].$$Right.$$It's, it used to be my proudest boast that I was twice the Irish national champion, because you know, track works the same way as tennis, for example. The American U.S. Open [U.S. Open Tennis Championships, New York, New York] tennis champion this year is Roger Federer from Switzerland.$$Right.$$It's the same thing in track. If you run it, you are that country's open champion.$Well, this is the second time you've done this in your life. The first time was: I'm gonna run track and beat everyone else out there (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Yes, only because he [Arthur "Ted" Browne] said, "Gosh, mom [Lovie Usher Browne], can't he do nothing yet?" And then, "Wouldn't you know he'd go out for a foreign sport," (laughter).$$All right.$$And I knew that day, and I just went and did it. But any rate, so I read it. I did not presume to think that I could act, but I knew I knew the literature already. I'd taught some of that in, at Lincoln [Lincoln University, Lincoln University, Pennsylvania].$$Right.$$And so I went down there. The next day was Saturday, and I went there. And I'd do you my whole audition, but that would outrage the world. But, by six p.m. I had my first professional job. And the first words that Joseph Papp said to me after the director had me read and whatever, and I realized this, this must be Papp. I had not heard of him. All of theater knew his name.$$Right.$$But I knew nothing. And, but (unclear), he was just sitting in the back in this audition. And there were a lot of actors there to audition. It was in a little church [Emmanuel Presbyterian Church] down the Lower East Side [New York, New York]. And he just came down, and he looked at me. He says, "You're new to me." I said--he said, "Well, you're new to me. How long have you been an actor?" Meaning, why have I not seen you?$$Right.$$I said, "Well, I've been an actor for twelve hours, but I have no intention of bearing any torches." And he broke up laughing, and he said, "No, you're good. You love words." He said, "You see"--these were his exact words: "Shakespeare is a whole world, and you're part of it." And I stayed there, and he said, "Okay," and I said, "Thank you." He says, "I'm Joe Papp," just like that.$$And that play was that he--$$'Julius Caesar' [William Shakespeare].$$'Julius Caesar.'$$I was the Soothsayer--$$Okay.$$Because I'd not acted, you know--and Soothsayer in the first half and Pindarus in the second half. And he loved it when (unclear), they continued doing plays and I'd say, "Joseph, there's no role here for anything." I said, "Petruchio's servant something, anything, some, one of those little hangers-on." Well, I was a hanger-on, and, and it was, it, it made Colleen Dewhurst this 'Taming of the Shrew' ['The Taming of the Shrew,' William Shakespeare]. And, and Jack Cannon, who was one of the great people, he threw an absolutely made up fit. He came--we were all there sitting in the park [Central Park, New York, New York], or on the Lower East Side, 'cause we began the Lower East because the park wasn't ready yet to put down those chairs and just build a stage. He said, "Can you beat that?" And he's just cussing. He was a most marvelous curser. You really knew that he had invented all the words. He said, "They like me all right. And they raved about Colleen." He said, "Roscoe [HistoryMaker Roscoe Lee Browne] doesn't have a line in it." And they talked about how this marvelous guy moved through (laughter) the--and it was I, and we laughed ourselves silly.$$Now--$$Colleen says, "All you gotta do, darling, is walk."

Arthur Wellesley French

A director and actor who has appeared regularly on and off Broadway and in movies and television for more than forty years, Arthur Wellesley French, Jr. was born in New York City to Arthur Wellesley French and Ursilla Idonia Ollivierre. Educated at Brooklyn College, French worked for the New York City Department of Social Services before he began studying the Strasberg technique with Peggy Feury and acting in community theatre. He also studied with Maxwell Glanville, the founder of the Dramatic Workshop, as well as performing street plays in Harlem for Amiri Baraka's Black Arts Repertory Theater. A role in an off-Broadway satirical play, Raisin' Hell in the Son at the Provincetown Playhouse, launched his career as a professional actor.

In 1965, French appeared in Douglas Turner Ward's Day of Absence, out of which the Negro Ensemble Company evolved in 1967, producing professional theatre using Black artists, performers, writers, directors, actors, and craftspeople. During his career, French has performed in plays by Lonne Elder III, Ron Milner and August Wilson; a list which, including Ward, encompasses many contemporary African American playwrights. While French’s broad body of work in theatre includes acting in everything from Death of a Salesman with George C. Scott and Shakespeare’s King Lear to Melvin van Peebles' Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death, he has also appeared in films including Malcolm X, Crooklyn, Car Wash, Round Midnight, Kinsey, and on television programs such as Law and Order, as well as in commercials. He has directed, among others, the South African playwright Lungelo Mvusi's Just Won't; Marjorie Elliott's Branches from the Same Tree; Clifford Mason's Two Bourgeois Blacks; George Bernard Shaw's The Village Wooing; Steve Carter's One Last Look; Rudy Gray's Chameleon; Estelle Ritchie's Love You to Pieces and Wole Soyinka's Strong Breed for which he garnered two Audience Development Committee (AUDELCO) nominations.

Along with the Audience Development Committee nominations and much critical acclaim, French won the Obie for Sustained Excellence of Performance in 1997. French currently teaches acting at Herbert Berghof (HB) Studio in New York as he continues to direct and to act on stage and in film.

Accession Number

A2005.127

Sex

Male

Interview Date

6/7/2005

Last Name

French

Maker Category
Marital Status

Widower

Middle Name

Wellesley

Organizations
Schools

J.H.S 40

The Bronx High School of Science

Morris High School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Arthur

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

FRE04

Favorite Season

Winter

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Los Angeles, California

Favorite Quote

Try To Keep Moving Forward.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

11/6/1949

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Pastas, Veal

Short Description

Stage actor, film actor, and stage director Arthur Wellesley French (1949 - ) has appeared regularly on and off Broadway and in movies and television. Along with Audience Development Committee nominations and much critical acclaim, French won an Obie Award for Sustained Excellence of Performance in 1997. French also has taught acting at Herbert Berghof (HB) Studio in New York.

Employment

Department of Social Services

Negro Ensemble Company

HB Studios

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Arthur Wellesley French's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Arthur Wellesley French lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Arthur Wellesley French describes his maternal family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Arthur Wellesley French describes his mother's childhood in the British West Indies and her move to the United States

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Arthur Wellesley French describes his paternal family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Arthur Wellesley French describes how his parents met in New York City

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Arthur Wellesley French shares his earliest childhood aspiration

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Arthur Wellesley French describes his father's work

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Arthur Wellesley French describes his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Arthur Wellesly French describes his childhood neighborhood in Harlem, New York City

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Arthur Wellesly French describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood in Harlem, New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Arthur Wellesley French describes memorable figures from his childhood neighborhood in Harlem, New York, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Arthur Wellesley French describes his home life growing up in New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about attending St. Philip's Episcopal Church in Harlem, New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Arthur Wellesley French describes his childhood interests and activities

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Arthur Wellesley French describes his childhood interests in reading and math

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Arthur Wellesley French describes memorable teachers from P.S. 90 and J.H.S. 40 in New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about overcoming asthma and playing sports while growing up in the Bronx, New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Arthur Wellesley French describes his early interest in drama in high school

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Arthur Wellesley talks about his father's death and working to help support his mother

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Arthur French talks about attending The Bronx High School of Science and Morris High School in New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about helping his mother with her sewing jobs after his father's death

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Arthur Wellesley French describes his experience at Morris High School in the Bronx, New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about working for the New York City Department of Social Services

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Arthur Wellesley French describes his experiences working for the New York City Department of Social Services

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about his early interest in acting

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about working as a stagehand for doo-wop groups in the late 1950s

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about the Dramatic Workshop and his acting coach, Peggy Feury

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about joining Maxwell Granville's acting group in Harlem, New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about working behind the scenes for the play 'The Blacks: A Clown Show'

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Arthur French recalls his first acting role in the play 'Raisin Hell in the Son'

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about marrying his wife in 1961

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Arthur Wellesley French describes the play 'Raisin' Hell in the Son'

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about pursuing acting while working full time

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about acting in three summer stock plays, including HistoryMaker Ossie Davis' 'Purlie Victorious'

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Arthur Wellesley French remembers meeting HistoryMaker Douglas Turner Ward

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Arthur Wellesley French describes the plays 'Happy Ending' and 'Day of Absence'

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about notable figures who attended the play 'Days of Absence'

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about the play 'Perry's Mission'

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about the Negro Ensemble Company's groundbreaking success

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Arthur Wellesley French reflects on the naming of the Negro Ensemble Company

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Arthur Wellesley French describes the plays produced by Negro Ensemble Company in New York City during the late 1960s

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about his response to reading theater reviews

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Arthur Wellesley French reflects on the early years and accomplishments of the Negro Ensemble Company

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Arthur Wellesley French explains how his attempt to act in Hollywood, California was derailed

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about applying to The Bronx High School of Science in the Bronx, New York City

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about his decision to commit to acting full time

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about the opening of HistoryMaker Melvin Van Peebles' play 'Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death'

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about the cast of HistoryMaker Melvin Van Peebles' play 'Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death'

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about acting in 'Our Street' and the play 'Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death'

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Arthur Wellesley French remembers stage director Gilbert Moses

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about performing the play 'Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death' at the Tony Awards

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Arthur Wellesley French describes the powerful ending of 'Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death'

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about the controversial aspects of 'Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death'

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about his roles in various productions, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about his roles in various productions, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about his role in 'Death of a Salesman'

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about the play 'The River Niger'

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about 'Ceremonies in Dark Old Men' and directing August Wilson's 'Fences' in Vermont

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Arthur Wellesley French remembers playwrights Lonne Elders III and August Wilson

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Arthur Wellesley describes his acting awards

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Arthur Wellesley French remembers actress Rosetta LeNoire

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Arthur Wellesley French lists his roles in various television shows and movies

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Arthur Wellesley French shares an anecdote about one of his early television performances

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about protests against 'Song of the Lusitanian Bogey' in London, England

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about being typecast as older characters

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about current and future projects

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Arthur Wellesley talks about the theme of passing in the film 'Bellclair Times'

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about his training in method acting

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Arthur Wellesley French talks about continuing challenges in African American representation in film

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Arthur Wellesley French describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Arthur Wellesley French reflects upon his life

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Arthur Wellesley French reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Arthur Wellesley French remembers his mother, Ursilla Ollivierre French

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Arthur Wellesley French shares his thoughts about discrimination and historical misrepresentation

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Arthur Wellesley French describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

7$4

DATitle
Arthur Wellesley French talks about the Negro Ensemble Company's groundbreaking success
Arthur Wellesley French talks about the cast of HistoryMaker Melvin Van Peebles' play 'Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death'
Transcript
From around the country, black people--when other black folks get involved in the theater they look to the Negro Ensemble Company--$$Right.$$--as the place to be.$$Well--$$Did you have a sense of that, being in it?$$Well, at first, well, after, this was after 'Happy Ending' and 'Day of Absence.' So, I don't say I had a sense of it. I was very happy to be part of it. And I'd worked with Doug [HistoryMaker Douglas Turner Ward] before. The same people who were the head people at the Negro Ensemble Company were the same three people who produced 'Happy Ending' and 'Day of Absence,' which was [HistoryMaker] Robert Hooks, Douglas Turner Ward, and Gerald Krone. So, I was happy to be there with this company. I knew every black actor in the city [New York, New York] wanted to be part of this, so I felt privileged to be part of it. I think what happened is that we were there and we were in the same theater [St. Mark's Playhouse, New York, New York] where we did 'Happy Ending' and 'Day of Absence.' And we opened, our first play was 'Song of the Lusitanian Bogey' by Peter Weiss. Well, what happened, and I guess it was surprising, is that we did our first play. And we just did a play, and I'd done plays before. And almost overnight it seemed, you know, when we got reviewed, suddenly we would read about being compared to the Moscow Art Theater, and being compared to great theaters of the past. There were lines around the block, mostly all white, coming to see us. So, there was that immediate--it was just, just happened. So one day we were a group of people putting on a play, and the next day we were kind of getting all this publicity and a lot of press. And we became--like international press. So it was, it was--but Doug kind of kept us. Doug would let us enjoy that for about twenty-four hours. And then he would say, "Okay, now we've got to start, we've got to start rehearsing the next play." So, we went on and moved on to the next thing. But suddenly that became the place to be. Every reviewer was there. I mean everyone wanted, you know, to find out what these black people were doing, how did this happen? So, we were known throughout, you know, the country almost immediately. I mean it was, I don't think--I personally didn't understand or was aware of the scope of it at the time--$$Now, how--$$--of how far reaching it was. To say it was known all over the world in a very short time.$What role did you play in 'Ain't Supposed to Die [a Natural Death,' Melvin Van Peebles]?$$Well, we didn't have names. I opened both the first act and the second act (laughter). But it was, the experience of that--it was--how serendipitous the whole business is--it's that when the auditions came up, being in my usual ignorance, I wasn't really aware of the 'Ain't Supposed to Die' album. I was doing a series out of Baltimore [Maryland], a television series called 'Our Street' with Whitney LeBlanc. I don't know if you know Whitney. Did you ever interview Whitney? Whitney LeBlanc, and who was down there? The young Howard Rollins was down there. And when the auditions came up I'd just gotten a contract, like ten out of twelve weeks in Baltimore. So, I was about to quit anyway my job. I don't think I'd quit then yet. Anyway, I couldn't go to the audition. And the agreement was, it was like you're going to be there ten out of twelve weeks, but we'll tell you which two weeks you can take off. So, I missed the auditions. But after the first week they said, "We have to go back and shoot an episode before your character was introduced. So, you're off next week." I'd only worked one week. So I came back and kind of called the agent. They said, "We're seeing people on callbacks." But they saw me, and they got me, I got me in and I got a part in the show. I didn't have to go to a callback. But if I hadn't had that week off, I'd never been in it. So I opened the show singing, 'It Just Don't Make No Sense.' And it was a period of songs and street scenes and what not. And then I opened the second act singing, 'Good Morning Sunshine.' It was a great cast. Garrett Morris was in the cast; Dick Anthony Williams; B Winde [Beatrice Winde]; who else? Phylicia Rashad came in after. I'm trying to think of the people--Sati Jamal. It was a big cast, lots of wonderful people, Albert Hall. And I'm going to forget somebody. But don't print it, don't say any names, because I'll never remember them all. But anyway that was, that was, you know, my first Broadway experience. We ran for like eight months.

Isaac Hayes

Musician, actor, and entertainer, Isaac Hayes, was born Isaac Lee Hayes, Jr., on August 20, 1942, in Covington, Tennessee. When his parents died at an early age, Hayes went to live with his grandparents in Memphis. Hayes was a good student in high school, wanting to be a doctor; in the ninth grade, however, he dropped out to earn money. Hayes later enrolled in a night school from which he earned his diploma in 1962.

By the time Hayes was in his teens, he was adept at playing the piano, organ, and saxophone, as well as having spent years singing in a church choir. When he dropped out of school, Hayes immediately began performing with local R&B groups in Memphis, earning a solid reputation as a musician. Hayes recorded his first album in 1962, and by 1964, he was playing with the house band at Stax Records, one of the premier soul music recording labels in the South. After writing a number of hits in collaboration with David Porter for the group Sam & Dave, Hayes released his first solo album, Presenting Isaac Hayes, in 1967. Two years later, his breakthrough album, Hot Buttered Soul was released and Hayes became a star.

After producing a soundtrack to an experimental film by author Norman Mailer, Hayes was approached to write the musical score of Shaft in 1971; he would become the first African American to win an Oscar for Best Song. Hayes became involved in acting in the mid-1970s with an Italian film titled Uomini Duri, released in America as Three Tough Guys, and the title role in the film Truck Turner in 1974. Hayes returned to acting in 1981 with a role in Escape from New York and 1988’s I’m Gonna Git You Sucka!. The 1990s and beyond saw a resurgence of Hayes in films, playing roles in The Blues Brothers 2000, Dr. Doolitte, and a remake of Shaft; he also became the voice of “Chef” in the animated television series South Park.

Hayes had a radio program on KISS-FM and was the spokesman for the World Literacy Crusade, a part of the Scientology movement. Hayes also established the Isaac Hayes Foundation to partner with nonprofit organizations to promote human rights. While in Ada, Ghana, in 1995, as a part of the World Literacy Crusade, Hayes was crowned as a king, adopting the name of Nene Katey Ocansey I. Hayes also opened up a chain of restaurants across the country. In 2002, Hayes was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Isaac Hayes passed away on August 10, 2008, at the age of sixty-five.

Hayes was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 25, 2003.

Accession Number

A2003.142

Sex

Male

Interview Date

6/25/2003

Last Name

Hayes

Middle Name

L.

Organizations
First Name

Isaac

Birth City, State, Country

Covington

HM ID

HAY03

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Tennessee

Favorite Vacation Destination

Caribbean

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Tennessee

Birth Date

8/20/1942

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Memphis

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Soul Food

Death Date

8/10/2008

Short Description

Film actor, musician and singer, and film score composer Isaac Hayes (1942 - 2008 ) was the first African American to win an Oscar for Best Song. In addition to his musical activities, Hayes was also a prolific actor and literacy advocate.

Favorite Color

Red

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Isaac Hayes interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Isaac Hayes's favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Isaac Hayes traces his family's roots in Africa

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Isaac Hayes discusses his family's southern heritage

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Isaac Hayes shares family stories from the U.S. Civil War

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Isaac Hayes details his mother's family history

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Isaac Hayes discusses his mother's mental illness and institutionalization

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Isaac Hayes describes his reunion with his father

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Isaac Hayes describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood in Covington, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Isaac Hayes recalls his early affinity for music

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Isaac Hayes discusses his early school life

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Isaac Hayes explains his decision to stay in school

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Isaac Hayes changes career plans after a successful talent show

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Isaac Hayes describes his musical career in junior high and high school

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Isaac Hayes reveals the extent of his family's poverty

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Isaac Hayes describes his early jobs

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Isaac Hayes remembers his mentor, a white employer

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Isaac Hayes chooses not to puruse criminal activities as a child

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Isaac Hayes explains how candy bars prevented him from receiving his high school diploma

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Isaac Hayes remembers his early musical gigs

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Isaac Hayes shares a humorous anecdote about his piano playing ability

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Isaac Hayes details his success as a songwriter

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Isaac Hayes describes the beginnings of his career as a vocalist

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Isaac Hayes explains his signature look

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Isaac Hayes describes the impact of Martin Luther King, Jr's assassination

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Isaac Hayes reminisces about the creation of his breakthrough album, 'Hot Buttered Soul'

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Isaac Hayes discusses the role of fashion in performance

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Isaac Hayes explains his moniker 'Black Moses'

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Isaac Hayes lists some of his discography

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Isaac Hayes considers the need for cooperation across generations

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Isaac Hayes emphasizes African American economic cooperation

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Isaac Hayes stresses culturally inclusive education

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Isaac Hayes describes being honored as a Ghanaian king

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Isaac Hayes contributes to development efforts in Africa

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Isaac Hayes describes the advantages of Scientology

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Isaac Hayes details his role in the film 'Shaft'

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Isaac Hayes recalls composing the memorable score for 'Shaft'

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Isaac Hayes reflects on his Academy Award for the score of 'Shaft'

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Isaac Hayes discusses his many film roles

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Isaac Hayes shares several of his favorite television roles

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Isaac Hayes is forced to file for bankruptcy

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Isaac Hayes describes his current business endeavors

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Isaac Hayes discusses his healthy lifestyle

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Isaac Hayes names his favorite musicians

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Isaac Hayes remembers fellow musician Barry White

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Isaac Hayes considers the black community's needs

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Isaac Hayes considers his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Isaac Hayes describes his future plans

Tape: 6 Story: 12 - Isaac Hayes gives his philosophy on life's trials

Tape: 6 Story: 13 - Isaac Hayes describes his contribution to the world

Geoffrey Holder

Artist, dancer, and choreographer, Geoffrey Holder, was born in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, on August 20, 1930. While in Port-of-Spain, Holder attended Queens Royal College, but received much of his education in dancing and painting from the Holder Dance Company, his older brother Boscoe's dance troupe.

Holder premiered in his brother's dance company at the age of seven, and by 1947, he was in charge of the troupe. After being seen by dancer Agnes de Mille in 1952, Holder was invited to New York to audition; to finance the trip for himself and his troupe, he sold twenty of his paintings. After failing to receive a sponsorship to tour and perform, Holder began teaching at the Katherine Dunham School of Cultural Arts. In 1954, Holder made his first Broadway performance as Samedi in House of Flowers. For the next two years, Holder appeared as a principal dancer on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera Ballet and continued to work with his own troupe through 1960. Holder also continued to paint, and in 1957 was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship; that same year brought his first film role, All Night Long, a modern retelling of Othello. Roles continued to come in, with Holder playing Baron Samedi in the James Bond film Live and Let Die and Punjab in Annie. In more recent years, Holder appeared in the Eddie Murphy film Boomerang.

Not limited to his acting and painting, Holder also directed; his production of The Wiz, an all-black retelling of The Wizard of Oz, earned him Tony Awards for best director and best costume design. Holder also wrote Black Gods, Green Islands, an illustrated collection of Caribbean folklore, and Geoffrey Holder's Caribbean Cookbook. Holder and his wife, dancer Carmen DeLavallade, met and married while Holder was performing in House of Flowers in 1955; the couple lived and worked in New York City.

Holder passed away on October 5, 2014.

Accession Number

A2003.081

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/16/2003

Last Name

Holder

Marital Status

Married

Organizations
Search Occupation Category
First Name

Geoffrey

Birth City, State, Country

Port of Spain

HM ID

HOL02

Favorite Season

None

Favorite Vacation Destination

Paris, France, Haiti, Mexico

Favorite Quote

We're all born mad; some of us remain so.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

8/20/1930

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

Trinidad & Tobago

Favorite Food

None

Death Date

10/5/2014

Short Description

Dancer, film actor, stage director, and painter Geoffrey Holder (1930 - 2014 ) danced on Broadway, the Metropolitan Opera Ballet, and his own dancing troupe. In addition to his dancing activities, Holder had a prolific career in film, acting, producing, costume designing, and directing.

Employment

Holder Dance Company

Katherine Dunham School of Dance and Theatre

Metropolitan Opera Ballet

Favorite Color

Blue, Orange, Red

Timing Pairs
0,0:12477,87:13296,109:15639,120:38985,528:39775,541:44849,607:49710,675:63702,922:73070,1067$0,0:31010,335:31550,343:32630,358:33170,365:59030,658:60305,719:68880,805:80085,933:80385,938:85780,987:107777,1228:109067,1235
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Geoffrey Holder interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Geoffrey Holder's favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Geoffrey Holder recalls his family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Geoffrey Holder relates how his father and mother met

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Geoffrey Holder describes his parents and siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Geoffrey Holder shares childhood memories

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Geoffrey Holder illustrates the importance of arts to a child's learning process

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Geoffrey Holder recounts his high school experiences

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Geoffrey Holder remembers how he started painting

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Geoffrey Holder recalls his first dance experience

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Geoffrey Holder details the differences in colonial legacy in the Caribbean

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Geoffrey Holder explains the crucial influence of folklore on art

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Geoffrey Holder recounts taking over his brother's dance company

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Geoffrey Holder relates how he broke into the New York theater scene

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Geoffrey Holder illustrates the value of acquiring knowledge

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Geoffrey Holder remembers his production of 'The Wiz'

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Geoffrey Holder recalls his Broadway production of 'The Wiz'

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Geoffrey Holder explains the role of the costume designer

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Geoffrey Holder recounts how he lost his stammer

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Geoffrey Holder reflects on his singing

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Geoffrey Holder shares his philosophy on combatting fear

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Geoffrey Holder expounds on the significance of art and cultural expression

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Geoffrey Holder discusses the value of learning black history before slavery

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Geoffrey Holder remembers inspirational performers

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Geoffrey Holder shares insights on parenting

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Geoffrey Holder discusses his recent projects

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Geoffrey Holder discusses his TV and film career

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Geoffrey Holder considers his legacy

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$3

DAStory

1$4

DATitle
Geoffrey Holder recalls his Broadway production of 'The Wiz'
Geoffrey Holder reflects on his singing
Transcript
'The Wiz' was a marvelous experience for me, 'The Wiz,' because it gave me a marvelous opportunity for me to create and direct and use all the knowledge that I know in theater and da, da, da, da, da, because I'm really a painter who directs, who choreographs, and all of the arts are very important. They're all married because when you do a Broadway show, you have to get a choreographer, you have to get a director, you have a costume designer, you have to get a da da da. If you get all of it, then you get one great thought based on one idea. You know what I mean? So 'The Wiz' was that. I always liked that. Then I did 'Timbuktu!,' with Eartha Kitt. Of course I did the costumes, choreography, and directed. So I didn't have to argue with myself because many times the director argues with the choreographer and the choreographer argues with his costume designer and you can't afford to argue with too many, too much money up, and you're arguing on the union time and there will be actors waiting, you know? So 'The Wiz' was great for that, and 'Timbuktu!' and--$And what about singing? Now you have such a deep--$$"My romance doesn't have to have a moon in the skies/My romance doesn't need a blue lagoon standing by/No month of May/No twinkling stars. No hideaway/No soft guitars/My romance doesn't need a castle rising in Spain, nor a dance to the constantly surprising refrain/Wide awake I can make my most fantastic dreams come true/My romance doesn't need a thing but you." It's automatic.$$So when did you start to sing? I mean (inaudible) talent.$$No, it's not a talent. If you could speak you could sing because it take the lyrics. If you have a timbre, which I had, that's one thing that's moving a chord. But growing up hearing music--again, the piano in the house, the music and that--and I write music, you know. I do all that. I compose to the ballads that I do, and then you take the lyrics and find the essence of what that man is trying to say and sing with your heart. I only sing songs that I know I could have a good time with, with the words I sing, so. I don't have to sing like this to prove that I have a note and I could sing opera. But I'd much rather sing and seduce. It's all seduction. So when I get a compliment on my voice, I do that [pats self on head] to myself.

Ossie Davis

Writer, director, actor, and producer Ossie Davis has established a phenomenal career, remaining throughout, a strong voice for artists' rights, human dignity, and social justice.

Ossie Davis was born on December 18, 1917, in Cogdell, Georgia, to loving parents and a supportive extended family. Graduating in the top five percent of his class with an already burgeoning interest in theater, Davis had to earn enough money before venturing on to college. A year after graduation, with his savings in tow, Davis hitchhiked from Georgia to Washington, D.C., to live with his aunts. There, he received the National Youth Administration scholarship and enrolled at Howard University in the fall of 1935.

At Howard University, Davis would find a nurturing environment to cultivate both his ideas and his talents. Impatient to try his luck on the actual stage, Davis left Howard University for New York City. It was in Harlem in 1939 that he became involved with the Rose McClendon Players.

Davis made his Broadway debut in 1946 in Jeb, where he met his wife and fellow actress, Ruby Dee. Davis went on to perform in many Broadway productions, including Anna Lucasta, The Wisteria Trees, Green Pastures, Jamaica, Ballad for Bimshire, A Raisin in the Sun, The Zulu and the Zayda, and the stage version of I'm Not Rappaport. In 1961, he wrote and starred in the critically acclaimed Purlie Victorious. Davis was inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame in 1994.

Davis has written and directed numerous films, including Cotton Comes to Harlem and Countdown at Kusini (co-produced with his wife), the first American feature film shot entirely in Africa by Black professionals. He most recently appeared in the films Dr. Dolittle, Get on the Bus, and I'm Not Rappaport.

Davis was a leading activist in the civil rights era of the 1960s. He joined Martin Luther King, Jr., in the crusade for jobs and freedom and to help raise money for the Freedom Riders. He eulogized both Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X at their funerals. He remains an activist today.

Davis has received innumerable honors and citations, including the Hall of Fame Award for Outstanding Artistic Achievement in 1989; the U.S. National Medal for the Arts in 1995; the New York Urban League Frederick Douglas Award; NAACP Image Award; and the Screen Actor's Guild Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001. He has enjoyed a long and luminous career in entertainment along with his wife and fellow performer, stage and screen collaborator, and political activist, Ruby Dee. They have recently published a joint autobiography, With Ossie and Ruby: In This Life Together.

Accession Number

A2001.026

Sex

Male

Interview Date

3/9/2001

Last Name

Davis

Marital Status

Married

Organizations
Search Occupation Category
First Name

Ossie

Birth City, State, Country

Cogdell

HM ID

DAV01

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Georgia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Barbados

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

12/18/1917

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chicken

Death Date

2/4/2005

Short Description

Film director, screenwriter, stage actor, and film actor Ossie Davis (1917 - 2005 ) established a phenomenal career, remaining throughout, a strong voice for artists' rights, human dignity, and social justice. Davis appeared in countless theatrical performances and feature length films and was inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame in 1994. Davis has written and directed numerous films, including 'Cotton Comes to Harlem' and 'Countdown at Kusini.' Davis was a passionate activist throughout his life, and had the honor to eulogized both Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X at their funerals.

Favorite Color

Purple

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Ossie Davis interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Ossie Davis's favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Ossie Davis describes his childhood personality

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Ossie Davis gives recollections about his father's personality and his mother's sewing skills

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Ossie Davis describes the neighborhood of his youth

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Ossie Davis talks about his religious and formal educations

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Ossie Davis recalls a racist incident from his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Ossie Davis recalls his high school experiences

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Ossie Davis details his father's career aspirations

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Ossie Davis talks about his decision ot attend Howard University

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Ossie Davis discusses his mentor Alain LeRoy Locke and his decision to become an actor

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Ossie Davis recalls his first forays into political activism

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Ossie Davis talks about his depression and the events following World War II

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Ossie Davis talks about his courtship and marriage of Ruby Dee

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Ossie Davis talks about the early years of his marriage and surviving McCarthyism

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Ossie Davis discusses his developing worldview in relation to his writing

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Ossie Davis gives his views on youth, creativity and his future

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Ossie Davis is uncomfortable with the idea of 'legacy' and urges people to focus on the future

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Ossie Davis ponders his hopes for the black community

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$2

DAStory

7$4

DATitle
Ossie Davis recalls a racist incident from his childhood
Ossie Davis discusses his mentor Alain LeRoy Locke and his decision to become an actor
Transcript
Now, Waycross [Georgia] had the advantage of this black enclave--segregated, but black--and we saw ourselves in positions of authority--black preachers, black teachers, black people in the barbershop, black doctor, black dentist--but we were surrounded by a hostile world, part of which was the Ku Klux Klan, and there was always the threat that something dire might happen or something--some animosity might break loose and endanger us in the community. And a large part of my own culture--and this I wasn't aware of at the time--a large part of my own culture was not tainted but sort of geared to protect me from the areas where I might inadvertently do something or say something that could get me hurt--how to behave in the presence of white people, and for the black boys particularly, how to relate to the white female--and we were sort of taught this and it was sort of a part of who we were and what we had to absorb. I remember when I was about five or six, coming home from school. I had maybe a couple of books with me. We didn't have book bags in those days, and two policemen in a car drove up, stopped. "Come here, boy." I turned and went to them. "Get in." I got in the car and they drove me down to the police station, and I got out of the car and went in with them. They were not threatening, and I wasn't frightened by them, and when we got inside, you know, they were about their business, and there were others, and they acted as if I was just a kid hanging around, and finally they told jokes and I laughed at them, and then one of them took syrup and poured it on my head, and another gave me some peanut brittle and put me on the streets and told me, "Go home now. Don't get into any devilment," and I did. And although I was five or six, I didn't tell my mama [Laura Cooper Davis] or my daddy [Kince Charles Davis]. I knew that something had been done to me that defined me in a way, but I knew not to tell them because if Daddy were angered or if Mama were threatened, what would I do? So I swallowed that, but I always knew that that really was meant to tell me that I was a nigger and that I had a place and that I should keep in that place. As I think back on it, I think it was designed specifically to get my consent to the system of segregation. In other words, they had to ascertain whether I was going to be a good boy or a bad nigger then, and they ascertained it by my response and me being sensitive and likable and happy. I'm sure I laughed when they laughed, and I didn't feel threatened by the whole thing at all, but they had somehow 'niggerized' me, and it lasted for many a year, and I suppose some of the effects of that were still beyond me.$I studied, as I said before, with Dr. Alain LeRoy Locke who was head of the Department of Philosophy [at Howard University, Washington, D.C.]. Locke was the first black Rhodes Scholar ever (with emphasis), and he had discovered some people like Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, and whatnot, and was interested in the students and what their ambitions were and where they were going. I passed one of his examinations, and evidently he was impressed by what he saw on the paper and invited me to his office, sat me down, said, "Young man, what are you going to do with yourself?" I told him I wanted to be a writer. He said, "Writer? Write what?" "I want to write plays." He was slightly taken aback. He said, "Where are you from?" He'd already heard the big-foot country accent in my voice. I said, "I'm from Waycross, Georgia." "I don't mean Waycr--yeah, Waycross, but where?" I said, "That's the name of the town." He said, "You want to write, you say?" "Yes." "Write plays for the theater?" I said, "Oh, yes." "Have you ever been in the theater?" "Oh, yeah. Every Saturday night in Waycross we used to go to see the cowboy pictures." "No, no, no, no. Live people up on the stage?" And I said, "Well, I did go to the Howard Theater [Washington, D.C.], and I saw Billie Holiday and Ethel Waters." He said, "No, that's still not it. Actors in a play up on stage. You never saw?" I said, "No, sir." "You're gonna write plays and you never even saw one play?" I said, "Yes, sir." He said, "Well, I tell you what you do. When you finish here, you go to New York where the theater is. Go to Harlem [New York], and there's a little theater group there called the Rose McClendon Players. You tell them I sent you. Ask them to let you join. If they let you join, then join the company, and once you join, you do everything that's possible for you to do--act, sing, dance, build scenery, paint sets, hustle lemonade, push programs--whatever." And this to me was such wisdom. I mean, this was what I had really come to college to find out so once he told me that, I had what I came so I didn't bother to stay to graduate. I decided to go to New York and find this little place. There was--our plan was--my friend and I who decided to go to New York--was to go on April 16th, 1939. It turned out that that was the Sunday Marian Anderson was going to sing at the [Abraham] Lincoln Memorial so we delayed our, delayed our departure for a full week so we could hear Marian Anderson, and standing there listening to that voice and becoming aware of what that voice was doing, reaching inside of me and making me--empowering me, making me bigger and stronger than what I, what I was. It was, it was almost like a religious conversion listening to Marian Anderson. But anyway that next Sunday, my friend and I caught the train from Penn [Pennsylvania] Station in Washington [D.C.] and went on up to Harlem. Now Medas, who as I said was West Indian, had worked out a ploy for my friend and me to survive for awhile. The ploy was this. I was to pretend that I was a West Indian and go into the West Indian community with this letter from Eldon, and if I were accepted, they would find me a job and do all those things so I took Eldon's letter, went to Harlem, found the people to whom he had written the letter, went to them. They found me a place to stay and ultimately found me a job in the garment center, and I got to Harlem Sunday, April 23rd, I think it was, and Monday the 24th, I found the Rose McClendon Players. It was situated at the 124th Street [public] library in the basement. I walked in the door, entered the theater, and I suppose that was the end of my search. I had found the place that was gonna be my home, my career, and everything--Rose McClendon Players.