The Nation’s Largest African American Video Oral History Collection Mobile search icon Mobile close search icon
Advanced Biography Search
Mobile navigation icon Close mobile navigation icon

Bill Overton

Actor Bill Overton was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and was raised by his mother and stepfather, Hessie and Eugene Waterhouse. As a child, Overton attended Boston’s Asa Gray Elementary, W.L.P. Boardman Elementary, Henry L. Higginson Elementary and Lewis Junior High Schools. As an adolescent, Overton was a premiere athlete and member of his school’s football and basketball teams. He attended the historical Boston English High School where he was voted vice president of his senior class.

Overton went on to attend one of Nebraska’s junior colleges and established himself as one his era’s phenomenal football players. His display of athletic talent at the junior college level earned him a full scholarship to attend Wake Forest University. Overton graduated in 1968 as a speech and drama major, and that same year, he was drafted by the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys. In 1969, he was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs and the following year, he began playing for the Canadian Football League. Then, in 1970, Overton moved back to Boston and worked as a sports agent for Pro Sports, Inc. While there, he was instrumental in the company’s signing of four-time Pro Bowler Raymond Chester, and worked to ensure fair contracts for African American football players.

In 1971, Overton began a career in modeling and was hired for various advertising agencies including Black Beauty and Ford modeling agencies. He helped to launch ad campaigns for Hanes, Benson and Hedges, Canadian Mist, Sears, and Montgomery Ward. During the 1970s, Overton also began appearing in television commercials. He honed his acting skills by enrolling at the Lee Strasberg Institute in New York City and was mentored by actor Woody Strode. Overton starred in several films throughout the mid-1970s, often appearing in roles that required him to demonstrate his athleticism. He was featured in episodes of the New Perry Mason series, Firehouse and the films Cover Girl and Invisible Strangler. Then, in 1981, he starred alongside Harry Belafonte and LeVar Burton in the film Grambling’s White Tigers.

Overton married award winning actress Jayne Kennedy in 1985. He continued to make television appearances throughout the 1980s and 1990s, starring in classic sitcoms such as The Red Foxx Show, 227, and The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.

In 2002, Overton published The Media: Shaping an Image of a People. He lives in Los Angeles, California with his wife and three daughters.

Accession Number

A2008.073

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/4/2008

Last Name

Overton

Maker Category
Schools

English High School

Asa Gray School

W.L.P. Boardman Elementary

Henry Lee Higginson Elementary School

George A. Lewis Middle School

Higginson-Lewis K-8 School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Bill

Birth City, State, Country

Boston

HM ID

OVE01

Favorite Season

All Seasons

State

Massachusetts

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

If You Didn't Know How Old You Was, How Old Would You Be?

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

2/26/1947

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Soul Food

Short Description

Television actor and football player Bill Overton (1947 - ) played in the NFL and Canadian Football League before turning to modeling and acting. His television credits include roles on 'The Redd Foxx Show,' '227' and 'The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.'

Employment

Dallas Cowboys

Kansas City Chiefs

Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Ford Modeling Agency

Various

Favorite Color

None

Timing Pairs
0,0:8848,214:26490,441:26890,447:50660,859:51104,866:54360,939:57912,1010:63654,1091:91631,1648:103280,1762:103660,1769:108672,1860:111114,1972:112002,1987:115332,2067:131196,2339:138096,2597:138640,2612:139048,2619:145042,2692:150983,2865:152803,2898:159537,3013:164794,3076:167202,3107:173760,3279$0,0:5695,131:26240,420:41040,635:44736,693:45660,705:56300,879:60269,985:61437,1011:64649,1098:65014,1104:65452,1111:66401,1136:79638,1364:85336,1486:85644,1491:97152,1673:113430,1932:113790,1938:116166,1996:122560,2175:122860,2207:125110,2255:131450,2389:152795,2705:156925,2748:157225,2934:186922,3393:196539,3497:207860,3704:208490,3725:220285,3873:224494,3903:255328,4425:255696,4430:271082,4708:281252,4849:294742,5086:305499,5315:314940,5433
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Bill Overton's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Bill Overton lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Bill Overton describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Bill Overton describes his parents' personalities

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Bill Overton describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Bill Overton describes his home life

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Bill Overton remembers his early education

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Bill Overton remembers his community in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Bill Overton remembers Lewis Junior High School in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Bill Overton recalls enrolling at the English High School in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Bill Overton recalls his experiences the English High School

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Bill Overton describes his activities at the English High School

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Bill Overton remembers his football scholarship to McCook Community College in McCook, Nebraska

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Bill Overton describes his first impressions of McCook Junior College

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Bill Overton describes his experiences at McCook Junior College

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Bill Overton recalls transferring to Wake Forest College in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Bill Overton remembers his experiences at Wake Forest College

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Bill Overton talks about 'Guess Who's Coming to Dinner'

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Bill Overton talks about black athletes at Wake Forest College

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Bill Overton remembers dating at Wake Forest College

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Bill Overton talks about interracial relationships among celebrities

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Bill Overton remembers joining the Dallas Cowboys

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Bill Overton describes racial discrimination in the National Football League

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Bill Overton talks about the role of race in college basketball

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Bill Overton recalls playing for the Dallas Cowboys

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Bill Overton recalls playing for the Kansas City Chiefs

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Bill Overton recalls joining the Canadian Football League

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Bill Overton remembers his decision to quit professional football

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Bill Overton describes his career after leaving professional football

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Bill Overton remembers his modeling career

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Bill Overton remembers his decision to pursue acting as a career

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Bill Overton describes his acting career

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Bill Overton talks about his marriages

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Bill Overton recalls his colleagues in the entertainment industry

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Bill Overton talks about his success in the entertainment industry

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Bill Overton describes his marriage to Jayne Kennedy

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Bill Overton talks about his family

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Bill Overton describes his career as a real estate developer and author

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Bill Overton describes his book, 'The Media: Shaping the Image of a People'

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Bill Overton reflects upon the mass media

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Bill Overton reflects upon the impact of stereotyping

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Bill Overton shares his advice to future generations

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Bill Overton talks about African Americans in the entertainment industry

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Bill Overton describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Bill Overton describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Bill Overton reflects upon his legacy

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$5

DAStory

7$6

DATitle
Bill Overton recalls playing for the Dallas Cowboys
Bill Overton describes his book, 'The Media: Shaping the Image of a People'
Transcript
So, now you get drafted by Dallas [Dallas Cowboys] in what position?$$Linebacker.$$Okay, so you go to Dallas, tell us about that experience?$$(Laughter) It was an interesting experience, not necessarily positive. Which is something I don't even want--let me just say this. I--Dallas was a great team, it was an honor for me to go. I was excited because they had a very tough reputation. Gil Brandt was the--this hall of fame, one of the great minds of--in terms of recruiting and drafting and all of putting teams together. And it was an honor for me to go. And my training camp, I mean, all my--all of it was positive for me but at the same time what sticks out with me, and it shows you a lot, 'cause I've got an interesting quote in my book about Tom Landry. And he's renowned for it's either his way or the highway. Not you got to understand, I'm coming from Boston, Massachusetts, having gone to Nebraska to North Carolina to Texas.$$So you're playing under Tom Landry?$$Oh, yeah. Then it wasn't that long. Now, I come in what--part of--some of my time in training camp I can remember one particular meeting, I'm sitting beside Pete Gent [Peter Gent]. Pete Gent, 'North Dallas Forty,' renowned author, et cetera, et cetera, turned into a movie, all that stuff. Pete's sitting right here, I got a dashiki on, big afro and--$$Is this in the club room or--$$Yeah, I forgot what it was, team meeting or something like that. Linebacker, 'cause the linebackers and the ends--I forgot exactly--I know he was there, I just don't remember what else was happening. He said to me, "You know, Tom ain't gonna like that, you need to--what is that?" And it was really condescending.$$Your outfit?$$What I had on. And I had--I can remember it was burgundy with a yellow, mustard colored belt, with a mustard colored border. It was a dashiki. And I had just, you know, I'd come from Wake Forest [Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina]. I mean, I'd purchased this shirt from some women, you know, the civil rights era, and people were becoming Afrocentric all of that (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Had your fro on.$$Oh, man, and, I mean, they talk about Hollywood Henderson [Thomas Henderson], I was crazy, you know what I mean. I knew I came to play and I'm making the team and that, end of story. When he said that to me, it was an insult to me. I said, "I don't care about what he thinks, I don't care about what you think." Hey, I didn't like him, I tried to whip his ass every time I could as an end 'cause I'm a linebacker. But he took--we're about sports. It should all, it should just been about sports. He's now messing with my, with my--$$Your whole racial consciousness (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Oh, yeah, with who I was as a man. So, I didn't fit in with the Cowboys so I ended--that's why I ended up leaving, got released, went to Oklahoma. You know, the farm, what they call their farm team there.$$Farm team for the Cowboys?$$Cowboys.$$Okay.$$Played there a season, did pretty well, and went back--I don't know if I went back home, or went back to New York. I just forgot exactly where I went. No, sorry, excuse me, no when the season was over I went back to Wake Forest (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) A lot--okay.$$Okay.$Through the '80s [1980s] you start doing real estate development and different things into the '90s [1990s] and up 'til now. Talk about the book that you've authored, what is the title of the book and what is the thrust behind the book?$$Well, thanks for the question. The answer to your question is the book is entitled 'The Media: Shaping the Image of a People' [Bill Overton]. And, the book came from--I over--all this time I'm--as an athlete, I started in New York [New York] going back and forth from Boston [Massachusetts] to New York I stumbled on--in an antique shop, I stumbled on some old pictures and some old newspapers from the 19th century. And it blew my mind because I saw pictures of blacks, Irish, Jews, Mormon, Chinese, Native Americans. Folk that I knew but didn't know much about their history. Some of these pictures represented my classmates in high school [English High School, Boston, Massachusetts], and we never studied--the stuff that I saw, I didn't know anything about and I questioned if they knew anything about it, 'cause they never said anything to me about Irish potato famine, you know, or the Holocaust or a lot of these things. Okay, so I--this sort of became a passion and an interest. I say, I'm gonna have a big house one day, I'll take these pictures, I'll put 'em in frames on the wall. So, as I'm moving around five years, ten years, fifteen years, I'm buying pictures, putting em in storage in Boston, Maine, you know, California. Fast forward, I see life changing in front of me. I decide, as a project at Santa Monica College [Santa Monica, California], to take--to do something for kids 'cause it's a very diverse school. I took the pictures out and had them--had some copies and put 'em in a gallery. And the school flipped out. And I went, wow, I'm really on to something. So, I got a bunch of notes, comments in a book. I put it away, put the collection away. Two years later, I'm doing something--it's 1997, doing something at UCLA [University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California]. Mentoring students, doing whatever. And I say, well, you know, I got this collection and maybe this could work. So I brought it--brought some of the pictures, and they said, "Well, the only way we could do this at the museum here is you got to have it researched." So they assigned five historians from UCLA to do the research on my collection. And it was fascinating what they did. And so they basically established the connectivity between the 19th century and present day. And that time was 1997. So then I took the exhibit to Martha's Vineyard [Massachusetts] 'cause after I had showed it here for a month, I wanted to get an international feel, an international sense from people, travelers, what they thought about something like this. So I was at Union Chapel [Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts] on Martha's Vineyard and I had the exhibit there for a month. People flipped out, from all over the place.$$Now, how large is the exhibit?$$It's--I had sixty pictures. The pictures are 11" by 14", and some are 16" by 20". So there's sixty individual pictures with display panels that are 3' by 5'.$$Okay.$$And so, the reaction to that was great. I come back and many people said, "You know, we wanna buy something. You're not selling anything, you got to do something." So, I ended up talking to a publisher who was gracious enough to join me, write the check to get the book done. And he got his money back relatively quickly. The--I didn't have to--I didn't travel that much. And some things happened within the company that I didn't like, and some things that I thought should have happened didn't happen. So, I mean, I sold half, you know, half the inventory and the bottom line was I said, let me just--here's what I'm gonna do, 'cause I been--and on a daily basis I'm becoming more and more obsessed with the media, with what they're doing and what they're not doing. 'Cause I'm a bookworm and newspaper worm, and magazine worm. So, make a long story short, I ended up buying the rights back, so this book then and--'cause what it is--and I missed a key ingredient. The book is my collection, and then out of respect for you and Neculai [Neculai Burghelea], and Julieanna [Julieanna Richardson], I reached out to image makers of present day. The sculptors, the painters, the--this is a tribute to Daniel Pearl, the photographers, the last quarter of the book is their work. So people like [HistoryMaker] Lamonte McLemore who was renowned for taking beautiful pictures of women.$$He's a HistoryMaker (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) And the Jet magazine where David Kibuuka from Uganda, but lives in Toronto [Canada], spectacular, you know, paint, Jameel Rasheed, guy I grew up with who was like flesh and blood to me. I had no idea he was an artist when we were growing up. He did the picture of Rosa Parks, which they're trying to get--use as a stamp. So I--not only do I have four--three of my homeboys and home girls, let's see, Jameel Rasheed, Hakim Rakib [ph.], Artis Graham [ph.] did a picture of President Clinton [President William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton] in the book. And then Gale, Gale Fulton Ross is a phenomenal artist, lives in Florida now. She did the picture of Du Bois [W.E.B. Du Bois] in my book as well. So this is a celebration of what the media does, what they can do, what they have done, and what they might do.

Malcolm-Jamal Warner

Television actor and television director Malcolm-Jamal Warner was born on August 18, 1970 in Jersey City, New Jersey. Warner was raised by his mother, Pamela Warner, in California where he became interested in acting at the age of nine. He attended Angelus Mesa Elementary School in Los Angeles, California and he graduated from the Professional Children’s School in New York City in 1988.

In 1982, Warner was cast as Johnny Randolph on an episode of Matt Houston, and in 1983 he was cast as Lucas Boyd on an episode of Fame entitled Ending on a High Note. In 1984, Warner was cast as Theodore Huxtable on The Cosby Show . In addition to being nominated for a prime-time Emmy Award for best supporting actor in a comedy series, Warner also won two Young Actor Awards for his role as Theodore Huxtable. He also provided the soundtrack for the 1986 season and directed five episodes of The Cosby Show, including the reunion show. Throughout the 1980s, Warner appeared in several television series and television specials including an ABC afterschool special entitled A Desperate Exit and The Father Clements Story In 1989, he authored Theo and Me Get into The Groove. Warner continued to work in television and film during the 1990s as a producer and director. He directed music videos for the R&B group, New Edition. During 1992, he directed a documentary entitled The Truth About You and Me and AIDS. The same year, Warner starred in his own sitcom entitled Here and Now. He appeared in the HBO films The Tuskegee Airmen as well as Tyson, and the feature film Drop Zone with Wesley Snipes. Warner also produced an animated educational series entitled The Magic School Bus. From 1996 through 2000, Warner co-starred as Malcolm McGhee on the sitcom, Malcolm & Eddie. He directed over a dozen episodes and served as show supervisor in 1997.

From 2002-2006 Warner was cast in various television productions including Lyric Café, HBO’s Def Poetry Jam ,Jeremiah and Dexter. In 2007, Warner showcased his musical and spoken word talents by releasing his debut EP The Miles Long Mixtape.

Malcolm-Jamal Warner was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 2, 2008.

Accession Number

A2008.070

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/2/2008

Last Name

Warner

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

Angeles Mesa Elementary School

Hillcrest Drive Elementary School

Coliseum Street Elementary School

Paul Revere Charter Middle School

Professional Children's School

First Name

Malcolm-Jamal

Birth City, State, Country

Jersey City

HM ID

WAR12

Favorite Season

Summer

State

New Jersey

Favorite Vacation Destination

Jamaica

Favorite Quote

My Word Is My Bond; Integrity Is All You Have.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

8/18/1970

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Pizza

Short Description

Television actor and television director Malcolm-Jamal Warner (1970 - ) was best known for his role as Theodore Huxtable on "The Cosby Show," which earned him a nomination for a Primetime Emmy Award. His other television and film credits included, "The Father Clements Story," "The Tuskegee Airmen," "Drop Zone" and "Malcolm & Eddie." Warner was also a spoken word artist and musician with his group Miles Long.

Employment

NBC

Miles Long

UPN

Favorite Color

Blue

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Malcolm-Jamal Warner's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Malcolm-Jamal Warner lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Malcolm-Jamal Warner describes his mother's personality

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Malcolm-Jamal Warner remembers his father's personality

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Malcolm-Jamal Warner describes his grandmothers

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Malcolm-Jamal Warner remembers his grandfathers

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Malcolm-Jamal Warner describes how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Malcolm-Jamal Warner talks about his extended family

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Malcolm-Jamal Warner describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Malcolm-Jamal Warner describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Malcolm-Jamal Warner recalls moving to Los Angeles, California

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Malcolm-Jamal Warner remembers his home in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Malcolm-Jamal Warner describes Angeles Mesa Elementary School in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Malcolm-Jamal Warner remembers his neighbors in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Malcolm-Jamal Warner talks about moving to the Baldwin Village neighborhood of Los Angeles, California

Tape: 1 Story: 16 - Malcolm-Jamal Warner recalls his early influences

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Malcolm-Jamal Warner recalls his busing experience at Coliseum Street Elementary School in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Malcolm-Jamal Warner talks about his early interest in acting

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Malcolm-Jamal Warner recalls his acting experiences at the Inglewood Playhouse in Inglewood, California

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Malcolm-Jamal Warner remembers his high school experiences

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Malcolm-Jamal Warner describes the challenges he faced as a child star

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Malcolm-Jamal Warner talks about auditioning for 'The Cosby Show'

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Malcolm-Jamal Warner recalls his screen test for 'The Cosby Show'

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Malcolm-Jamal Warner describes his mother's home cooking business

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Malcolm-Jamal Warner recalls his move to New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Malcolm-Jamal Warner talks about enrolling at the Professional Children's School in New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Malcolm-Jamal Warner remembers filming the pilot for 'The Cosby Show'

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Malcolm-Jamal Warner describes Bill Cosby's vision for 'The Cosby Show'

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Malcolm-Jamal Warner talks about his relationship with his co-stars on 'The Cosby Show'

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Malcolm-Jamal Warner recalls Bill Cosby's influence on 'The Cosby Show'

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Malcolm-Jamal Warner remembers his relationship with his mother as a teenager

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Malcolm-Jamal Warner describes the addition of Sabrina Le Beauf to 'The Cosby Show'

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Malcolm-Jamal Warner describes Raven-Symone's debut on 'The Cosby Show'

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Malcolm-Jamal Warner talks about the famous guest stars on 'The Cosby Show'

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Malcolm-Jamal Warner recalls changes in the later seasons of 'The Cosby Show'

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Malcolm-Jamal Warner remembers his mother's role as his manager

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Malcolm-Jamal Warner talks about the differences between actors on the East Coast and West Coast

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Malcolm-Jamal Warner remembers the final season of 'The Cosby Show'

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Malcolm-Jamal Warner describes 'A Different World'

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Malcolm-Jamal Warner talks about the television show 'Here and Now'

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Malcolm-Jamal Warner remembers the death of Ennis Cosby

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Malcolm-Jamal Warner talks about his film career

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Malcolm-Jamal Warner describes the quality of black sitcoms

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Malcolm-Jamal Warner remembers starring on 'Malcolm and Eddie'

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Malcolm-Jamal Warner describes the start of his music career

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Malcolm-Jamal Warner talks about his plans for the future

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Malcolm-Jamal Warner reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Malcolm-Jamal Warner shares his advice to aspiring artists

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Malcolm-Jamal Warner describes his hopes for the African American community

Charles F. Johnson

Charles Floyd Johnson was born in Camden, New Jersey, to Bertha Ellen Seagers, a teacher, and Orange Maull Johnson, who went off to fight in World War II shortly before Johnson was born and returned to tell his son stories of the Tuskegee Airmen, although he himself was in the American cavalry in North Africa. Johnson's family initially encouraged him to be a lawyer; in order to give him the best possible educational preparation he was sent to Stony Brook in 1956 where he became the second African American student to attend the prestigious school. Johnson was an ambitious student, and was accepted at both Howard and Brown Universities after his graduation from Stony Brook.

In 1958, Johnson began attending Howard University alongside some well-known classmates that included Stokely Carmichael. Johnson worked in New York during the summers as a teacher for young children. During the Civil Rights Movement, Johnson was active in marches; he majored in political science, minored in history and education, and worked at the Library of Congress. Johnson was also involved in John F. Kennedy's presidential campaign, and was even invited to Kennedy's inauguration. Despite his political aspirations, Johnson demonstrated a growing interest in communications, and joined the Howard Players upon arriving at Howard; he graduated with honors from the school in 1962.

That same year, though drawn to the New York theater world, Johnson was accepted to and enrolled in Howard University Law School with a full scholarship. While at law school, Johnson was published in the Howard Law Journal, and flourished under professors Herbert Reed and Patricia Harris. Shortly after taking the bar exam, Johnson was drafted during the Vietnam War; soon after, he married his girlfriend at the time, was sent to work as a clerk in New Jersey, and then shifted to work as a defense counsel largely for AWOL soldiers, for which he received an Army Commendation Medal.

After leaving the military, Johnson moved to Washington, D.C., where he worked as a copyright lawyer for three years; his work schedule allowed him to work in theatrical companies and study communications in his free time. Johnson also did some work in television for a show entitled Harambee and worked for Howard University's radio station. At the end of his tenure with the copyright office, Johnson worked with a justice from Sweden, who invited him to work as a law intern in Stockholm. After working in Stockholm, Johnson almost took a job working in France, but changed his mind to follow his dreams and move to Los Angeles in early 1971.

With the aid of the G.I. Bill, Johnson applied to and attended the Professional Theater Workshop in Santa Monica, California, where he took acting classes for nine months. Thanks to his law degree, Johnson found an entry-level position at Universal Studios working in the mail room; two days after his mailroom experience began, a new job opened up, and Johnson began his climb to the top of the ladder, becoming a production coordinator in late 1971.

In 1981, Johnson moved to Hawaii, where he married his second wife, who stayed in Los Angeles. Johnson’s career in Hollywood was accomplished and diverse; it included roles in such television programs as JAG and Navy: NCIS. Johnson also worked as a writer and producer in a wide variety of television programs, which included working as a prominent figure behind the notable television programs The Rockford Files and Magnum, P.I.

Accession Number

A2005.239

Sex

Male

Interview Date

10/8/2005

Last Name

Johnson

Maker Category
Middle Name

Floyd

Organizations
Schools

Howard University School of Law

Howard University

First Name

Charles

Birth City, State, Country

Camden

HM ID

JOH24

Favorite Season

Spring

State

New Jersey

Favorite Vacation Destination

Southern France

Favorite Quote

That's The Way Life Goes.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

2/12/1942

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Mashed Potatoes

Short Description

Television actor and television producer Charles F. Johnson (1942 - ) produced the hit television series, Magnum, P.I., in addition to enjoying a successful acting career.

Employment

Universal Studios Hollywood

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:4278,138:14392,306:19852,465:24388,536:25312,553:36588,680:37347,697:38175,722:40797,834:46041,1039:48939,1149:49215,1157:51423,1219:63042,1364:66030,1431:69586,1467:76858,1609:77290,1616:79090,1662:80170,1684:84346,1877:100130,2057:106408,2207:109848,2293:117069,2339:122915,2474:130892,2581:131552,2593:135220,2624:139552,2685:142820,2758:143732,2772:145860,2819:149204,2880:155512,3019:162970,3173:166675,3277:166935,3282:167975,3315:169925,3371:170640,3385:171680,3412:172265,3422:174150,3478:179982,3537:180218,3542:181044,3561:182106,3599:182991,3615:183640,3627:188360,3750:189776,3793:191074,3826:191428,3834:191664,3839:201850,3981:202114,3986:206932,4115:207526,4126:207856,4132:209572,4166:209836,4171:215000,4259$0,0:2368,45:2738,51:6960,92:7288,97:7862,105:11798,165:12782,180:13110,185:13520,191:17702,271:18358,303:21474,352:21966,359:31490,477:32050,488:32820,503:38000,623:39960,674:40590,684:41360,698:43530,735:51504,847:52035,857:55634,945:56401,960:57286,979:58053,992:58525,1002:58938,1011:59941,1033:60531,1045:61475,1072:62124,1097:62419,1103:63127,1114:63599,1124:70856,1338:78350,1393:78842,1400:79990,1416:80318,1422:81712,1450:87380,1530:87758,1537:88388,1558:94562,1724:95444,1743:100526,1792:101362,1814:101970,1822:102578,1845:103338,1856:104478,1877:104934,1907:107746,1970:115650,2158:120611,2177:121241,2188:123824,2258:129557,2396:129872,2427:137558,2621:138818,2657:140141,2698:151064,2827:151724,2848:153110,2881:154958,2930:155420,2939:155684,2944:157268,2982:159710,3050:166161,3110:166697,3119:167032,3125:170181,3166:174335,3261:175407,3282:176680,3316:181470,3397
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Charles F. Johnson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Charles F. Johnson lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Charles F. Johnson describes his mother's side of the family, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Charles F. Johnson describes his mother's side of the family, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Charles F. Johnson describes his family's emphasis on education

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Charles F. Johnson describes his community in Middletown, Delaware, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Charles F. Johnson describes his mother's education and how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Charles F. Johnson describes his father's side of the family, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Charles F. Johnson describes his father's side of the family, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Charles F. Johnson describes his parents' relationship

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Charles F. Johnson describes his father's time in the U.S. Cavalry during WWII

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Charles F. Johnson recalls learning about the Tuskegee Airmen

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Charles F. Johnson describes his community in Middletown, Delaware, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Charles F. Johnson describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Charles F. Johnson remembers segregation in Middletown, Delaware

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Charles F. Johnson describes his favorite classmate and teacher

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Charles F. Johnson describes his high school years in Middletown, Delaware

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Charles F. Johnson describes attending The Stony Brook School in Long Island, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Charles F. Johnson remembers deciding to attend Howard University

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Charles F. Johnson recalls his experience at Howard University

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Charles F. Johnson describes his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Charles F. Johnson describes his work in Washington, D.C. during college

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Charles F. Johnson recalls developing his interest in theater

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Charles F. Johnson remembers the Howard University School of Law, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Charles F. Johnson remembers the Howard University School of Law, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Charles F. Johnson recalls his time in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Charles F. Johnson recalls his foray into theater in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Charles F. Johnson recalls traveling to Sweden and France

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Charles F. Johnson remembers studying acting in California

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Charles F. Johnson recalls becoming production coordinator at Universal Studios

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Charles F. Johnson describes his role as production coordinator at Universal Studios

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Charles F. Johnson describes his early career as a producer

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Charles F. Johnson describes joining the production team for 'Magnum P.I.'

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Charles F. Johnson describes producing 'Magnum P.I.'

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Charles F. Johnson describes the role of an executive producer

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Charles F. Johnson describes his support for African Americans in Hollywood

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Charles F. Johnson describes his relationship with Tom Selleck

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Charles F. Johnson describes his involvement in 'JAG' and his idea for a new project

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Charles F. Johnson describes the movie 'Red Tails'

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Charles F. Johnson describes his wife

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Charles F. Johnson reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Charles F. Johnson describes his idea for a book on African Americans in television

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

11$1

DATitle
Charles F. Johnson describes his early career as a producer
Charles F. Johnson describes producing 'Magnum P.I.'
Transcript
--And I worked with a man named Harve Bennett, who was doing 'Six Million Dollar Man,' that I later was one of--in fact, he offered me my first job as--to move out of that department as an associate producer on '[The] Six Million Dollar Man.'$$Wow!$$But I had worked for Stephen [J.] Cannell, who was--his first major job as a producer was 'Toma,' and I was the production coordinator. So by 1974, when Harve offered me a chance, Stephen Cannell also offered me a chance to be an associate producer on 'The Rockford Files.'$$Wow!$$And because I had an association with Stephen for--since '71 [1971] in 'Toma,' I decided to go with Stephen, Anita Rosenberg and James Garner. And that's how I got started on 'The Rockford Files' as an associate producer. And, and I remember I was still thinking (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Was that your first associate producing--$$Yes, and I was, actually, I'd been at Universal [Universal Studios; Universal Studios Hollywood, Universal City, California], believe it or not, I had actually done, because of my experience since having studied acting, I had done about four or five guest shots with probably four or five line per--on a show; on, on 'Toma' because I was on that show, 'Six Million Dollar Man'; 'The Rookies' and 'Kojak.'$$Okay.$$And, so I was thinking of maybe leaving and becoming an actor because now I'd made contact and all. But I think sanity kicked in and I don't--I think the, the, the unstableness of acting sort of--so when they offered me the job I thought about it for all of a day. I said, "I can probably always become an actor, I can't always become an associate producer."$$Exactly.$$And that's how I ended up doing that and of course--$$'Rockford Files' was the first--$$--was the first.$$--as an associate producer?$$And I became a producer in '76 [1976].$$Okay.$$Within two years I was a producer on that show. And in '78 [1978] I won my first Emmy [Award]--because we won the Emmy as best dramatic series in '78 [1978] and I was then, by then I was a producer, along with David Chase--$$Right.$$--who later became the, you know, the creator of 'The Sopranos'--$$Right.$$--and Steve Cannell and Anita Rosenberg. And we were the four of us who were--produced the show.$$Now, I notice that you do a lot of the shows that James Garner--$$Right.$$--stars in. Was that because of a personal relationship?$$Well, yes, I'd been friends with him for, since I was an associate producer on 'The Rockford Files.' And he, he's just an incredible man. He's very supportive of his crew and very supportive of his writers and producers. And my association with him started then and then went on when in 1979 when the series ended, he started to do 'Maverick.'$$Right.$$I actually stayed at Universal and produced 'Simon and Simon,' the pilot, another series with Telly Savalas after 'Kojak,' Colchas' [ph.] wife produced. And I did a number of movies a week for them. And then when Garner started to do 'Bret Maverick,' he and Anita Rosenberg, they called me up and said, "You want to come to Warner Brothers [Warner Bros. Entertainment]?" And I'd done the pilot of 'Simon and Simon' and Universal had lost a lot of hours and I wasn't sure they were going to pick me up--my contract up.$$Um-hm.$$So it was very easy for me to know--not knowing that I wasn't going to be there necessarily, to go over there. Also, when you--when I'd been at Universal from '71 [1971], now this is '79 [1979] and when you're working in in-system, your pay is one thing because you've been growing up in that system. And suddenly Warner Brothers offered me a, a substantial increase--$$Um-hm.$$--because I wasn't--and I had an agent who got me a salary. So I--but then my association with Garner continued.$$Right.$$We only did that for a year.$$Okay.$$And I, then I went back to work with him in '94 [1994] when we did eight, I think we did eight 'Rockford Files' movies, it took us two years, we did the movies.$$Um-hm.$$And then again in 2000 [sic. 2002], we did a series called 'First Monday.'$$Right.$$Which I was then with Belisarius Productions. But he became the chief justice and that. So we've had a long association. And Anne [Anne Burford Johnson] and I are very close to he and his family.$Things are looking up for you; you're at the right place, at the right time. Let's--we, we were talking about 'Magnum, P.I.'$$Um-hm.$$And they asked you to stay on until somebody else could come on?$$Right, and, and, and nobody else showed up on the horizon, but in the meantime, I was able to go into that situation and, and one of the things that's always been said about me in terms of the industry is, "Charles [HistoryMaker Charles F. Johnson] is a great diplomat." And there were some (unclear) kind of things going on, warfare going on in the show. And I sort of came in and helped to, to cool the waters. And I think that's why they asked me to stay. But I was petrified because I had been a producer for a few years, but mostly on the Universal [Universal Studios; Universal Studios Hollywood, Universal City, California] lot. In a situation where I was in town--with a cot- with a coterie, or congeries of producers who were all around me--and suddenly I was put into Hawaii, where you were the only producer who was running the show, dealing with all the actors, dealing with the local crews, and having to produce on-location shows. I had never done it. I had no experience doing it. It wasn't like I got there and had training before. It was like you're there.$$But your instincts were good.$$But my instincts were good. My instincts were good and, and I, I, I think I always knew you had to just, when you're thrown in those situations, you know, you just had to go do it. And, and I was able, and I was always good at dealing with people. And I--of course we had Tom Selleck and Roger [E.] Mosley and Larry Manetti and John Hillerman and I, so I had to work with them. And I had to work with the local crew. But I think, you know, a lot of the Hawaiians liked me also because I was an African American. They thought they could relate to me. And I went to the local, local, the local customs, customs and did the local things with the local people because you had to forge that with the community because the show was a very big draw in Honolulu [Hawaii]--because it was, you know, it was, the show was big at the time. Tom was almost the biggest television star for a couple of years in the '80s [1980s]. And you've--that red Ferrari driving around Honolulu. So you had to also do a lot of community, community relations and, and, I did all of those things, both with the show and then ran the show and very successfully, I must say, we were nominated three times for the Emmy [Award]--$$Right.$$--didn't win for that show. We were nominated three times as best drama. And I learned as much as I was, I think good for the show. I also learned an enormous amount because suddenly I was learning to produce something on my own. We shot in London [England], and did a two hour show in London, which I had to go to London and casting and find your crew and put it together and shoot the show. And then the next year I went to Hong Kong to scout the show and we were going to shoot in Hong Kong and at the last minute cost didn't do it. But I, I learned a lot about how to put location shows together and how to go and put, organize that and, and so that was all enormously of value to me. In the meantime also turning out 162 episodes of it, of a series that was--it ran for eight years.$$Wow.$$Yeah.$$Wow.$$So it was a great learning experience for me as well--

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."

Ronald Glass

Actor Ron Glass was born Ronald Earle Glass to Lefia Mae Gibson Glass and Crump Allen Glass on July 10, 1945, in Evansville, Indiana. A spelling bee champion at St. John’s Elementary School, Glass attended St. Francis High School where he excelled at athletics and singing. After graduating in 1964, Glass attended the University of Evansville where he received his B.A. degree in drama and literature.

In 1968, Glass made his stage debut at the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Moving to Hollywood in 1972, Glass got his first television role in an episode of Sanford and Son. Other roles followed in All in the Family (1972); Maude (1972); Hawaii Five-O (1973); Good Times (1974); When Things Were Rotten (1975); and Streets of San Francisco (1976). In 1975, Glass became a regular on the police comedy Barney Miller; he later went on to play Felix in The New Odd Couple (1983). Glass appeared in series as varied as The Twilight Zone (1985); 227 (1985); Deep Space (1987); Family Matters (1989); Murder She Wrote (1984); Friends (1994); Star Trek Voyager (1995); Teen Angel (1997); and The Practice (1997). In 2002, Glass played the role of Shepherd Book in Firefly, which he reprised for Serenity, the 2005 movie based on the show.

Active in the community, Glass served on the boards of the American Repertory Dance Company, the Ka-Ron Lehman Dancers, and St. Thomas University. Glass was also the chairman of the Al Wooten, Jr. Heritage Center in Los Angeles, California.

Glass passed away on November 25, 2016.

Accession Number

A2005.111

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/27/2005

Last Name

Glass

Schools

St. Francis High School

St. John’s Elementary School

University of Evansville

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Ronald

Birth City, State, Country

Evansville

HM ID

GLA02

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Indiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

South Seas

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

7/10/1945

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Grits

Death Date

11/25/2016

Short Description

Stage actor and television actor Ronald Glass (1945 - 2016 ) appeared in numerous television shows, including All in the Family, Maude, Hawaii Five-O, Good Times, Friends, Star Trek Voyager, and Firefly.

Employment

The Guthrie Theatre

Hollywood

Al Wooten, Jr. Heritage Center

Favorite Color

Brown

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Ronald Glass' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Ronald Glass lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Ronald Glass describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Ronald Glass talks about visiting his mother's sister in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Ronald Glass describes his father's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Ronald Glass describes his father's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Ronald Glass recalls visits to his father's family in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Ronald Glass describes his parents' personalities

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Ronald Glass reflects upon his paternal family's sense of pride

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Ronald Glass describes his father's job as a factory worker and their strained relationship

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Ronald Glass talks about his parents' marriage and separation

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Ronald Glass describes his likeness to his parents

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Ronald Glass describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Ronald Glass explains his parents' move from Memphis, Tennessee to Evansville, Indiana

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Ronald Glass describes the projects where his family lived in Evansville, Indiana

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Ronald Glass describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Ronald Glass recalls attending elementary school in Evansville, Indiana

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Ronald Glass describes his elementary school experience in Evansville, Indiana

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Ronald Glass remembers his English class at St. Anthony Catholic School

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Ronald Glass describes his favorite teacher at St. Anthony Catholic School

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Ronald Glass describes his reunion with his favorite teacher in elementary school

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Ronald Glass describes his household as a child and his place in it

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Ronald Glass recalls his introduction to classical music

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Ronald Glass describes how he was perceived in his neighborhood, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Ronald Glass describes how he was perceived in his neighborhood, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Ronald Glass recalls attending St. Anthony Catholic Church in Evansville, Indiana

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Ronald Glass recalls standing up to bullies in his childhood

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Ronald Glass remembers playing sports at St. Francis High School

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Ronald Glass recalls his high school interests in sports and language

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Ronald Glass talks about attending Evansville College in 1964

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Ronald Glass recalls acting in his first play at Evansville College

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Ronald Glass recalls graduating from the University of Evansville in 1968

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Ronald Glass describes his experience at The Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Ronald Glass describes moving to Los Angeles, California in 1972

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Ronald Glass recalls being cast in the television sitcom 'Sanford and Son'

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Ronald Glass describes appearing in the TV sitcoms 'All in the Family' and 'Barney Miller'

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Ronald Glass reflects upon his family's reaction to his success in Hollywood, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Ronald Glass reflects upon his family's reaction to his success in Hollywood, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Ronald Glass reflects upon race relations in Indiana and his awareness of the Civil Right Movement

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Ronald Glass remembers not joining a college fraternity and his exemption from the draft

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Ronald Glass describes his character of Detective Ron Harris on 'Barney Miller,' pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Ronald Glass describes his character of Detective Ron Harris on 'Barney Miller, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Ronald Glass recalls his favorite scenes from the TV sitcom 'Barney Miller'

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Ronald Glass describes his work on the TV sitcom 'The New Odd Couple'

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Ronald Glass describes his role for the TV sitcom 'Mr. Rhodes'

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Ronald Glass describes his community involvement in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Ronald Glass describes his involvement with Los Angeles' Al Wooten Jr. Heritage Center

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Ronald Glass describes his appearance on the TV show 'Firefly' and the film 'Serenity'

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Ronald Glass talks about his desire to continue his acting career

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Ronald Glass describes his hopes for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Ronald Glass reflects upon his life and career, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Ronald Glass reflects upon his life and career, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Ronald Glass talks about his family

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Ronald Glass reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Ronald Glass describes how he would like to be remembered

Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong

Actor and record executive Aki Aleong was born on December 19, 1934 in Port of Spain, Trinidad, to Henry Leong (Aleong), a cook from Hong Kong, and Agnes Vera Gonsalves from St. Vincent, British West Indies; he was originally called Assing Aleong by his father and Leonard Gonzales by his mother. Aleong attended Progressive Education Institute in Trinidad as a youth. After moving to Brooklyn, New York, with his mother in 1949, Aleong graduated from Boys High School; in 1951, he started taking classes at Brooklyn College while working in a hardware store.

Responding to a casting call for an Asian character, Aleong was cast as the Goat Boy in the 1954 Broadway production of Teahouse of the August Moon on Broadway. In 1956, Aleong made his first live television appearance in The Letter, an episode of NBC’s Producers’ Showcase. In 1957, Aleong was cast in the movie Motorcycle Gang. Throughout his career, Aleong performed in over than 200 different television programs, including: Ben Casey (1961); The Outer Limits (1963); The Virginian (1967); L.A. Law(1986); Babylon 5 (1994); Kung Fu: The Legend Continues (1996); and Curb Your Enthusiasm (2001). Aleong’s movie credits include: Never So Few (1959); The Hanoi Hilton (1987); Farewell to the King (1989); Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story (1993); Tidal Wave: No Escape (1997); A Breed Apart (1998); Missing Brendan (2003); House of Sand and Fog (2003); and Sci-Fighter (2004).

Also a musician, Aleong wrote the hit songs Trade Winds and Shombalor; in 1963 he formed Aki Aleong and the Nobles. Leaving the movie business in 1967, Aleong worked as the west coast R&B sales and promotion manager for Capitol Records; an assistant vice president of promotion for Polydor Records; an assistant vice president of sales for Liberty/United Artist Records; the president of Pan World Records and Pan World Publishing (BMI); and a record producer for VeeJay Records. Aleong worked with The 5th Dimension, The Ojays, and Bobby Womack, and produced the Roy Ayers album Red Black and Green. Aleong also managed Norman Connors in 1976, and produced Connors’s gold record You are My Starship.

Onetime chairman of the Fraternity of Recording Executives, Aleong returned to acting in 1983. Aleong served on the boards of the Screen Actors Guild and the Media Action Network for Asian Americans and was the executive director for Asians in Media.

Accession Number

A2005.108

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/26/2005

Last Name

Aleong

Middle Name

Leonard Gonzales

Schools

Boys High School

Brooklyn College

First Name

Aki

Birth City, State, Country

Port of Spain

HM ID

ALE01

Favorite Season

Spring

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

12/19/1934

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

Trinidad & Tobago

Favorite Food

Peas and Rice

Short Description

Television actor and music executive Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong (1934 - ) appeared in numerous television and film roles in a career that spanned almost fifty years. In addition to his accomplishments in the realm of visual media, Aleong also served in a variety of executive roles within the recording industry, and released hit records as an artist.

Employment

Capitol Records, Inc.

Polydor Records

Liberty/UA Records

Pan World Records

Favorite Color

Black

Timing Pairs
0,0:3390,34:9638,142:14770,263:15165,269:16192,283:24367,368:25088,378:25809,386:34386,494:35670,512:39041,531:39650,543:40085,549:42782,594:44348,616:46175,649:47918,682:66576,984:67522,1008:79584,1175:83966,1262:84696,1300:91994,1361:93190,1453:93742,1460:104046,1585:104782,1595:121987,1906:130855,2006:133629,2065:133994,2071:143614,2175:144532,2204:146266,2228:150017,2255:153186,2296:153704,2307:155170,2314:155826,2323:158368,2364:159352,2398:159762,2404:166865,2502:169560,2584:173795,2669:179250,2696:179450,2701:179800,2710:180050,2716:180300,2722:182470,2733:183745,2758:192895,2951:193195,2956:194170,2974:199820,3007:202693,3022:203330,3034:203785,3043:204149,3048:210959,3178:213962,3253:215887,3291:218428,3339:224310,3410:224765,3418:225545,3432:225805,3437:229315,3572:232305,3660:243370,3781:247480,3875:250016,3893:250624,3903:251156,3912:261419,4088:263336,4119:266270,4131$0,0:2070,40:6440,79:8320,103:9354,112:9730,117:15810,159:16530,168:16980,177:17520,184:18060,191:19950,320:21660,342:26842,413:27498,424:27908,430:30614,493:36650,516:37182,521:38720,544:39200,552:39680,559:40400,567:41120,579:41600,586:45012,626:45348,634:46116,656:46308,661:51693,743:52107,751:52452,758:54246,797:55695,833:61772,885:62342,891:67030,912:67530,918:67930,923:68630,931:69210,936:69515,953:69759,958:70308,971:70674,979:71406,999:71955,1009:72199,1014:72443,1035:75005,1090:79560,1140:79973,1148:80445,1156:80740,1162:81212,1171:90034,1280:90642,1291:92086,1324:99478,1428:101334,1475:103190,1520:103480,1530:103886,1539:105336,1580:106670,1614:107250,1630:107656,1639:113593,1678:114081,1689:114447,1697:115301,1713:115850,1725:116094,1730:117680,1770:118290,1781:118717,1789:120120,1817:121218,1841:121462,1846:125582,1871:128680,1885:129152,1890:131880,1925:132160,1930:133700,1965:134190,1973:135310,1997:136220,2009:136710,2017:138250,2031:139090,2046:139510,2055:153650,2266:156616,2272:157078,2281:158200,2301:158464,2306:162101,2326:163169,2341:163703,2348:166426,2372:168312,2401:168886,2409:169542,2419:172036,2476:172765,2485:173089,2490:181730,2588:184710,2611:185880,2627:191379,2683:192198,2692:193134,2704:198350,2765:198728,2773:199358,2782:201652,2818:204468,2860:207268,2900:209392,2913:211025,2935:211735,2947:212019,2952:212587,2962:212942,2970:213226,2975:213510,2980:214220,2993:214575,3005:216066,3032:224080,3150:225055,3161:227830,3206:228130,3211:228805,3222:229780,3241:230830,3258:231205,3264:233830,3320:234280,3327:234580,3332:235030,3344:235405,3350:238654,3367:238926,3372:239606,3384:243346,3445:244230,3461:244570,3467:245318,3481:245794,3489:247290,3515:248106,3530:253360,3573:253640,3578:254200,3587:254480,3593:255180,3605:259750,3634:263550,3659:264880,3667:267870,3718:268374,3725:268878,3732:269970,3742:270810,3754:271314,3761:274349,3771:279434,3828:280451,3839:285197,3890:285762,3896:290056,3920:291412,3936:291864,3941:292316,3946:293593,4005:294755,4019:295336,4027:296166,4049:297245,4065:305540,4201:306656,4220:306904,4225:307524,4235:307772,4240:310004,4299:310376,4306:310748,4313:311430,4327:312174,4342:312422,4347:312856,4356:316380,4377:317340,4399:320880,4463
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong remembers immigrating to Brooklyn, New York City from Trinidad

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong describes his mother's childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong remembers his childhood in Port of Spain, Trinidad

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong describes his father

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong describes how his father processed opium

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong talks about his exposure to opium

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong describes his father's family background and the history of Chinese immigration to the Americas

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong describes the role of religion in his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong remembers moving to Brooklyn, New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong describes the culture shock he experienced upon immigrating to New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong remembers attending Boys High School in Brooklyn, New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong remembers joining a street gang

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong remembers gang activity and policing in Brooklyn, New York City in the 1950s

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong remembers being involved in a street fight in Brooklyn, New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong talks about his friend, Bolero Martinez, from Brooklyn, New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong recalls dancing at Brooklyn College in New York City

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong recalls his focus on dancing at Brooklyn College in New York City

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong describes his dance studies at Henry Street Settlement House in New York City

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong describes his audition for 'Teahouse of the August Moon'

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong describes the jobs he held while attending Brooklyn College in New York City

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong remembers watching a Broadway play for the first time

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong describes his role in 'Teahouse of the August Moon'

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong describes his friendship with Marlon Brando

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong remembers his time in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong describes acting in the television production of 'The Letter'

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong shares an insight he gained from acting in 'The Enemy'

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong recalls housing discrimination in California during the 1950s

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong describes working with Frank Sinatra

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong recalls disputes in Hollywood that impacted his career

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong describes the legacy of Bill Cosby and HistoryMaker Berry Gordy

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong talks about the relationship between Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr.

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong describes the limited roles for actors of color

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong describes the Asian community in Hollywood

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong recounts his efforts to increase diversity in advertising

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong talks about record companies' exploitation of the black community

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong recalls record companies' exploitation of black employees and musicians

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong describes the systemic discrimination against black disc jockeys and black record labels

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong describes big record companies buying out black labels

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong talks about why he quit acting

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong describes his promotional work with Liberty UA Records and PolyGram Records

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong talks about his friendship with HistoryMaker Reverend Al Sharpton

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong talks about leaving the record business and working as an ambulance driver

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong describes managing jazz musician Norman Connors

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong talks about promoting jazz musicians Norman Connors and Pharaoh Sanders

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong describes his presence in the doo wop scene

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong describes his sales and promotional work for Capitol Records

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong describes working with Ray Charles

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong describes working as an ambulance driver

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong remembers his return to acting

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong describes his TV roles and joining the National Board of Screen Actors Guild

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong talks about promoting diversity in Hollywood

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong describes promoting diversity with the SAG Ethnic Minorities Committee

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong explains the need for writers and producers of color

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong reflects upon his work as an activist

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong reflects upon the challenges of representing Asian Americans in the media

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong describes undermining stereotypes of Asians in his roles

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong talks about being perceived as Asian rather than black

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong reflects upon his life

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong describes his film, 'Chinaman's Chance: America's Other Slaves'

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong describes the need for more diverse stories

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong talks about his relationship with his children

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 11 Story: 1 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong narrates his photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 11 Story: 2 - Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong narrates his photographs, pt. 2

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$6

DAStory

3$4

DATitle
Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong remembers gang activity and policing in Brooklyn, New York City in the 1950s
Aki Leonard Gonzales Aleong recounts his efforts to increase diversity in advertising
Transcript
So, where I used to live, there's Prospect Park [New York, New York], you've heard of Prospect Park, right? And you have heard of the famous Empire roller rink [Empire Roller Skating Center, New York, New York], we integrated the Empire roller rink, that was my first confrontation with the law and with whitey. Now the roller rink was on the other side of the park which was heavily Jewish, so Bolero [Martinez (ph.)] and I and three of the guys used to go skating there. And Bolero was my idol, man; he was like 5'10" about a hundred and sixty pounds, thin, wiry, good looking man, looked like Romeo, man. And this guy man could skate, he did this you know wow, man. After a while all the girls used to come over to him, right, and then I was skating so then you know now and then I wouldn't ask anybody to dance but they would come over and grab me you know so I was, hey man, I was starting to integrate, right? Lo and behold, one day I'm skating, all of a sudden the girls coming over and they're passing me, we used to call it the knives were called shivs or putting--they were passing me these shivs, I put it in my pocket, what's going on? They had called the cops so there's only three black guys, man you know myself, right so what they did was they stopped Bolero and everybody and they frisked them, right? They frisked them you know to see what they had, right? I walked right by the cops, they never bothered with me (laughter) I walked right by, man. I (laughter) you know, so I used to carry this shivs whenever there was any problem, I would separate myself because I would be carrying either a marijuana cigarette or I'd be carrying the knives in my pocket you know what I'm saying? And smiling at the cops (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) They didn't think you were black?$$No, no, they never thought I was black, which is another story why I peep whitey and we'll talk about that later (laughter). But--so that-so---but Bolero man we used to--as a matter of fact I remember when Cher went to the Empire roller rink it was a big volt thing about how she went there skating blah, blah, blah. It was tough, man, so when I used to go to Brooklyn College [New York, New York] about six--about twelve blocks up, was the natural boundary. The natural boundary and it's always the train, Atlantic Avenue was there the train would come in from Long Island [New York] and I never went passed that boundary, I lived in my little ghetto, I never went. However, to go to Brooklyn College, I had to take the bus and everytime the bus would pass Atlantic Avenue I would get paranoid (laughter) because I was going into foreign territory. Now isn't that a shame, isn't that a damn shame to think about that? The college was in the other side, but because of this, we couldn't go past, I mean it was like an unwritten code. I used to feel scared but I had to go to school, right, so we used to take the Nostrand Avenue bus and go past that way to go to school. Anyways, so at Brooklyn College and at that point, with the gang activity you know what I'm saying, I was starting to fine my--a little bit of acceptance. I remember one night Bolero and I went down to Greenpoint [Brooklyn, New York, New York] to go to this party, I'm going to a party man, man I'm feeling good man, I'm going to this party. It's an all black party, man and you know and I can't dance, man (laughter) so I'm sitting down you know some guys come and say, "Hey what's the matter, don't you want to dance Bro?" "No, no, no, man I can't dance you know." So finally Bolero comes to me and said, "Hey man you in a lot of trouble." I said, "What are you talking about a lot of trouble?" "Man, these guys they don't like you man, they think you stuck up." I said, "Man but I want to dance man, I wanna get with the ladies but I can't dance, I'm embarrassed." So well we got a problem, I had to climb out from the second floor out of the bathroom window (laughter) and hang out and get out because they were going to kick my ass (laughter) because they thought I was stuck up, man. Imagine that man, had to climb out the back window.$And the percentages which will tell you because sitting on the board--in 1982, blacks represented four percent, four percent, man, four percent, okay? As the national chair of Screen Actors Guild [SAG; Screen Actors Guild - American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA)], co-chair of the [SAG Ethnic] Minorities Committee, Minorities Committee [Ethnic Equal Opportunities Committee], right? I found that there were like--while I was in New York [New York], I organized the program and I got over four hundred kids of color, blacks, mostly blacks, Asians some Native Americans, some Latinos. And I went to Madison Avenue and I said you know what, they're not in commercials, we were in even fewer commercials back then. I said we need a program, so being on the board of SAG, they said oh fine, well he can't do nothing. So I arranged the--a program wherein they would come in and audition these four hundred kids over a period of five months. And what it would be after they negotiate that they would--the kids would come in and they would already have a commercial they can read. But at the night of the audition, Madison Avenue, which controls everything, would then bring in a commercial in and then they can read and we'll tape it. So what I did was that I got some of the members of the board then I--then we videotaped. And I interviewed each kid, you know and most people--most actors you know they have--they don't even know what they look like their pictures don't represent them, it what they think it would be you know. Their hair is out of place, the whole nine yards, so I school them for like two months, then I put them on camera, and then I had them do commercials and they got in sync with what themselves would be, and then eventually Madison Avenue came in. Now during that period of time, we were negotiating contract for commercials. They said, the Madison Avenue said, you know what, we're not gonna pay you on a hundred percent of a commercial because you already lost 25 or 30 percent of the market. Because VCRs were coming in, people were taping; they were knocking out the commercial, so why would we pay you a 100 percent of the commercials? So being the chair of the Minorities Committee and I understood that, what was interesting was the fact that if you took 75 percent of the target audience now right, and most of that 25 percent that slipped away were mostly white--$$That had that kind of VCR.$$That's right that had that money, right? So now we're at 75 percent looking at it, right? Now if you have at that point 30 percent, okay, you had Latinos you had blacks, you had Asians, right, which could represent 25 percent, right? Now that 25 percent out of 75 percent, pretty healthy chunk, how much is that, 30 percent, right? So now you have 30 percent so your target audience is now 30 percent. All of a sudden SAG didn't do anything, so Madison Avenue--so my program was just coming in place. When they came and saw these kids, kids were doing Tetley Tea commercials, right, the brothers would pick up the cup, yo brother man, hey man, this good Tetley Tea, and they, they didn't one like traditional Tetley Tea, you know I mean they brought so much pizzazz and a different way of doing things. They brought their own soul to these different things that people were blown away, right? So what happened is that we started to get more jobs in commercials because, not because SAG was doing anything, but because they were targeting at 40 percent of the market. Interesting, it was nothing to do with anything else, except pure dollars, okay? So now today African Americans are 18 percent from '82 [1982] to today 18 percent of the jobs at Screen Actors Guild, 18 percent and rising rapidly. Latinos, a year ago, were 5.7 percent and they represent almost the same as African Americans. They've now risen 6.7, Asian Americans were 2.2, 2.4 percent for the last four years. And Native Americans had one slight gain last year from like 0.1 percent because they had a TV series that ran three days, a miniseries, there were more actors, so that's why it raised. They're microscopically out of the picture. Now, there are reasons why we can talk about why this increase and whatever, whatever. But it wasn't because of Screen Actors Guild; it was because of the fact that the demographics and the money and what you're looking at is the fact that they were targeting certain markets.

James Avery

Born on November 27, 1948, in Atlantic City, New Jersey, James Avery left his hometown after high school to serve in the U.S. Navy in Vietnam from 1968 to 1969. Avery then settled in San Diego, where he wrote poetry and television scripts, winning an Emmy Award for his production of Ameda Speaks: Poet James Avery. Avery also received a scholarship from the University of California at San Diego, where he obtained his B.A. degree in drama and literature in 1978. Avery was awarded an honorary doctorate from Virginia State University in 1996.

Throughout his career, spanning over thirty years, as a writer working with a collective group in San Diego, Avery also worked as an actor in television, film, and theater productions. Avery's first acting part came in the role of God in the play JB in 1971 at San Diego Community College. After performing in his first acting role, Avery went on to star in the UPN comedy series Sparks from 1996 to 1998; and had recurring roles on The Legend of Tarzan, Showtime's Soul Food, and The Division on the Lifetime Network. Avery was best known for his role as the uncle of Will Smith's character on the popular sitcom, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Avery also played roles as judges on L.A. Law, Night Court, and Murder One. Avery's movie credits included Dancing in September; Dr. Dolittle 2; and License to Drive. Avery performed on stage at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, playing the lead in Othello, among other roles; at the Back Alley and Met Theatres in Los Angeles; and in other productions across the country.

Avery. a seasoned traveler, indulged his passion acting as host of the critically acclaimed PBS series Going Places; the program, one public television's highest-rated series, enabled viewers to see different places in the world through Avery's eyes. As host of Going Places, Avery had the opportunity to visit such diverse locales as Turkey, Bali, Madrid, and Yellowstone National Park.

Avery passed away on December 31, 2013 at age 65.

Accession Number

A2003.138

Sex

Male

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

6/24/2003

Last Name

Avery

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Chelsea Junior High School

Virginia State University

University of California, San Diego

Chelsea Heights School

Indiana Avenue Elementary School

Archival Photo 2
First Name

Barbara

Birth City, State, Country

Atlantic City

HM ID

AVE01

Favorite Season

Christmas

State

New Jersey

Favorite Vacation Destination

Oceans

Favorite Quote

I will never be alone because I have my ancestors with me and I'm the sole reason for their existence.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

11/27/1948

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

All Food

Death Date

12/31/2013

Short Description

Television actor James Avery (1948 - 2013 ) was most famous for playing the role of Uncle Phil in The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, but also appeared on L.A. Law and Nightcourt. Avery performed at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and later combined his love for travel and his television experience in the acclaimed PBS series, Going Places.

Employment

Going Places

Delete

Sparks

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:0,98:1422,154:16595,298:17190,307:19230,363:20845,406:22290,439:23225,461:24075,471:26540,517:27390,530:27730,535:33450,546:34560,567:34930,575:35522,585:35892,591:36632,603:38950,614:45400,696:47500,755:47780,760:48340,777:48900,785:49460,794:50160,806:50440,811:50930,820:51280,827:53170,860:53730,868:54290,877:55060,892:55410,898:55900,907:56250,914:57300,940:57650,946:58630,962:63311,969:64221,982:64585,987:64949,992:65495,1000:68498,1049:74704,1149:75586,1166:78547,1228:81004,1301:81256,1306:81949,1325:82264,1331:83146,1355:83839,1376:84154,1382:84784,1395:85288,1407:86044,1427:86989,1444:87430,1455:88312,1483:90832,1544:91273,1565:92155,1586:92533,1593:93289,1609:93541,1617:104266,1718:105426,1755:106760,1788:108732,1832:110356,1877:110820,1886:112444,1924:113546,1939:114010,1950:114416,1961:114880,1971:118770,1980:119070,1986:120450,2022:120750,2028:123510,2101:125250,2135:125550,2141:126690,2163:126990,2169:127530,2180:128010,2189:128910,2210:129270,2220:129690,2229:131670,2290:131970,2296:132570,2316:133050,2325:133650,2336:134070,2344:138820,2393:139469,2406:140236,2424:140944,2454:141357,2464:143835,2528:144071,2533:144838,2548:145133,2555:146431,2581:147139,2601:147552,2609:150266,2677:150679,2686:151269,2699:151564,2705:152036,2715:152272,2720:156400,2726:157060,2739:158720,2760:159710,2788:160040,2802:160480,2815:161195,2831:161910,2854:162735,2871:163340,2884:170676,3013:171402,3028:172260,3042:172722,3053:176352,3141:178662,3188:179190,3199:180378,3231:181104,3249:181500,3257:184008,3314:184404,3323:185988,3364:186912,3382:187308,3389:187836,3404:188166,3413:188826,3434:195202,3459:195714,3468:196738,3488:197186,3497:197442,3502:197698,3507:198978,3532:199490,3540:200322,3559:201858,3594:202306,3602:205314,3662:205634,3668:206018,3675:206274,3680:208706,3737:209346,3748:211778,3831:212354,3847:212674,3853:213378,3868:213954,3879:214914,3908:215362,3917:216130,3932:218370,3992:220098,4031:220738,4041:221122,4048:228144,4079:228516,4086:228826,4095:229136,4102:229818,4121:230934,4147:232112,4171:232484,4178:234902,4233:235150,4238:236142,4259:236514,4267:239760,4276:240372,4281:242208,4292:247270,4355:249416,4401:251118,4432:251562,4440:252154,4452:252968,4467:253338,4473:256638,4484:257854,4530:259134,4562:259838,4581:260542,4598:260862,4604:261310,4615:261630,4621:264066,4630$0,0:2639,45:5278,133:5915,143:7553,169:11610,177:11874,182:12402,191:12864,201:13392,213:13722,219:14052,225:15174,244:15900,259:16164,264:18870,344:19134,351:27479,416:28063,426:28355,431:30472,471:31056,481:32005,504:35582,580:38296,592:38728,600:40024,627:40384,633:43836,722:44244,729:44652,736:45196,749:45536,755:46216,772:46828,789:47372,799:51525,845:51897,850:55200,890:59200,968:59600,974:60160,982:65632,1092:66322,1106:67978,1156:69634,1192:73222,1313:75154,1356:76189,1376:76810,1390:77293,1401:77638,1408:83490,1464:83758,1473:84160,1480:84495,1487:84830,1493:86103,1512:86773,1537:87644,1553:89118,1596:89520,1609:91865,1669:101710,1881:105532,1930:106642,1952:106938,1957:108344,1981:109528,2008:109898,2015:111896,2052:112414,2060:117294,2106:117756,2114:118020,2119:120528,2189:123935,2217:128698,2296:129162,2307:129452,2314:135590,2414:136015,2431:139925,2497:140945,2528:141880,2545:142475,2555:142900,2562:143240,2567:144260,2585:144940,2596:149714,2605:150119,2615:153278,2689:157597,2744:157841,2749:158207,2758:158878,2776:159427,2789:163335,2808:163888,2816:166066,2833:166570,2843:167018,2855:169468,2871:170098,2884:170350,2889:171043,2928:171610,2938:181080,3062:182480,3080:183180,3115:183580,3120:187194,3144:187682,3153:187987,3159:188231,3164:188658,3172:189085,3181:189939,3206:190366,3215:190610,3220:190915,3226:191708,3244:193660,3290:194636,3325:195063,3334:195490,3342:197747,3409:198113,3416:198784,3428:199638,3453:199882,3458:200980,3488:201529,3498:202017,3507:206890,3523:207202,3532:207618,3543:207878,3549:210308,3576:210564,3581:212100,3624:212356,3629:212804,3638:214084,3684:214468,3693:217668,3772:218756,3798:219076,3804:219396,3814:220356,3836:225070,3873:229033,3923:231021,3979:234464,4048:234734,4054:236192,4087:236462,4094:236840,4103:239050,4133
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of James Avery interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - James Avery's favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - James Avery discusses his mothers' hardscrabble life

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - James Avery remembers his Uncle Pete

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - James Avery describes his childhood neighborhood

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - James Avery describes the smells and sounds of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - James Avery describes himself as a boy

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - James Avery shares childhood anecdotes of the neighborhood and the beach in Atlantic City

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - James Avery shares childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - James Avery recalls elementary school

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - James Avery shares some junior high school experiences

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - James Avery reflects on his mother's values

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - James Avery describes his teachers, good and bad

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - James Avery discusses the tension between wanting to learn and being accused of "acting white"

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - James Avery remembers the people who influenced him as a youth

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - James Avery describes himself as a high school student

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - James Avery details his decision to attend Virginia State University

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - James Avery recalls a physical confrontation in college

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - James Avery recounts another physical confrontation during a Civil Rghts March

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - James Avery explains his rash decision to join the Navy

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - James Avery describes his service in Vietnam

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - James Avery recalls his move to San Diego

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - James Avery recounts college life in San Diego in the early 1970s

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - James Avery describes early employment in San Diego

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - James Avery details his early stage career

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - James Avery remembers his successes as a stage actor

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - James Avery details his transition to television acting roles

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - James Avery discusses finding his voice as a black actor

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - James Avery recalls the roles that shaped his acting career

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - James Avery describes the tension of black actors having to represent universal "blackness"

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - James Avery discusses the false distinctions between acting in film, tv, commericals or theater

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - James Avery recounts moonlighting on different television shows

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - James Avery relates how he got cast in 'The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air'

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - James Avery details his experiences on 'The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air'

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - James Avery discusses the type-casting and limited roles for African Americans in Hollywood

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - James Avery explores the lack of ingenuity in Hollywood

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - James Avery lists the highlights of his career

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - James Avery explains why Sparks was canceled

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - James Avery discusses the relegation of "black shows" to few channels

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - James Avery expresses the need for realistic and diverse casting for movies and shows

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - James Avery shares his hopes for his future career

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - James Avery ponders the possibilities for a black Hollywood

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - James Avery reflects on the few contemporary multi-ethnic television shows

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - James Avery names Hollywood's brightest talent

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - James Avery describes his mother's pride in his career

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - James Avery reflects on his relationship with his wife

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - James Avery expresses his concerns for the black community

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - James Avery shares his advice to young African Americans in entertainment

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - James Avery ponders his legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - James Avery is still in touch with his inner child

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Photo - James Avery's mother, Florence Avery, and his uncle Pete, Atlantic City, New Jersey, ca. 1950s

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Photo - James Avery with his family, ca. 1970s

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Photo - James Avery on the set of Scavenger Hunt, ca. 1978

Tape: 7 Story: 11 - Photo - James Avery with Carmen DeAcuna, ca. 1978

Tape: 7 Story: 12 - Photo - James Avery with his family, Atlantic City, New Jersey, ca. 1970s

Tape: 7 Story: 13 - Photo - James Avery's mother, Florence Avery

Tape: 7 Story: 14 - Photo - James Avery with his wife, Barbara, Paris, France

Tape: 7 Story: 15 - Photo - James Avery with his mother, Florence Avery, Brigantine, New Jersey

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$5

DAStory

1$6

DATitle
James Avery discusses finding his voice as a black actor
James Avery relates how he got cast in 'The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air'
Transcript
Actors often talk about finding their voice, and I'm wondering, do you remember--did you ever say that you ever found your voice? Or when you found your voice as an actor, your sense of, you know--$$Sense of what? No, no, seriously, what?$$Your sense of, you know, the inside, the inside part of being an actor. I mean the inside--$$The in--$$--cause you said that, you know, I could read, I could make things come across the page, you know, that was--and I know your training came afterward, but I'm just saying, when did you find that, that internal voice?$$You know, I think I'm still looking for that. But actually, and this is going to--I don't mean for it to sound this way, but it's a fact. We are a product of who and what we are and what we come from. And as an African American involved in this culture, when I look at the, the achievements of African American artists, and I think they all have a piece of my voice. And I think that because of them I even had the idea that maybe I even had a voice. And that's what started me to look for it. I could see, you know, I remember watching, well, Sidney Poitier, I remember as a kid watching the few black movies that there were. I remember in the '70s [1970s] hearing about--because we were out on the West Coast. We weren't on the East Coast. We weren't there with the Negro Ensemble Company. We weren't there with all the other black companies that were happening in New York, with indeed the theater movement that was happening in New York at the time. But we were out here, and there were other little, little groups happening. And what it made you do was, was examine your own aesthetic. And so once we settled on, once I, I went and, and strangely enough, the poetry and the literature, and black literature specifically, even though I was grounded in European literature as, as we all are in the European tradition of, of aesthetic and what's going on. But there's a, there's a, there's a black, a black sensibility and certain rhythm that comes through. I, I can only describe it musically like most of us have as in jazz and, and blues and whatever, those interesting beats and music things and rhythmic things that move you into it. When you started in the '70s [1970s] and you started listening to the black poetry, there was a definite difference between them and, and, and Elizabeth Barrett Browning or Robert Lewis Stevenson or e.e. cummings. Now, they were all valid and important, and I admired them, but there was something that was much more effecting about, about a Nikki Giovanni or whatever. And it's because they were reflecting experiencing, I guess, that we shared. But in terms of developing a black voice was more about developing a black esthetic. And what that is, is when I say that, because black is the presence of all colors. It means that incorporates the European, it incorporates all of the influences that created the culture in the (unclear) era in which I grew, grew up. When I started doing black theater, like 'Days of Absence.' That was like of wonderful--'Ceremonies In Dark Old Men' or, you know, 'First Breeze of Summer' or, we did a production of 'Death of a Salesman,' black production of 'Death of a Salesman'; didn't have to change it because the issues that are dealt with in that play are universal. We did, and we did [William] Shakespeare. The issues that are dealt with are universal. Now, the sensibility, there was a European sensibility, but in order to make that accessible for me, as an African American actor, it first has to come through me as an African American person. And, and--and the incorporation of all of those things that makes me up, that helps me see this, and to bring my own particular thing. When we did 'Sizwe Bansi is Dead' and 'The Island,' by [Athol] Fugard, the issues that are dealt with there are universal, specific to South African in terms of oppression, in terms of, of--especially in 'The Island', which is the most political of the piece, where it talks about the things that are, are Caesar's and the things that are man's, that God's law and man's law are sometime in conflict and one has to choose between God's law and man's law. And God's law is the most important. So being able to identify that particular definition, you know what I'm saying. And so I, in terms of a black voice for my own particular voice as an actor, that's something I'm, I think I have, but I think I'm, I'm still seeking to define, you know. I don't know when everyone does that. It's says like, you know, when did you become a man? I don't know. I'm still becoming.$Tell the story of even how you got with, you know, Fresh Prince of Bel Air, I mean how that, how that all came--$$Oh, wow, that was, that was, that was funny. That was funny. Like anything else, you know, I was still under contract for 'FM', which was--for some reason, I don't know, they were screwing around. We kept, we did, it took like over a year to do 13 shows. I don't know why. But it did. And in the meantime, they called me when--I was looking for a job actually, waiting, you know, for some auditions. And they called me and told me they were auditioning for a pilot for a rapper, this new rapper called the Fresh Prince. Well, I don't know who they're talking about because I don't listen to rap so I really didn't care. All I cared about was, okay, fine, where am I going and where are the sides and what do I do? And so they gave me that. And so I went out to the audition in '90 [1990], '89 [1989], '90 [1990], I don't remember. And it was funny because there were auditioning with me for Geoffrey and the father. And [Joseph] Joe Marcell who played Geoffrey had just flown in from London [England] where he'd done like 'Seven Guitars' or--he did, did an August Wilson play [Joe Turner's Come and Gone] in London. And they saw him do that, and they brought him over to audition for this. And, and--well we were laughing and talking outside and having a good time. And what I found out later was this was like the final callbacks. They had called every, every black actor in Los Angeles [California] and beyond. They'd done, been in New York, and they were just back here in L.A. And they were just--everybody was in. I think it was like the final callbacks. But I didn't know that. So I didn't worry about it. And so, okay, so my turn--matter of fact, Geoffrey, Joe and I were laughing and having such a good time, they made us come out and move because we were being too loud. So anyway, they called me in, my turn came. I walk into this long, this room with along table, chairs on each side, all these suits sitting around. And I look over and there's this kid sitting over here with his hair turned, his cap turned back and his feet up on the table. And they give me my sides. And so I looked at him, and I say, "Take your feet off the table. And look at me when I talk to you." And we do the scene. Because I didn't care. You know, I had another audition right after that. And that was fine. And so I did it and, and I left and we had a good time. Then I went to my other audition. I did that, and then I came home. And by the time I got home, my agent had called and said I got the job. Well, that kid was, was Will [Smith], was Fresh, Fresh Prince. And I got the job. And then the next week, we shot the, started shooting the pilot. And it was amazing because it was a wonderful ensemble of people. And we really liked each other. We had a wonderful time, had a wonderful time. And that's how I got that.$$Was that--you, you had experienced ensembles before, but earlier--$$Yeah.$$Was this, was this sort of like that or even more magical?$$It was even more magical because we actually enjoy each other's company, even off camera. And we would go have lunch together. And we would shop together. As a matter of fact, we started getting memos because we'd take too long at lunch because we'd be just laughing and talking and--so they had a really great craft service so we could just stay there and do it. And we'd go Christmas shopping together and we just, we just had a great time.$$Now, FM, had it had more than one series--were you--did you do one, more than one year? You said (simultaneous)$$No.$$Okay, so this was your, this was your second series--$$I had to get, yeah, I had to get released from the contract. I was still under the contract to 'FM', but Brandon [Tartikoff] allowed me to go ahead and do this, audition for this show because left, you know, I--left up to NBC, I wouldn't have been able to. But there was--which is probably why I didn't get into the first batch of processes. But Brandon made a point of getting me into this audition.