I was watching an episode of T.J. Hooker a couple of days ago when I was reminded of this fine actor, and said to myself, "Self, you need to add him to that Sidney to Denzel to Morgan thread. And so...
He's done a lot of great character work in many TV series over the years, and small but memorable parts in several films.
But what I liked him best in was this man's...
...exceptionally solid crime thriller...
In this film, and in most of his performances as a heavy, the key word that always comes to mind is menacing. Williams has a stare and an energy that is often frightening and certainly unpredictable. He's one smooth, scary muthah.
Speakin’ of “52 Pick-Up”’s John Glover Department:
During that future Sardi’s soiree with you and the Missus, PhillyJay, remind us to tell ya ‘bout the mortifyin’ tyme we gave him a bloody nose – accidentally, natch – when, during a too-dark backstage scene change as he played the title role in
we didn’t see him comin’, and he sure as heck didn’t see us comin’ ( hay, watchit! ) – and we ran smack dab face full-on into one another. The next act was delayed while everyone waited for his nose to stop gushing like a reddened Niagara but, eventually, the show did go on.
”He was a master class in cerebral eloquence and audience command ... and although his dominant playing card in the realm of acting was quite serious and stately, nobody cut a more delightfully dry edge in sitcoms than this gentleman, whose calm yet blistering put-downs often eluded his lesser intelligent victims …
Blessed with rich, mellifluous tones and an imposing, cultured air, Roscoe became a rare African-American fixture on the traditionally white classical stage.” - Gary Brumburgh.
When once informed by a director his speech sounded "white", Mr. Browne mischieviously quipped, "We had a white maid".
And when he appeared with Laurence Fishburne in the latter’s Tony-Award winning performance on Broadway in 1992’s
not only did he introduce the grateful thesp to the wonders and disciplined distinction of poetry but also selected him (along with Anthony Zerbe) as executors and administrators of the Roscoe Lee Browne Scholarship Fund plus his writing/essays and poetry being donated to Lincoln University.
“The posters themselves are powerful, beautiful and striking. They tell a really great story about the industry that was out there that a lot of people don’t know.” – David Failor, Manager of Stamp Services, The Postal Service.
Paul Ellington, left, grandson of Duke Ellington and leader of the Duke Ellington Orchestra, actress Lynn Whitfield, star of “The Josephine Baker Story”, and Newark Mayor Cory Booker view movie poster stamps honoring vintage black cinema during a first-day-of-issue ceremony at the Newark Museum.
“Between 1912 and 1929, these movies were made exclusively by independents, some black and some white. They offered sharply different portrayals of blacks than you would find in Hollywood films at the time. They were lawyers, cowboys. If there were African-American characters in Hollywood films, they were secondary and servile.” – Gerald R. Butters, Jr., Dean of General Education, Aurora University in Illinois.
A’course, there’s another Trinity that deserves their own immortalization as well:
sew mebbe we’ll stick around for another 5,000 years in order to see THAT, too (three)
As we enter this penultimate offering, we haveta say there are a great many others whom time didn’t allow entry into this brilliantly-belated actoral Appreciation, but one we didn’t wanna deny the an honorable spotlight to is someone whose career isn’t quite as immediately well-known as some of his predecessors but whose cumulative effect
is no less impressive. His name? Al Freeman Jr.
Starting on stage in New York in the early 60s ala many of his colorful contemporaries, he distinguished himself opposite Diana Sands in
“Blues for Mister Charlie”
which then led to originating the haunted, tragic revolutionary in Leroi Jones “The Slave”
As to that – in addition to winning an Emmy as Lt. Ed Hall on “One Life to Live”, he was also one of – if not the first – African-American to direct a soap.
(Don’t blink ‘cause he’s only in the first minute or so of this clip …)
His mainstream breakthrough occurred opposite Patty Duke
which provided the opportunity to act opposite Ol’ Blue Eyes
before top-lining Anthony Harvey’s directorial debut in the film version of the former Mr. Jones’
that features an electrifying performance from Miss Knight.
His heavyweight co-stars continued with
plus working with the pre-Corleone Francis Coppola in
And, although this 1969 film is best remembered as the project that brought El Sid and his future wife together,
Mr. Freeman walked away with it all due to his no-nonsense character of conscience (even to the point of not only holding his own opposite his heavyweight star but having an equal charismatic intensity that made it durn near impossible not to admirably focus on him).
Incidentally, remember this historic Oscar-winning perf?
Didja know it was remade into a Broadway musical in the spring of 1970 with a pedigree that comprised no less than Jule Styne’s music and Shirley Booth in Lilia Skala’s original film role. Sammy Davis Jr.’s evidently too Olympian salary demands ruled him out so the subject of this appreciation was beamed on board – alas, it ran for scarcely more than a month.
One of his most compelling characterizations was as Malcolm X (opposite James Earl Jones as Alex Haley in
and later provided a bookend portrayal as
He’s continued carving out striking portrayals
in various enterprises (not the Starship )
before stepping into his current role as a professor at Howard University.
Still, our Steed-ish derby is off to him for the fine way he’s acquitted himself over the last few decades with such dedication, discipline and subtle distinction.