It is with heavy hearts that we report television actor and theater great Earle Hyman passed away* November 17th, 2017, at the age of 91. Hyman was born October 11th, 1926 in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, of African-American and Native American ancestry. Hyman’s parents, Zachariah Hyman (Tuscarora) and Maria Lilly Plummer (Haliwa-Saponi/Nottoway), moved their family to Brooklyn, New York, where Hyman primarily grew up.
According to an interview in The Villager, Hyman’s interest in theater started at the age of 13 after seeing a production of Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen’s Ghosts. Hyman stated,
“The first play I ever saw was a present from my parents on my 13th birthday — Nazimova in ‘Ghosts’ at Brighton Beach on the subway circuit — and I just freaked out.”
Hyman would go on to make his Broadway stage debut as a teenager in 1943 in Run, Little Chillun, and later joined the American Negro Theater. The following year, Hyman began a two-year run playing the role of Rudolf on Broadway in Anna Lucasta, starring Hilda Simms in the title role. He became a charter member of the American Shakespeare Theatre beginning with its first season in 1955 and played the role of Othello in the 1957 season. Throughout his career, he continued to take on challenging characters playing side by side with great likes Andy Griffith (No Time for Sergeants 1958) and Luther Adler (The Merchants of Venice 1973). It was in 1980 when Hyman would get his shot at the lead, playing Oscar in The Lady from Dubuque, earning a Tony Award Nomination for Best Featured Actor.
His career on Broadway would span nearly 50 years with a total of 16 productions to his name with his work earning him a Theater World Award in 1965, and the 1988 St. Olav Award for his work in Norweigan Theater, a language for which he is also fluent.
In the television world his career spanned nearly 60 years with his first credited work being Look up and Live in 1954; Throughout the years he would continue playing various small screen roles including adaptions of Macbeth (1968), Julius Caesar (1979), and Coriolanus (1979).
However, He is best known for his role on the iconic sitcom The Cosby Show, where he played Russell Huxtable, father to Heathcliffe Huxtable played by Bill Cosby. His work garnered him a 1986 Primetime Emmy nomination for “Outstanding Guest Performer in a Comedy Series.” During this time, he also did work for the animated series “Thundercats,” where he played the voice of Pantho for five seasons.
Hyman is also related to the iconic singer and Broadway actress, the late Phyllis Hyman (Sophisticated Ladies 1981) and rising recording artist/actress Myriam Hyman (@Robynhoodmusic)
R.I.P. Earle Hyman (Best Featured Actor nominee @thetonyawards 1980 for ‘The Lady from Dubuque’) #YouAreBroadwayBlack • With over 15 Broadway credits to his name Earle Hyman was an American stage, TV, & film actor most notably known for his role on The Cosby Show as Cliff’s father, Russell Huxtable as well as the voice of Panthro on Thundercats. He made his Broadway debut in 1943 in ‘Run, Little Chillun’ & would later join the American Negro Theatre. Born October 11th, 1926 we honor his life and the contributions he made with his stellar craft. (Relation to music legend Phyllis Hyman & rising star @robynhoodmusic Miriam A. Hyman)
*We received this news shortly after his passing on the early morning of November 17th from a few close, reliable sources who reached out to us. Out of respect for his family & those who loved him personally we held the information until today.
Happy Jackie Washington Day! Get Into All That Is Jenifer Lewis!
Don’t act like you don’t know what day it is. Today is July 15th. A day that is undoubtedly in one of the top spots for the most celebrated made-up holidays in the world. It’s Jackie Washington Day. An icon made famous by the incomparable Black mother of Hollywood, Jenifer Lewis. If you’ve never watched the film Jackie’s Back to witness the outstanding performance Lewis gives as Jackie Washington you need to go to drop everything and watch it ASAP!
Presented as a mockumentary, Jackie’s Back chronicles the life and career of Jackie Washington (Jenifer Lewis), a 1960s/1970s R&B diva. After several years of toiling in obscurity, Washington decides to organize her own comeback concert with filmmaker Edward Whatsett St. John (Tim Curry) filming the event.
Jackie’s Back is a cult classic and is simply timeless although the filmed was released 20 years ago, June 14, 1999. Directed by the legendary Robert Townsend, the film also starred David Hyde Pierce, Tim Curry, & Whoopi Goldberg with special appearances by Diahann Carroll, Liza Minnelli, Rosie O’Donnell, Chris Rock, Bette Midler, Charles Barkley, Don Cornelius, and many more!
She graced the Broadway stage on more than one occasion. If you read her book “The Mother of Black Hollywood” you’ll learn all about her theatre background. She was last seen as Motormouth Maybelle in the Broadway musical Hairspray in 2008.
She also keeps us cackling on ABC’s Black-ish:
Kareem Lucas’ The Maturation of an Inconvenient Negro (or ‘iNegro’) Kicks Off Cherry Lane Theatre’s Mentor Project
Cherry Lane Theatre is proud to kick-off its Obie Award-winning Mentor Project with this year’s first production, The Maturation of an Inconvenient Negro (or iNegro) written by and starring Kareem M. Lucas, mentored by Craig ‘muMs’ Grant. The Maturation of an Inconvenient Negro is directed by David Mendizábal and began performances on Wednesday, February 20 and runs through March 2 at the Cherry Lane Theatre (38 Commerce Street, NYC). Tickets are $25 ($60 for a three-show membership) and can be purchased by visiting cherrylanetheatre.org or by calling 866-811-4111.
This solo show of heightened poetry and raw self-reflection takes the audience on the subversive journey of a young Black man coming into himself, as he struggles to break free of what he holds onto most tightly. In iNegro – No one is safe. Nothing is sacred.
This marks the first show of three Mentor Project productions. Upcoming productions include three girls never learnt the way home, written by Matthew Paul Olmos and mentored by Taylor Mac (March 13 – 23, 2019) and The Climb written by C.A. Johnson and mentored by Martyna Majok (April 3 – 13, 2019). Casting and creative team TBA.
The creative team includes set design by Wilson Chin, costumes by Dede Ayite, lighting design by Cha See, sound design and composer Mauricio Escamilla, and Kristy Bodall is the Production Stage Manager.
The Mentor Project, winner of an Obie Award for its dedication to helping early-career playwrights develop new work, each year partners an emerging author with a seasoned professional for a year of script work, rewrites, casting, rehearsals and a full production at Cherry Lane. Mentor Project is also the recipient of the James Kirkwood Award for American Playwrights.
This marks the 21st year if the Mentor Project which has helped develop works by playwrights such as Jocelyn Bioh, Katori Hall, Rajiv Joseph, and Antoinette Nwandu.
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