William Marshall (film and television actor)

William Marshall (film and television actor)

Infobox actor
name = William Marshall

imagesize = 200px
caption =
birthname = William Horace Marshall
birthdate = birth date|1924|8|19|mf=y
birthplace = Gary, Indiana
deathdate = death date and age|2003|6|11|1924|8|19|mf=y
deathplace = Los Angeles, California
academyawards =
Spouse =
William Horace Marshall (19 August 1924 – 11 June 2003) was an American actor, director, and opera singer. He is best known for his title role in the 1972 blaxploitation classic "Blacula" and its sequel "Scream Blacula Scream" (1973). He had a commanding height of 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m), as well as a deep bass voice.


Marshall was born in Gary, Indiana, the son of Thelma (née Edwards) and Vereen Marshall, who was a dentist. [http://www.filmreference.com/film/52/William-Marshall.html William Marshall Biography (1924-2003) ] ] After graduation from Governors State University,Chicago Tribune, 22 June 2003] he attended New York University as an art student, but then trained for a theatre career at the Actors Studio, at the American Theatre Wing, and with Sanford Meisner at the Neighborhood Playhouse. [CNN, 17 June 2003, http://www.cnn.com/2003/SHOWBIZ/Movies/06/17/deaths.marshall.ap/index.html] He made his Broadway debut in 1944 in "Carmen Jones". Among his many other Broadway appearances, he understudied Boris Karloff as Captain Hook in "Peter Pan" in 1950, then played the leading role of De Lawd in the 1951 revival of "The Green Pastures" (a role he repeated in a BBC telecast of the play in 1958). [Internet Broadway Database, http://www.ibdb.com/person.php?id=111101] He performed in Shakespeare plays many times on the stage in the U.S. and Europe, including the title role in at least six productions of "Othello". His Othello (which was later captured in a video production in 1981), was called by Harold Hobson of the London Sunday Times "the best Othello of our time," [Jet magazine, 30 June 2003] continuing:

"...nobler than [Godfrey Tearle| [Godfrey] Tearle] , more martial than [John Gielgud| [John] Gielgud] , more poetic than [Frederick] Valk. From his first entry, slender and magnificently tall, framed in a high Byzantine arch, clad in white samite, mystic, wonderful, a figure of Arabian romance and grace, to his last plunging of the knife into his stomach, Mr Marshall rode without faltering the play's enormous rhetoric, and at the end the house rose to him." [The (London) Independent, 6 July 2003]

Marshall even played Othello in a jazz musical version, "Catch My Soul", with Jerry Lee Lewis as Iago, in Los Angeles in 1968. [Christgau, Robert. "Any Old Way You Choose It", ISBN 0815410417] He also portrayed on stage Paul Robeson and Frederick Douglass, both of whom Marshall resembled either in appearance or in physical presence and ability. (Marshall researched Douglass's life for years and portrayed him on television in "Frederick Douglass: Slave and Statesman", which he co-produced in 1983. [1983 Peabody Awards entry form, Hargrett Library, University of Georgia] )

Marshall's career on screen began in 1952 in "Lydia Bailey" as a Haitian leader. He followed that with a prominent role as Glycon, comrade and fellow gladiator to Victor Mature in "Demetrius and the Gladiators" (1954). His demeanor, voice and stature gave him a wide range, though he was ill-suited for the subservient roles that many black actors of his generation were most frequently offered. He was Attorney General Edward Brooke in "The Boston Strangler" and a leader of the Mau-Mau uprising in "Something of Value". He received the most widespread fame for his role in the vampire film "Blacula" and its sequel "Scream Blacula Scream". In later years, Marshall played the King of Cartoons on "Pee-wee's Playhouse", replacing actor Gilbert Lewis, during the 1980s. (The character's catch phrase "Let...the cartoooon...begin!" became immensely popular.) In the early 1950s, Marshall starred briefly in a series about black police officers, entitled "Harlem Detective". The show was canceled when Marshall was named as a communist in the anti-communist newsletter Counterattack. [Caute, David. "The Great Fear: The Anti-Communist Purges under Truman and Eisenhower", ISBN 0671248480] Nonetheless, Marshall managed to continue appearing in both television and films. Marshall is perhaps best remembered by television viewers for his roles as Dr. Richard Daystrom in the "Star Trek" episode "The Ultimate Computer" and as the travelling opera singer Thomas Bowers on "Bonanza". He won two local Emmys for producing and performing in a PBS production, "As Adam Early in the Morning", a poetical theatre piece originally performed on stage.

In addition to his acting and producing work, Marshall taught acting at various universities including University of California, Irvine and at the Mufandi Institute, an African-American arts and music institution in the Watts section of Los Angeles. He did similar work at Chicago's eta Creative Arts Foundation, which in 1992 named Marshall one of its Epic Men of the 20th Century.

Marshall was the unmarried partner for 42 years of Sylvia Gussin Jarrico, former wife of blacklisted screenwriter Paul Jarrico. Marshall died June 11, 2003, from complications arising from Alzheimer's disease and diabetes. He is survived by four children: sons Tariq, Malcolm, and Claude Marshall, and daughter, singer Gina Loring. The eulogies at his funeral were spoken by Sidney Poitier, Ivan Dixon, Paul Winfield, and Marla Gibbs. [eXo News, 9 July 2003]


External links

*imdb name|id=0551234|name=William Marshall
* Via CBS News.

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