Type to search


In Memoriam


Nichelle Nichols was the groundbreaking actress who played Lieutenant Nyota Uhura in the original “Star Trek” series. She passed away at the age of 89. Nichols’ character Uhura broke barriers as one of the first Black female leads on television. She gained fame as the beautiful, composed, immensely competent Lt. Uhura on three seasons of “Star Trek” on TV and in six “Star Trek” movies. A Black American cast as a master of 23rd-century intergalactic technology, she had a role that defied the

typical portrayal of Black women as domestics or entertainers. Feeling her character lacked depth, she contemplated leaving the show for a Broadway play after its first season. She was dissuaded by none other than the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. After meeting MLK, Jr., who was a fan of the show, she decided to stay. Nichols was born in Illinois as Grace Nichols. She was discovered in Chicago by composer and musician Duke Ellington as a teenager while working as a dancer and choreographer. Nichols appeared on “Star Trek” in its debut season in 1966. 

Tony Dow, the actor best known for playing Wally Cleaver on the sitcom “Leave It to Beaver,” died Wednesday at the age of 77. Dow’s big brother character helped create the popular and lasting image of the American teenager of the 1950s and 60s. Dow was born and raised in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles to a stuntwoman mother who acted as a double for a silent film actress. Dow had done just a little stage acting and appeared in a pair of pilots before attending an open casting call where he landed his career-defining role as Wally. Dow would play the part for six seasons and more than 200 episodes from 1957 to 1963 on primetime on CBS and ABC, then for more than 100 episodes in the 1980s on a syndicated sequel series. Dow would appear as a guest star on other TV series throughout the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, including “My Three Sons,” “Dr. Kildare,” “Adam-12,” “Emergency,” “Square Pegs” and “Knight Rider.” He took a break from acting to serve three years in the U.S. National Guard in the late 1960s. From 1983 to 1989, amid a cultural craze for nostalgia television, Dow reprised the role of Wally in “The New Leave it to Beaver.” He began writing and directing episodes of that series, and would work as a director on television throughout the 1990s on shows including “The New Lassie,” “Babylon 5,” “Harry and the Hendersons” and “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.” At a time when such disclosures were rare, Dow went public with his clinical depression in the 1980s and made self-help videos on accepting and dealing with the illness.

Hall of Famer Bill Russell, the cornerstone of the Boston Celtics dynasty that won eight straight titles and 11 overall during his career, died Sunday at the age of 88. Over a 15-year period, beginning with his junior year at the University of San Francisco, Russell had the most remarkable career of any player in the history of team sports. At USF, he was a two-time All-American, won two straight NCAA championships, and led the team to 55 consecutive wins. And he won a gold medal at the 1956 Olympics. During his 13 years in Boston, he carried the Celtics to the NBA Finals 12 times, winning the championship 11 times, the last two titles while he was also serving as the NBA’s first Black coach. A five-time MVP and 12-time All-Star, Russell was an uncanny shot-blocker who revolutionized NBA defensive concepts. He finished with 21,620 career rebounds – an average of 22.5 per game – and led the league in rebounding four times. He had 51 rebounds in one game and 49 in two others and posted 12 straight seasons with 1,000 or more rebounds. Russell also averaged 15.1 points and 4.3 assists per game over his career. Russell was considered by many as the greatest player in NBA history.

Paul Sorvino, an imposing actor who specialized in playing crooks and cops like Paulie Cicero in “Goodfellas” and the NYPD sergeant Phil Cerretta in “Law & Order,” died Monday at the age of 83. In his over 50 years in the entertainment business, Sorvino was a mainstay in films and television, playing an Italian American communist in Warren Beatty’s “Reds,” Henry Kissinger in Oliver Stone’s “Nixon” and mob boss Eddie Valentine in “The Rocketeer.” He would often say that while he might be best known for playing gangsters, his real passions were poetry, painting, and opera. Born in Brooklyn in 1939 to a mother who taught piano and a father who was a foreman in a robe factory, Sorvino was musically inclined from a young age and attended the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York where he fell for the theater. He made his Broadway debut in 1964 in “Bajour” and his film debut in Carl Reiner’s “Where’s Poppa?” in 1970. With his 6-foot-4-inch stature, Sorvino made an impactful presence no matter the medium. In the 1970s, he acted alongside Al Pacino in “The Panic in Needle Park” and with James Caan in “The Gambler,” reteamed with Reiner in “Oh, God!” and was among the ensemble in William Friedkin’s bank robbery comedy “The Brink’s Job.”

Taurean Blacque, best known for his Emmy-nominated performance as a detective on the critically acclaimed NBC drama series “Hill Street Blues,” died on Thursday in Atlanta at the age of 82. Blacque began his career as a stage actor in New York and had several television appearances under his belt when, in 1981, he landed his breakthrough role: the street-smart Detective Neal Washington on “Hill Street Blues,” which drew praise for its realistic portrayal of the day-to-day reality of police work and was nominated for 98 Emmy Awards in its seven seasons, winning 26. The part of Washington, Mr. Blacque later recalled, was sketchily written, and it was his choice to play the character as quiet and reflective. “I think the original concept was that hip, jive Black man, you know, but I wanted to turn it around a little, give him some depth, not get into that stereotype.” Blacque was nominated for a 1982 Primetime Emmy for best-supporting actor in a drama series, but he lost to his fellow cast member Michael Conrad. “Hill Street Blues” ended its run in 1987, and two years later Mr. Blacque starred with Vivica A. Fox and others on the NBC soap opera “Generations.” Probably the most racially diverse daytime drama of its era, “Generations” dealt with the relationship over the years between two Chicago families, one white and one Black. He later moved to Atlanta, where he was active on the local theater scene, appearing in productions of August Wilson’s “Jitney,” James Baldwin’s “The Amen Corner” and other plays. Blacque was born Herbert Middleton Jr. on May 10, 1940, in Newark. His father was a dry cleaner, his mother a nurse. He graduated from Arts High School in Newark but did not decide to pursue an acting career until he was almost 30 and working as a mail carrier. He enrolled at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York in 1969 and, he told USA Today, “Once I found out that acting was my niche, I poured all my energies into it.”


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *