We were devastated to learn of the passing of Calvin Lockhart, and it is with great sorrow that we remember this legendary actor, one of our all-time favorites...
Before Denzel Washington, and slightly after the reign of Harry Belafonte, there was Calvin Lockhart. During his nearly 30 year film career, his acting talent was upstaged only by his tremendous good looks. Though his skill and physical assests surpassed many of his caucasian contemporaries, Hollywood failed to capitalize on the ball of fire that was Calvin Lockhart. Despite the limitations of the film industry for black actors of the time, his contribution to film remains etched on celluloid; showcasing a talent unbound by continent, genre, or race.
Calvin Lockhart was born Bert Cooper on October 18, 1934 and raised in Nassau Bahamas, moving to New York City at the tender age of 19. The story goes that during this time, he was so disturbed by people's fascination with his looks that he attempted to disfigure his face with scissors. He later moved to London where many of his early films were produced, and would also become the place he called home for 13 years. The looks that he resented so much in his youth would come to work to his advantage; in 1971 he was declared "The World's Sexiest Man" by the British public. Much of his early work can not be seen on video in the U.S., though he worked extensively in America during the 1970's. His most memorable available work can be seen in 1973's Cotton Comes to Harlem opposite Cocoa Lounge Legend, Judy Pace and the Bill Cosby and Sidney Poitier comedies Uptown Saturday Night and Let's Do It Again in which he played characters "Silky Slim" and "Biggie Smalls" respectively, roles that later influenced members of the hip-hop community, most namely, the Notorious B.I.G.
Though Calvin Lockhart's appearances would diminish in number and acclaim over the years, he left an indelible mark in the hearts of filmgoers the world over. He is perhaps one of the most beautiful men of African descent ever to inhabit a film frame and beyond that, a captivating presence to watch onscreen.
Mr. Lockhart died March 29th, 2007 of complications from a stroke. He was reportedly filming a movie titled "Rain," one of his first screen roles in over 10 years. For Lockhart fans, the film may provide one last look at a man who was instrumental in opening doors for African American leading men. He will be truly missed.
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