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Percy Rodrigues Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (2)  | Trade Mark (3)  | Trivia (9)

Overview (3)

Born in Montréal, Québec, Canada
Died in Indio, California, USA  (kidney failure)
Birth NamePercy Rodrigues

Mini Bio (1)

A symbol of intelligence, leadership and moral strength in his various 1960s and 1970s roles, African-Canadian actor Percy Rodrigues rose in Hollywood stature during the late 1960s following a couple of earlier Broadway appearances. The serenely handsome, distinguished-looking actor also became notable for helping to break racial barriers on television and went on to become a voice of great distinction behind the camera.

Born to a Montreal couple on June 13, 1918 (some references list 1924 as his birth year), Percy was the oldest of four children and was of African and Portuguese descent. His father abandoned the family while he was a youth and Percy started working as a teenager to help provide for his family. By his late teens, he had become a professional boxer and started scouting out acting jobs at the same time. He joined Montreal's Negro Theater Guild and although winning a Canadian Drama Festival acting award in 1939, found job offers scarce, prompting him to work as a machinist and toolmaker for the next decade or so in order to supplement his income.

His distinctive, booming voice commanded early attention and he narrated several Canadian documentary shorts and appeared on television. He finally made his Broadway debut in middle age with Lillian Hellman's drama "Toys in the Attic" starring Jason Robards, Maureen Stapleton and Anne Revere. He followed that with a stronger role in "Blues for Mister Charlie" (1964) in which he shared the stage with African-American actors Al Freeman Jr., Lincoln Kilpatrick, Rosetta LeNoire, Otis Young and Tony nominee Diana Sands.

This attention eventually led to film and television offers and he settled permanently in Los Angeles. From the beginning, he sought out dignified roles following Sidney Poitier's emboldening Hollywood ascension and became one of just a small vanguard of 1960s black actors who was able to circumnavigate around such restrictive and negative stereotypes throughout most of his career. With just a brush of grey at his temples, he applied and projected quiet authority and inner calm to his many roles. He broke into American television with episodes of The Nurses (1965), Naked City (1958), The Wild Wild West (1965), Route 66 (1960) and (especially) Star Trek (1966) (as Commodore Stone) before making big news in 1968 for his casting as a neurosurgeon during the final season of the popular nighttime soap opera Peyton Place (1964). Co-starring with Ruby Dee as his wife, it was a breakthrough white-collar role for a black actor in a series. In the same year, Percy had an excellent supporting role in the critically-heralded film adaptation of Carson McCullers tender drama The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (1968), in which he carried his own story line as an embittered physician at odds with daughter Cicely Tyson.

Other imposing roles came his way in the form of detectives, mayors, commissioners, lawyers, politicians, scientists, captains, ambassadors, lieutenants and doctors, which seemed to be a growing specialty. More interesting roles came with the mini-movies The Old Man Who Cried Wolf (1970), Ring of Passion (1978), Angel Dusted (1981) and Roots: The Next Generations (1979). He also had recurring roles on Sanford (1980), the one-season extended series of "Sanford and Son" (minus the son) that again starred Redd Foxx, and in Benson (1979), in which he played a judge.

He continued to remain visible in the 1980s with episodes of The Fall Guy (1981), T.J. Hooker (1982) and Dynasty (1981), but after playing a doctor in the mini-movie whodunit Perry Mason: The Case of the Sinister Spirit (1987), Percy refrained from on-camera work and focused instead on his image as "The King of Voiceovers". Among his more notable vocal projects were his eerie voicings for the ads and trailers of the film Jaws (1975) and his narration of Michael Jackson's sci-fi musical Captain EO (1986) for Disney.

Percy's marriage to his first wife Alameda produced daughter Hollis and son Gerald. Following her death, he married Karen Cook in 2003. He died of kidney problems at age 89 at his home in Indio, California on September 6, 2007.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net

Spouse (2)

Karen Cook-Rodrigues (2003 - 6 September 2007) ( his death)
Almeada Batson (1943 - 13 October 1996) ( her death) ( 3 children)

Trade Mark (3)

Rich authoritative voice
Often played authority figures
Narrated almost one hundred trailers, mostly for famous horror and Hollywood movies in the 1970s and 1980s.

Trivia (9)

Narrated the theatrical trailers for Jaws (1975), Jaws 2 (1978) and Jaws 3-D (1983).
Solid, articulate, imposing African-Canadian actor who managed to avoid most of the standard stereotypes in Hollywood, usually playing white-collar roles such as a neurosurgeon on Peyton Place (1964).
Was an avid golfer, card player and jazz and blues enthusiast.
A couple of months before his death, Percy participated in "The Shark is Still Working", a new documentary on the tremendous cultural impact Jaws had on society. He recorded the voiceover for the new documentary's trailer as he had done on the movie Jaws (1975).
He was usually credited as "Percy Rodriguez" on account of a common misspelling.
Had two children from his first marriage: Hollis Rodrigues and Gerald Rodrigues.
His role as a neurosurgeon on the television series Peyton Place (1964) broke ground because he was cast as an authority figure when relatively few black actors were given such roles.
He was seen as a symbol of intelligence, leadership and moral strength during his various roles in the 1960s and 1970s. He is also well-known for helping to break the racial barriers on television.
Was only six years older than Cicely Tyson, who played his daughter in The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (1968).

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