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  1. #1
    Senior Member Country: Scotland julian_craster's Avatar
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    Obituary: Calvin Lockhart

    Actor in blaxploitation films and British film 'The Beast Must Die'



    Published: 11 April 2007

    The Independent



    Bert Cooper (Calvin Lockhart), actor: born Nassau, Bahamas 18 October 1934; four times married (two sons, one daughter); died New Providence, Bahamas 29 March 2007.



    A handsome actor with considerable range, the Bahamian-born Calvin Lockhart had a varied career which included stints in Britain, where he played Aaron the Moor in Titus Andronicus with the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1972 and the lead in the Amicus horror film The Beast Must Die, opposite Peter Cushing, in 1974.

    However, in the United States he was best known for his appearances in blaxploitation films such as Cotton Comes to Harlem (1970) and Melinda (1972), and two comedies directed by and starring Sidney Poitier, Uptown Saturday Night (1974) and Let's Do It Again (1975). In Let's Do It Again, Lockhart portrayed Biggie Smalls, a gangster whose name inspired one of the aliases subsequently used by the rapper Notorious B.I.G. In the mid-Eighties, Lockhart had a recurring role as Jonathan Lake in the television series Dynasty but he returned to the Bahamas after playing small roles in the David Lynch films Wild at Heart (1990) and Twin Peaks: fire walk with me (1992) and a Jamaican drug lord killed by the monstrous alien in the sci-fi thriller Predator 2 (1990).

    Born Bert Cooper in 1934, he was the youngest of eight children and left the Bahamas to study at the Cooper Union School of Engineering in New York in the early Fifties. Within a year, he had dropped out and was working as a carpenter and driving cabs while taking acting classes with Uta Hagen at the legendary Herbert Berghof studio. By 1960, Calvin Lockhart (as he became) had appeared in The Cool World by Ketti Frings and A Taste of Honey, the Shelagh Delaney play which had just opened on Broadway, with Tony Richardson directing and a mostly British cast (including Angela Lansbury and Joan Plowright) who encouraged him to try his luck in Europe.

    He moved to Italy, where he ran a restaurant and a theatre company and still found time to star in the comedy Venere Creola (directed by Lorenzo Ricciardi, 1961) before spending some time in Germany. Settling in the UK in the mid-Sixties, he found work in television plays of the "Thirty Minute Theatre" and "Wednesday Play" variety but became typecast in "ethnic" roles in films such as the action drama The Mercenaries and the thriller Nobody Runs Forever (both 1968).

    Still, Lockhart earned glowing reviews for his performance in the interracial romance Joanna, written and directed by Michael Sarne in 1968, which received a Golden Globe nomination in the United States the following year. By 1970, he was back in the US, excelling in the television movie Halls of Anger as a basketball player turned inner-city high-school vice-principal.

    In Cotton Comes to Harlem, Lockhart played the Rev Deke O'Malley, an evil preacher who falls foul of two black detectives, Godfrey Cambridge (Gravedigger Jones) and Raymond St Jacques (Coffin Ed Johnson) after swindling his congregation out of $87,000. In Melinda, he was Frankie J. Parker, a smooth-talking DJ intent on revenge after being framed by the mob for the murder of a woman fan but he spent most of 1972 in residence with the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford-upon-Avon. Lockhart took part in Trevor Nunn's bold project to stage the four Roman plays - Coriolanus, Julius Caesar, Antony and Cleopatra and Titus Andronicus - in historical order, rather than the order in which they were written.

    In 1974, he portrayed Tom Newcliffe, the game hunter, in the horror/werewolf mystery The Beast Must Die (directed by Paul Annett, with Peter Cushing and Michael Gambon). After appearing in the two Sidney Poitier-directed comedies, Lockhart became a blaxploitation fixture with parts in Honeybaby, Honeybaby (1974) and the TV series Get Christie Love! and Starsky and Hutch, as well as the lead in The Baron (1977) as the African-American trying to make a film with an all-black cast.

    In the Eighties, he appeared in the Broadway musical Reggae and in Coming to America, the Eddie Murphy comedy. He eventually moved back to the Bahamas.



    Pierre Perrone

  2. #2
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    I was shocked to hear this. The Beast Must Die is one of my alltime favourite Hammer/Amicus films - very camp!

  3. #3
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    I really like The Beast Must Die as well. The idea of ripping off Agatha Christie's And then there were None with werewolves is genius!



    I'm sorry to here of Mr Lockhart's death, but learning that his real name was Bert Cooper has quite made my day. Inappropriate, I know.

  4. #4
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    Calvin Lockhart appeared in two of my favourite tv dramas: the John Hopkins quartet TALKING TO A STRANGER (now reissued on DVD) and LIGHT BLUE, a memorable Wednesday Play about a Harlem jazz trumpeter doing one nighters in the north of England. He was a talented actor and a very cool dude.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Country: Scotland julian_craster's Avatar
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    Obituary

    Calvin Lockhart



    Bahamian classical actor, he took roles in the 'blaxploitation' films of the 1970s



    by Ronald Bergan

    Monday April 23, 2007

    The Guardian



    Until very recently, there were few black actors in a white-dominated society who were not faced with difficult choices and obstacles. The Bahamas-born Calvin Lockhart, who has died following complications from a stroke aged 72, was no exception. The handsome, charismatic Lockhart, who had classical acting training and who spoke French, German, Italian and Spanish, was mainly forced to take roles that he disliked.



    At the start of the 1970s, more than two decades after the birth of the modern civil rights movement, America's 20 million black citizens wanted a more positive media image of themselves. In the meantime, they had to settle for broad comedies and slick thrillers, labelled "blaxploitation". These films became more formulaic as the 1970s progressed - most of them were either "private detective takes on the mob" or "dealer becomes king of the pimps".



    According to Lockhart's widow, New York interior designer Jennifer Miles-Lockhart, her husband felt that he did not get enough dramatic roles with "meaning, content, which would make a statement. Calvin felt that he wanted to be somewhere where skin colour didn't matter, where he could do his craft freely, on a high level."

    Nevertheless, whatever the quality of the blaxploitation movies, they were directed by black directors and starred black actors, playing characters not seen from a white perspective. Lockhart appeared in one of the first black - as distinct from noir - thrillers, Cotton Comes to Harlem (1970), directed by Ossie Davis. He was the swindler-cum-preacher Reverend Deke O'Malley, who has conned $87,000 from the "good folks" for his phony Back to Africa movement.

    Lockhart played suave gangsters called Silky Slim and Biggie Smalls respectively in Sidney Poitier's Uptown Saturday Night (1974) and Let's Do It Again (1975). At least, Melinda (1972), directed by Hugh Robertson, the first African-American editor to be nominated for an Oscar, gave Lockhart the chance to play a super-hero, an egotistic disc jockey who has to take on the mobsters who had murdered his girlfriend.

    In the same year, Lockhart was invited to join the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford-upon-Avon, where he appeared in several plays, notably Buzz Goodbody's production of Titus Andronicus in which, as Aaron the Moor, he asks "is black so base a hue?" and launches into a defence of his colour.

    Lockhart had already spent almost five years in England (1965-1970), where he had appeared in TV dramas, such as the Wednesday Play and five British films in 1968: A Dandy in Aspic, The Mercenaries, Only When I Larf, Nobody Runs Forever and Joanna. In the last, directed by Mike Sarne, which also featured Donald Sutherland as a dying English aristocrat, Lockhart, as a nightclub owner was one of the first actors to dent a cinematic taboo with a black-white love scene with the heroine, Genevieve Waite.

    Sarne then cast him as the effete Irving Amadeus in the disastrous Myra Breckinridge (1970), and he played a pimp in John Boorman's Leo the Last (1970), before returning to the US to star in Halls of Anger, (also 1970). The setting of this was an all-black blackboard jungle which, because of the national integration plan, has to accept 60 white students who suffer the kind of racism that usually affects black people. However, Lockhart, cast as a teacher, solves all the school's problems by his liberal approach. Despite the theme he disliked making the film and walked off the set more than once.

    Lockhart, born Bert Cooper, the youngest of eight children, had left the Bahamas aged 19 to study engineering at New York, but became involved in a YMCA theatre group, and studied with the legendary drama coach Uta Hagen. He made his Broadway debut, taking over from Billy Dee Williams, in Shelagh Delaney's A Taste of Honey, in the role of the sailor who gets the white girl (Joan Plowright) pregnant. He returned to the stage only rarely between Broadway and his stint with the RSC.

    During his second stay in England, Lockhart was given one of his best film roles in The Beast Must Die (1974) as the millionaire owner of a country estate where he has gathered a number of people, one of whom he hopes to reveal as a werewolf. It was enjoyable, camp nonsense, but it did feature a rich, successful black man, whose colour is never mentioned, a rare phenomenon in films of the early 1970s. Another potentially interesting part was in The Baron (1977), where Lockhart played a struggling African-American film-maker who turns to the underworld to raise money. However, the film descended into many of the cliches of blaxploitation gangster movies.

    A couple of years later, Lockhart suffered a heart attack brought on by the news that his son from a former marriage (he was married four times) had lost the use of his legs from jumping under a train. But he returned to work, albeit in a minor capacity. He was in seven episodes as Jonathan Lake in TV's Dynasty (1985-86), was the head of a Jamaican voodoo-gang in Predator 2 (1990), and had small roles in David Lynch's Wild at Heart (1990) and Twin Peaks (1992).

    In 1979, Calvin met Jennifer Miles in New York, and they had a son in 1981. They married in 2006: she survives him, as do his other two sons and a daughter.





    · Calvin Lockhart (Bert Cooper), actor, born September 18 1934; died March 29 2007

  6. #6
    Senior Member Country: Scotland julian_craster's Avatar
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    From The Times

    April 25, 2007



    Calvin Lockhart

    Actor with a diverse career on stage and on the European screen who later made his mark in ‘blaxploitation’ films



    Calvin Lockhart was an important and perhaps underrated figure in African-American popular culture. He played the charismatic conman-preacher in Cotton Comes to Harlem (1970), the film for which the term “blaxploitation” was originally coined, and his character’s phrase “Black enough for ya?” became the catch-phrase of a generation of young, black Americans. The rapper the Notorious B.I.G. took his original name of Biggie Smalls from another Lockhart character, the gangster he played in Let’s Do It Again (1975).

    Strikingly handsome, with classical features and a strong voice, Lockhart is best known for his appearances in hip, urban, American thrillers and comedies, but he had a surprisingly diverse career and first made his mark in England, where he starred in the interracial romance Joanna (1968) and had a spell with the Royal Shakespeare Company in the 1970s.

    In 1974 he was a sufficiently big star to appear ahead of Peter Cushing on the credits of the horror film The Beast Must Die. It featured a group of people shut up in a remote hunting lodge and introduced the notion of the “werewolf break”, so the audience could discuss which one was the werewolf. The intrigue would have been undermined in the US, where the film appeared on video as Black Werewolf, were it not for the fact that the werewolf was one of the white characters.

    Such was the cachet of “blax-ploitation” as a genre by this time that companies wanted to use the word black in titles whenever they could. By the end of the decade, however, Lockhart’s star was fading, and his most notable screen credit in the 1980s was a recurring role in the soap Dynasty.

    The youngest of eight children, he was born Bert Cooper on the Bahamas in 1934. In his late teens he went to New York to study engineering and ended up driving a taxi. Reputedly, it was a chance meeting in his taxi with playwright Ketti Frings that led to his Broadway debut in 1960 in the drama The Cool World — though he had already studied with the legendary German-born actress and teacher Uta Hagen.

    He went on to appear with Joan Plowright in the Broadway adaptation of Shelagh Delaney’s A Taste of Honey (1960-61), playing a sailor who has a relationship with a white English girl. After working with Joan Plowright, Angela Lansbury and the director Tony Richardson, he was encouraged to try his luck in Europe and gained further stage and screen experience in Italy, where he also ran a restaurant, before coming to England in the mid1960s.

    British television drama was beginning to reflect the changing nature of postwar society, with more roles for black actors, and he appeared in John Hopkins’s Talking to a Stranger (1966), for which Judi Dench won a Bafta, and several instalments on Thirty-Minute Theatre and The Wednesday Play. On the big screen he was suddenly all over the place in 1968, with appearances in A Dandy in Aspic, The Mercenaries, Only When I Larf, Salt and Pepper, Nobody Runs Forever and a lead role in Joanna.

    In the US he starred in Halls of Anger (1970), a worthy drama about bussing white students into inner-city black schools, had a leading role as a pimp in John Boorman’s Leo the Last (1970), and then had a huge and continuing impact in Ossie Davis’s Cotton Comes to Harlem, as the Rev Deke O’Malley, who is supposedly raising money for a Back-to-Africa movement.

    An adaptation of a Chester Himes novel, it featured a cast of characters, both good and bad, defiantly and proudly black, seen through black eyes and talking their own language. The film appealed to white audiences too. Subsequently, white film-makers would jump on the “blaxploitation” bandwagon, while Lockhart’s career moved in a different direction.

    He played Aaron in the 1972-73 RSC production of Titus Andronicus. In Uptown Saturday Night (1974) and Let’s Do It Again he co-starred with Sidney Poitier and Bill Cosby, who were regarded as the antithesis of “blaxploitation”. In Dynasty (1985-86) he played Jonathan Lake, who has a romance with Diahann Carroll.

    He had supporting roles in Coming to America (1988), Wild at Heart(1990) and Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992), and then effectively retired to the Bahamas, though he recently worked on a local film, Rain, due out later this year.

    He married for the fourth time in 2006.



    Calvin Lockhart, actor, was born on September 18, 1934. He died after a stroke on March 29, 2007, aged 72

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