Top 50 Most Popular Old Black Actors

AishwaryaAishwarya-Posted June 15, 2022

Most Popular Old Black Actors!


In Hollywood, black actors have made major contributions in all genres. Not all their work garnered recognition in the form of awards or nominations.


However, they did not get discouraged. Throughout the history of Hollywood, black actors have faced a significant lack of opportunities.


Not many meaty characters were created for them, and the characters that had substance were mostly created for white people.


The colored actors were left with supporting roles or the roles of helps, bystanders, or killed off at the start.


Despite the dismal picture, there are many outstanding performers and talented actors who weathered the storm and managed to shine through.


There are names like Sydney Poitier, Dorothy Dandrige, Rupert Crosse, etc. that we know of. But, there are many more unsung stars who never received due recognition.


With this list, ENTOIN aims to shine a light on all the fabulous stars and performers in Hollywood who withstood the test of time.


This is a list of old black actors who are popular and talented till today. I have tried to include as many recent actors as possible so that it is easy to recognize them.


So here is the list of the 50 most popular old black actors in Hollywood.



50. Reginald VelJohnson


Reginald VelJohnson


Entity Detail
Date of Birth August 16, 1952
Place of Birth Queens, New York, USA
Height 1.73 m
Debut year 1979
Debut Movie/ TV series When Hell Freezes Over, I'll Skate


Reginald VelJohnson is a comedy actor known for mostly playing cops. His most famous characters were in the TV series Family Matters, as Carl Winslow, and in Die Hard and Die Hard 2, as Detective Al Powell.


Originally, Reginald VelJohnson’s last name was Johnson. He changed Reginald Vel Johnson to the current spelling to add uniqueness to the name.


He earned his Bachelors in Fine Arts from New York University and joined the Black/Hispanic Shakespeare Company. He learned a lot there with fellow actors like Morgan Freeman, CCH Pounder, etc.


His recent appearances have been in Turner & Hooch (TV Series), Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Pride & Prejudice: Atlanta. Hitting The Breaks, Ray Donovan, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, etc.



49. James Pickens Jr.


James Pickens Jr.


Entity Detail
Date of Birth October 26, 1954
Place of Birth Cleveland, Ohio, USA
Height 1.83 m
Debut year 1983
Debut Movie/ TV series Saturday Night Live


James Pickens Jr. is an actor who is best known for his role as Dr. Richard Webber in Grey’s Anatomy, Deputy Director Alvin Kersh in the sci-fi series X-Files, and Chuck Mitchell in Roseanne.


James Pickens Jr. earned a Bachelor's degree in Fine Arts from Bowling Green State University, where he participated in theater plays.


Later, he also worked in plays like A Raisin in the Sun, A Soldier’s Play, etc., with Denzel Washington and Samuel L. Jackson. The most memorable roles of Pickens have been in Station 19, Beverly Hills 90210, Ghosts of Mississippi, Dangerous Minds, Bulworth, The Practice, NYPD Blue, Seattle Grace: Message of Hope, 42, etc.



48. Fred Williamson


Fred Williamson


Entity Detail
Date of Birth March 5, 1938
Place of Birth Gary, Indiana, USA
Height 1.9 m
Debut year 1968
Debut Movie/ TV series Ironside


Fred Williamson was a professional football player before he became an actor. Williamson was an athlete since his high school days and participated in track and field.


He for a football scholarship to attend Northwestern University and his football career took off from there. However, his turn as an actor got him more fame than his sporting career.


He worked in crime thriller and blaxploitation films that were a hit during the 60s and 70s. The memorable performances of Fred Williamson are in Black Caesar, Hell Up in Harlem, The Hammer, Three The Hard Way, That Man Bolt, Star Trek: The Original Series, Soul Train, M*A*S*H*, etc.



47. Mario Van Peebles


Mario Van Peebles


Entity Detail
Date of Birth January 15, 1967
Place of Birth Mexico City, Mexico
Height 1.78 m
Debut year 1971
Debut Movie/ TV series Crosscurrent


Mario Van Peebles is the son of Melvin Van Peebles and Maria Marx. Van Peebles got his artistic inspiration and early learning from them.


He is a film director and actor like his father. Mario Van Peebles graduated from Colombia University with a degree in economics.


Van Peebles appeared as a child actor in a few films and music videos in 1968 and 1971. However, he made his full-time debut in 1981 with the Tv series, The Sophisticated Gents.


Van Peebles is well-remembered for his role in the New Jack City and USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage. Both of them were directed and starred in by Van Peebles.


He also directed 21 Jump Street between 1980 to 90, Roots, Empire, Sons of Anarchy, NCIS, etc.



46. Ossie Davis


Ossie Davis


Entity Detail
Date of Birth December 18, 1917
Place of Birth Cogdell, Georgia, USA
Height 1.89 m
Debut year 1950
Debut Movie/ TV series No Way Out


Ossie Davis was born Raiford Chatman Davis; the registration clerk misunderstood his name (R. C. Davis) as Ossie Davis, and it stuck with him.


Davis experienced racism and discrimination at the hands of the KKK all through his childhood. This made him a staunch crusader of civil rights.


After serving in World War II, Ossie Davis began his film career in Sidney Poitier's film No Way Out.


As he refused to be cast in stereotypical roles as a butler or house help, Ossie Davis decided to write, direct and star in his movies.


The most memorable movies that he made include Gordon's War, Black Girl, Cotton Comes to Harlem, The Hill, The Cardinal,  Do The Right Thing, Jungle Fever, She Hates Me, Get on the Bus, Malcolm X, Dr. Dolittle, etc.



45. Avery Brooks


Avery Brooks


Entity Detail
Date of Birth October 2, 1948
Place of Birth Evansville, Indiana, USA
Height 1.85 m
Debut year 1984
Debut Movie/ TV series American Playhouse


Avery Brooks is an actor, director, singer, etc. He was the son of Eva Lydia Crawford and Samuel Brooks, both of whom were musicians.


In fact, Eva Lydia was the first African American woman to earn a Master's degree in music from Northwestern University.


Avery Brooks himself was the first Black man to earn a Master's degree in fine arts from Rutgers University.


Later, Brooks starred in iconic roles like Captain Benjamin Sisko on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Hawk on Spenser: For Hire and A Man Called Hawk, Dr. Bob Sweeney in American History X, etc.


Brooks earned a nomination at the Saturn Awards, three NAACP Image Awards, etc. He was inducted into the  College of Fellows of the American Theater and awarded the William Shakespeare Award.



44. Robert Wisdom


Robert Wisdom


Entity Detail
Date of Birth September 14, 1953
Place of Birth Washington, District of Columbia, USA
Height 1.85 m
Debut year 1990
Debut Movie/ TV series The Bill


Robert Ray Wisdom is an American actor. His parents were Jamaican immigrants, and Wisdom was a track and field star in high school.


He graduated from Columbia University before following his dream to act. Robert Wisdom starred in the  HBO series, The Wire as  Howard "Bunny" Colvin.


Later, he also worked in Prison Break as Norman ’Lechero’ St James and as Harold Conway in Vacation Friends.


The film and TV credits of Wisdom include Hellraiser: Bloodline, Face/Off, Poltergeist: Legacy, Cracker: Mind Over Murder, Barbershop 2: Back in Business, etc.



43. Clarke Peters


Clarke Peters


Entity Detail
Date of Birth April 7, 1952
Place of Birth New York City, New York, USA
Height 1.79 m
Debut year 1978
Debut Movie/ TV series The Music Machine


Clarke Peters was born Peter Clarke, and he was interested in acting on stage since he was 12. After completing high school, he went to Paris and later England to work on stage.


He appeared in West End plays like  Blues in the Night, Porgy and Bess, The Witches of Eastwick, Chicago, Chess, etc.


While in the UK, he changed his name to Clarke Peters for his Equity card. In the US, however, he faced legal troubles for not drafting for the Vietnam War.


He vehemently opposed fighting against Vietnam as they did nothing to harm America. Later in his career, Peters starred in films Endgame, John Wick, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Harriet, Da 5 Bloods, etc.


He also worked in the TV series, The Wire, Treme, etc.



42. Frankie Faison


Frankie Faison


Entity Detail
Date of Birth June 10, 1949
Place of Birth Newport News, Virginia, USA
Height 1.88 m
Debut year 1974
Debut Movie/ TV series Great Performances


Frankie Faison is an actor who worked in films, TV, and stage play with great proficiency. Faison did his Masters in Fine Arts from NYU’s Tisch School of Acting.


Later, he went on to act on stage in Fences, King Lear, etc. and even earned a Tony Award nomination.


The most memorable performances of Frankie Faison have been in the Hannibal Lecter franchise, Banshee, The Wire, Coming to America, True Colors, One Life to Live, The Good Wife, The Thomas Crown Affair, Do The Right Thing, White Chick, Adam, etc.



41. Bill Duke


Bill Duke


Entity Detail
Date of Birth February 26, 1943
Place of Birth Poughkeepsie, New York, USA
Height 1.94 m
Debut year 1972
Debut Movie/ TV series ABC Afterschool Specials


Bill Duke is an imposing actor with a towering height of 6ft 4ins. He is a film actor and director who generally appears in roles that involve law enforcement.


He was always interested in theatre, but with his brilliant academic records, the Dean of Dutchess Community College offered him a personal check to study medicine at Boston University.


The love for acting prevailed in the end, and Bill Duke did his BA in English. The most recognizable roles of Bill Duke have been in Commando, Predator, Exit Wounds, American Gigolo, No Man's Land, Bird on a Wire, Menace II Society, Payback, Mandy, Black Lightning, Hill Street Blues, Miami Vice, etc.



40. Michael Dorn


Michael Dorn


Entity Detail
Date of Birth December 9, 1952
Place of Birth Luling, Texas, USA
Height 1.9 m
Debut year 1965
Debut Movie/ TV series Days of Our Lives


Michael Dorn will forever be remembered for his role as Lt. Commander Worf on the USS Starship Enterprise. Dorn has appeared in the most number of Star Trek: Next Generation episodes and movies and also starred in Star Trek Deep Space Nine.


Michale Dorn graduated from Pasadena City College with a degree in Radio and television production. He worked in a few TV series like CHiPs, Rocky, Ali, Jagged Edges, Santa Clause 2, Shade, Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause, Ted 2, etc.


Apart from the Star Trek film and TV franchises, Michael Dorn is an aviation enthusiast. He has a pilot's license and has substantial flight experience.


He owned several jet aircraft like a Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star, a North American F-86 Sabre, and currently owns a North American Sabreliner.



39. Fayard Nicholas


Fayard Nicholas


Entity Detail
Date of Birth October 20, 1914
Place of Birth Mobile, Alabama, USA
Debut year 1932
Debut Movie/ TV series Pie, Pie, Blackbird


Fayard Nicholas was a dancer, choreographer, and actor in 1940s Hollywood films. He and his brother, Harold Nicholas formed the dance duo called the Nicholas Brothers and performed extensively.


They were well-known for their unique style of tap dance that suited jazz music and included acrobatics. Nicholas started his career at eighteen with a successful gig at the Cotton Club in New York alongside his brother.


Slowly, his fame spread, and they performed on Broadway and on the London stage as well. Fayard Nicholas starred in Hollywood musicals like An All-Colored Vaudeville Show, Stormy Weather, The Pirate, Hard Four, Down Argentine Way, Sun Valley Serenade, Orchestra Wives, etc.



38. Clifton Powell


Clifton Powell


Entity Detail
Date of Birth March 16, 1956
Place of Birth Washington, District of Columbia, USA
Height 1.8 m
Debut year 1981
Debut Movie/ TV series Ephraim McDowell's Kentucky Ride


Clifton Powell is an American actor known for his supporting roles in films. He has appeared in supporting roles in Ray, Menace II Society, Dead Presidents, Why Do Fools Fall in Love, Rush Hour, Next Friday, Friday After Next, Woman Thou Art Loosed, etc.


Clifton Powell was nominated for the NAACP Image Award for his supporting role in Ray. He also acted in Tv series like Roc, The Sinbad Show, South Central,  Simon, Ryan Caulfield: Year One, Army Wives, Saints & Sinners, The Family Business, American Soul, etc.



37. Clarence Williams III


Clarence Williams III


Entity Detail
Date of Birth August 21, 1939
Place of Birth New York City, New York, USA
Height 1.8 m
Debut year 1959
Debut Movie/ TV series Pork Chop Hill


Clarence Williams III was born into an artistic family. His grandparents were Clarence Williams (jazz composer) and Eva Taylor (singer-actress), and his father was Clarence Williams Jr, a musician and composer.


Clarence Williams III also started performing on Broadway after finishing his two-year service as the paratrooper of the 506th Infantry of the 101st Airborne Division.


He worked on stage in The Long Dream, Walk in Darkness, Slow Dance on the Killing Ground, King John, etc.


His film and TV credits include The Mod Squad, Half Baked, The General’s Daughter, Reindeer Games, Lee Daniels: The Butler, Purple Rain, 52 Pick-Up, Tales from the Hood, Hoodlum,  Life, American Gangster, etc.



36. Bill Nunn


Bill Nunn


Entity Detail
Date of Birth October 20, 1953
Place of Birth Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
Height 1.92 m
Debut year 1981
Debut Movie/ TV series Sharky's Machine


William Goldwyn Nunn III was famous as Bill Nunn. He worked on stage, in films and TV shows with great success.


His stage performances include the August Wilson play, Fences. Bill Nunn appeared in TV series like  The Job, Randy and The Mob, A raisin in THe Sun, etc.


His memorable film roles were in Do The Right Thing, Regarding Henry, Things To Do In Denver, Spider-Man franchise by Sam Raimi, etc.



35. Bernie Mac


Bernie Mac


Entity Detail
Date of Birth October 5, 1957
Place of Birth Chicago, Illinois, USA
Height 1.89 m
Debut year 1992
Debut Movie/ TV series Mo' Money


Bernard Jeffrey McCullough is popular as Bernie Mac. He was one of America’s most respected comedians and actors. He appeared in many successful films and TV series like Ocean’s Eleven, The Bernie Mac Show, The Original Kings of Comedy, etc.


Bernie Mac began his career in Chicago as a stand-up comedian. He worked alongside other black comedians like Steve Harvey, Cedric, The Entertainer and DL Hughley to create comedy specials.


The other notable performances of Barnie Mac have been in Mo’ Money, Booty Call, Friday, B*A*P*S, Life, The Players Club, Head of State, Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, Bad Santa, Guess Who, Pride, Soul Men, Transformers, Old Dogs, and Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa.



34. Ernie Hudson


Ernie Hudson


Entity Detail
Date of Birth December 17, 1945
Place of Birth Benton Harbor, Michigan, USA
Height 1.83 m
Debut year 1976
Debut Movie/ TV series Leadbelly


Ernest Lee Hudson is an American actor with a Masters in Fine Arts from Yale School of Drama. He enrolled at Wayne State University to learn acting and writing skills.


Hudson worked temporarily at the Concept East Theater Company and later set up the Actors’ Ensemble Theater. Ernie Hudson is famous for his role in the Ghostbuster series of films, where he played Winston Zeddemore.


He also starred in The Crow,  Leviathan, Airheads, The Basketball Diaries, Congo, Miss Congeniality, etc. On TV, Hudson appeared in Oz,  St. Elsewhere, The Last Precinct, 10-8: Officers on Duty, Desperate Housewives, Law & Order, Transformers: Prime, Franklin & Bash, Grace and Frankie, L.A.'s Finest, etc.



33. Wesley Snipes


Wesley Snipes


Entity Detail
Date of Birth July 31, 1962
Place of Birth Orlando, Florida, USA
Height 1.75 m
Debut year 1984
Debut Movie/ TV series All My Children


Wesley Snipes is an actor, producer and martial artist. Snipes practiced Shotokan Karate from an early age and earned his fifth dan black belt in it and a second dan black belt in Hapkido.


Accordingly, he acted in many action thrillers and crime movies that suit his skill set. Wesley Snipes has worked in major blockbusters like the Blade film series,  New Jack City, White Men Can't Jump, The Waterdance, Passenger 57, Rising Sun, Demolition Man, To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar, The One Night Stand, U. S. Marshals, The Expendables 3, Coming 2 America, etc.



32. Djimon Hounsou


Djimon Hounsou


Entity Detail
Date of Birth April 24, 1964
Place of Birth Cotonou, Benin
Height 1.87 m
Debut year 1990
Debut Movie/ TV series Without You I'm Nothing


Djimon Hounsou is a Beninese- American model and actor. He was born in the French colony of Benin and moved to France at 12 years of age.


Once, he met a fashion photographer and a fashion designer who encouraged him to become a model. So, Hounsou became a French model in 1987 and later moved to the USA.


After modeling for a while, Hounsou appeared in music videos, and this opened the gates to acting. He starred in films, including Without You I'm Nothing, Amistad, Gladiator, In America, Blood Diamond, etc.


All of these were highly praised, and he was nominated for an Oscar for the last two films. The recent movies of Djimon Hounsou are Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain Marvel, Shazam, Constantine, Aquaman, and Shazam! Fury of the Gods, etc.



31. Damon Wayans


Damon Wayans


Entity Detail
Date of Birth September 4, 1960
Place of Birth New York City, New York, USA
Height 1.88 m
Debut year 1984
Debut Movie/ TV series Beverly Hills Cop


Damon Wayans is one of the Wayans brothers and from the infamous Wayans family of entertainers. He is an actor, director, producer, and writer.


He did stand-up comedy, sketch comedy, and scriptwriting for some of the best TV shows and movies. Wayans starred in a small role in Beverly Hills Cops and was hired by Saturday Night Live as a cast member.



30. Garrett Morris


Garrett Morris


Entity Detail
Date of Birth February 1, 1937
Place of Birth New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
Height 1.73 m
Debut year 1960
Debut Movie/ TV series CBS Repertoire Workshop


Garrett Morris is a black actor, comedian and singer. He graduated from Dillard University and attended the Juilliard School of music.


As Garrett Morris was a choir singer in the church, his music knowledge and experience helped him find his place in Hollywood.


Morris began as a cast member in the Saturday Night Live sketch comedy shows. She also worked in TV series like The Jeffersons, The Jamie Foxx Show, 2 Broke Girls, Coneheads, Cooley High, Car Wash, Census Taker, Ant-Man, How High, etc.



29. Brock Peters


Brock Peters


Entity Detail
Date of Birth July 2, 1927
Place of Birth New York City, New York, USA
Height 1.83 m
Debut year 1954
Debut Movie/ TV series Carmen Jones


BrocK Peters was born as George Fisher to Senegalese parents. From the age of 10, Peters was interested in show business and learned to sing and play the violin.


He was more talented with his voice and took up musicals in the theater. The most remembered roles played by Brock Peters have been in To Kill a Mockingbird, Porgy and Bess, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Wars, Soylent Green, Carmen Jones, The Pawnbroker, Major Dundee, Lost In The Stars, The Wild Thornberrys, The Importance of Being Earnest, etc.


Peters also did voice acting in animated films like DC Animated, Batman: The Animated Series, Galtar and the Golden Lance, SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron, etc.



28. Ving Rhames


Ving Rhames


Entity Detail
Date of Birth May 12, 1959
Place of Birth New York City, New York, USA
Height 1.8 m
Debut year 1985
Debut Movie/ TV series Go Tell It on the Mountain


Ving Rhames was born as Irving Rameses Rhames, but while at the State University of New York, Stanley Tucci shortened Irving to Ving Rhames, and the name stuck with him.


Later, Rhames transferred to Juilliard School and graduated in 1983. The most famous roles of Ving Rhames have been in Pulp Fiction, Mission Impossible film franchise,  Jacob's Ladder, Dave, Striptease, Con Air, Only in America, Out of Sight, Entrapment, Bringing Out the Dead, Dawn of the Dead, etc.


Rhames also did voice work for animated films like Lilo & Stitch, Stitch: The Movie, Leroy and Stitch, etc.



27. Dennis Haysbert


Dennis Haysbert


Entity Detail
Date of Birth June 2, 1954
Place of Birth San Mateo, California, USA
Height 1.95 m
Debut year 1978
Debut Movie/ TV series Lou Grant


Dennis Haysbert is an American actor. He has a staggering height of 6 ft 4 inches, which made him a good candidate for an athletic scholarship to university.


However, Haysbert turned down the scholarship and opted to study acting at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. After graduation, Haysbert worked in TV series like Lou Grant, Growing Pains, Laverne & Shirley, The A-Team, Night Court, Dallas, The Incredible Hulk, Magnum, P. I. etc. But the role that gained him fame was that of a baseball player in the Major League film franchise.


Dennis Haysbert starred in other notable shows like Absolute Power, 24, The Unit, Lucifer, Love Field, Heat, Waiting to Exhale, Far from Heaven, Incorporated,.etc,



26. Ice-T




Entity Detail
Date of Birth February 16, 1958
Place of Birth Newark, New Jersey, USA
Height 1.84 m
Debut year 1983
Debut Movie/ TV series Fame


Tracy Lauren Marrow is the birth name of Ice-T. He is an American rapper, songwriter, actor and producer. In high school, Marrow enjoyed reading Iceberg Slim novels and described them to his friends.


Later, they gave him the name Ice-T. After school, Marrow served in the armed forces for two years before he joined Hollywood.


Returning from service, Ice-T became a rapper and a musician, releasing records and forming record labels. While his music career was successful, Ice-T began acting and starred in New Jack City, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Tank Girl, Surviving The Game, Ice Loves Coco, Breakin’, Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo, Rappin', etc.



25. Nat King Cole


Nat King Cole


Entity Detail
Date of Birth March 17, 1919
Place of Birth Montgomery, Alabama, USA
Height 1.84 m
Debut year 1941
Debut Movie/ TV series Citizen Kane


Nathaniel Adams Coles was better known by his stage name Nat King Cole. He was a singer, songwriter, jazz pianist, and actor par excellence.


He gained nationwide fame and recognition for his jazz music. He also performed in musicals, TV and films. He was the first African American artist to host American TV shows, and made over 100 chart-topping songs with his jazz ensemble.


The notable films of Nat King Cole include Citizen Kane, Grumpy Old Men, Cat Ballou, Watchmen, Night of the Quarter-Moon, St. Louis Blues, etc.


Nat King Cole was inducted into the Alabama Hall of Fame, Rock and Roll of Fame and the Late Songwriters Hall of Fame. He was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1990.



24. Keith David


Keith David


Entity Detail
Date of Birth June 4, 1956
Place of Birth New York City, New York, USA
Height 1.88 m
Debut year 1979
Debut Movie/ TV series Disco Godfather


Keith David is well known for his deep and resonant voice. He is an actor and a producer with over 300 performances on stage, television, and in movies.


He is a highly respected name in the black film fraternity. Some of the notable roles of Keith David include The Thing, Platoon, They Live, Dead Presidents, Armageddon, There's Something About Mary, Requiem for a Dream, Pitch Black, Barbershop, Crash, The Chronicles of Riddick, Cloud Atlas, etc.


David’s iconic voice was lent to animated characters like Halo, Gargoyles, Planescape: Torment, Todd McFarlane's Spawn, Mass Effect, The Princess and The Frog, Dissidia Final Fantasy, Catwoman, etc.



23. Joe Morton


Joe Morton


Entity Detail
Date of Birth October 18, 1947
Place of Birth Harlem, New York City, New York, USA
Height 1.75 m
Debut year 1970
Debut Movie/ TV series Bracken's World


Joe Morton is an accomplished actor who has worked extensively on stage, television and in movies. He trained in drama at Hofstra University before he started his career.


Morton debuted with Broadway shows Hair and appeared in Salvation, Raisin, etc. He even received a Tony Award nomination for the last play.


The most memorable works of Joe Morton have been Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Of Mice and Men, Speed, Apt Pupil, What Lies Beneath, Ali, Paycheck, Stealth, American Gangster, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Justice League, etc.


Morton was nominated for a Tony Award, and won the Primetime Emmy Award for Scandal. He also performed in the TV series Eureka.



22. Yaphet Kotto


Yaphet Kotto


Entity Detail
Date of Birth November 15, 1939
Place of Birth New York City, New York, USA
Height 1.93 m
Debut year 1964
Debut Movie/ TV series Nothing But a Man


Yaphet Kotto was born Frederick Samuel Kotto, and he changed it to reflect his father’s name. Yaphet Kotto was interested in acting from the age of 15 years.


He worked in the Actors Mobile Theater Studio and performed Shakespearean plays. Later, he joined the Actors Studio in New York.


The Tv and film roles of Kotto are Homicide: Life on The Streets, Alien, The Running Man, Live and Let Die, Midnight Run, The Thomas Crown Affair, Raid on Entebbe, Hawaii Five-O, Brubaker, For Love and Honor, Desperado, Eye of the Tiger, etc.



21. Louis Gossett Jr.


Louis Gossett Jr.


Entity Detail
Date of Birth May 27, 1936
Place of Birth Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA
Height 1.95 m
Debut year 1957
Debut Movie/ TV series The Big Story


Louis Gossett Jr is a celebrated actor who has won acclaim for his film roles, stage performances and TV roles.


He decided to forego his basketball scholarship to NYU in favor of a career in theatre. He auditioned for the Broadway play Take a Giant Step and won the part.


Gossett appeared on Broadway in A Raisin In The Sun, The Blacks, The Zulu and the Zeyda, etc. His film and Tv credits include A Raisin in the Sun, The Landlord, Skin Game, Travels with My Aunt, The Laughing Policeman, The White Dawn, The Deep, Jaws 3-D, Enemy Mine, The Principal, the Iron Eagle series, etc.


Throughout his career, Louis Gossett Jr. earned many accolades like an Oscar for his role in An Officer and A Gentleman, a Primetime Emmy for Roots, etc.



20. Bill Cosby


Bill Cosby


Entity Detail
Date of Birth July 12, 1937
Place of Birth Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Height 1.83 m
Debut year 1966
Debut Movie/ TV series Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre


Bill Cosby is a highly celebrated black entertainer who won several Grammy Awards for comedy albums. He is the first black actor to win a Primetime Emmy Award for Lead Actor, and he continued to win more.


He also has Golden Globe Awards and nominations to his credit. Bill Cosby is a stand-up comedian, actor, writer, producer and more.


He starred in several hit movies like Uptown Saturday Night, Let’s Do it Again, California Suite, The Electric Company, The Bill Cosby Show, The Cosby Show, Kids Say the Darndest Things, and A Different World, etc.



19. Charles S. Dutton


Charles S. Dutton


Entity Detail
Date of Birth January 30, 1951
Place of Birth Baltimore, Maryland, USA
Height 1.75 m
Debut year 1985
Debut Movie/ TV series Cat's Eye


Carles S. Dutton is an actor and an amateur boxer. He dropped out of middle school to pursue boxing but was embroiled in a case of manslaughter and sentenced to jail.


In jail, he was introduced to drama, and he earned his degree in fine arts. Dutton starred in the Broadway play Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and earned a Tony nomination.


He also worked in The Piano Lesson before moving to films like Crocodile Dundee II, The Murder of Mary Phagan, Rudy, Aliens 3, etc.


His other film roles include the TV series Roc, Oz, Blind Faith, films, The Piano Lesson,  Menace II Society, A Time to Kill, Cookie's Fortune, Gothika, Legion, and more.



18. Carl Weathers


Carl Weathers


Entity Detail
Date of Birth January 14, 1948
Place of Birth New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
Height 1.87 m
Debut year 1973
Debut Movie/ TV series Magnum Force


Carl Weathers is an actor, TV director, and former American footballer. He was a very athletic boy in high school and participated in boxing, football, gymnastics, wrestling, etc.


After high school, he played college football as a linebacker and later got drafted into the NFL. Weathers made his film debut with Magnum Force and starred in the first four Rocky films in the franchise.


He appeared in Happy Gilmore, Little Nicky, Predator, Action Jackson, the Toy Story franchise, Street Justice, etc. He also worked in many television series like Arrested Development,  Star vs. the Forces of Evil, The Mandalorian, etc.



17. Billy Dee Williams


Billy Dee Williams


Entity Detail
Date of Birth April 6, 1937
Place of Birth New York City, New York, USA
Height 1.83 m
Debut year 1959
Debut Movie/ TV series The Last Angry Man


Billy Dee Williams is an actor and an artist. He graduated from the High School of Music & Art and earned a scholarship to the National Academy of Fine Arts & Designs.


Williams also won the Hallgarten Prize for painting. To fund his painting hobby, Williams took up acting jobs. Billy Dee Williams starred in the Star Wars franchise as Lando Calrissian.


He also starred in The Last Angry Man, Brian’s Song, Lady Sings The Blues, Mahogany, Nighthawks, The Lego Batman Movie, etc.


His television roles were in Gideon's Crossing; Dynasty, General Hospital: Night Shift; General Hospital, The Jeffersons, 227, The Hughleys, etc.



16. Don Cheadle


Don Cheadle


Entity Detail
Date of Birth November 29, 1964
Place of Birth Kansas City, Missouri, USA
Height 1.72 m
Debut year 1984
Debut Movie/ TV series 3 Days


Don Cheadle is a celebrated actor and producer in Hollywood. He won several awards and nominations throughout his career.


He won Grammy Awards, Golden Globe Awards, SAG Awards, etc., and got nominated for Academy Awards, BAFTAs, Primetime Emmy awards, etc.


The most prominent roles of Don Cheadle include The Rat Pack, Hotel Rwanda, Crash, Out of Sight, Traffic, the Ocean trilogy,  Devil in a Blue Dress, the Iron Man franchise, and the Avengers franchise, etc.


He also worked in TV series like Night Court, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Picket Fences, The Bernie Mac Show, ER, House of Lies, etc.



15. Delroy Lindo


Delroy Lindo


Entity Detail
Date of Birth November 18, 1952
Place of Birth Eltham, London, England, UK
Height 1.93 m
Debut year 1974
Debut Movie/ TV series Police Surgeon


Delroy Lindo is a British actor and producer who worked on stage, television, and films with great success. He won accolades like  NAACP Image Award, a Satellite Award, etc., and he was nominated for a Drama Desk Award, a Tony Award, two Critics' Choice Television Awards, three SAG Awards, etc.


Lindo starred in Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods, Malcolm X, Crooklyn, and Clockers. He also worked in Get Shorty, Believe, The Cider House Rules, Gone in 60 Seconds, The Chicago Code, The Good Fight, The Core, The Harder They Fall,  Anansi Boys, etc.



14. Danny Glover


Danny Glover


Entity Detail
Date of Birth July 22, 1946
Place of Birth San Francisco, California, USA
Height 1.92 m
Debut Year 1979
Debut Movie/TV Series B.J. and the Bear


Danny Glover is an actor, director, and civil rights activist. He was dedicated to the community and served the city administration on community development.


During that time, he joined acting classes at American Conservatory Theater and changed lanes to become an actor. Danny Glover is remembered for his role in the Lethal Weapon franchise.


He also starred in The Color Purple, Witness, Silverado, Hill Street Blues, Mandela, A Raisin in The Sun, etc.


The other notable roles of Danny Glover are Predator 2, Angels in the Outfield, Operation Dumbo Drop, A Rage in Harlem, Dreamgirls, Death at a Funeral, Sorry to Bother You, The Dead Don't Die, Lonesome Dove, Jumanji: The Next Level, etc.



13. Michael Clarke Duncan


Michael Clarke Duncan


Entity Detail
Date of Birth December 10, 1957
Place of Birth Chicago, Illinois, USA
Height 1.97 m
Debut year 1995
Debut Movie/ TV series Renegade


Michael Clarke Duncan was an American actor who earned an Academy Award nomination for his role in The Green Mile and appeared in many more hit movies.


He had a difficult childhood where he worked odd jobs to support his Hollywood dreams. He got his breakthrough with The Green Mile, which earned an Oscar nomination.


Michael Clarke Duncan also starred in Daredevil,  Spider-Man: The New Animated Series, Armageddon, The Whole Nine Yards, Planet of the Apes, The Scorpion King, Sin City, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, etc.


He also starred in the TV series Bones,  the animated series Kung Fu Panda, Brother Bear!, Green Lantern, etc.



12. Spike Lee


Spike Lee


Entity Detail
Date of Birth March 20, 1957
Place of Birth Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Height 17 m
Debut year 1986
Debut Movie/ TV series She's Gotta Have It


Shelton Jackson Lee is the birth name of Spike Lee. During his childhood, his mother gave him the nickname, and it stuck with him.


Spike Lee graduated with a Bachelor's in Mass Communication degree and later earned his Master's in Fine Arts from NYU’s Tisch School of Arts.


Spike Lee is a screenwriter, director, producer, and actor. This multi-talented artist makes movies with a common theme of race relations, color identities, etc.


His movies have been nominated for and won multiple awards like Academy Awards, BAFTAs, Golden Globes, NAACP Image awards, and more.


Here are a few of his most celebrated works: Do The Right Thing, Malcolm X, Mo' Better Blues, Jungle Fever, Crooklyn, Clockers, 25th Hour, Inside Man, Chi-Raq, BlacKkKlansman, Da 5 Bloods, She’s Gotta Have it, etc.



11. Rupert Crosse


Rupert Crosse


Entity Detail
Date of Birth November 29, 1927
Place of Birth New York City, New York, USA
Height 1.96 m
Debut year 1958
Debut Movie/ TV series Shadows


Rupert Crosse had a short but impactful career in Hollywood. After his father died, Crosse grew up with his grandparents in Nevis, West Indies.


He returned to the USA to serve in the army and enrolled in Bloomfield College for his bachelor's degree.


After college, Rupert Crosse started to study acting under John Cassavetes and also debuted in his film Shadows. Over 13 years, Crosse appeared in films like Too Late Blues, The Reivers, The Partners, Ride in the Whirlwind, Ben Casey, The Bill Cosby Show, Mision: Impossible (TV Series), etc.


Rupert Crosse was the first man of African American ethnicity to get an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor in a Supporting role.


He was the pioneer that opened the door for other black artists. Unfortunately, he died young, from lung cancer, at the age of 45.



10. Sammy Davis Jr.


Sammy Davis Jr.


Entity Detail
Date of Birth December 8, 1925
Place of Birth Harlem, New York City, New York, USA
Height 1.61 m
Debut year 1933
Debut Movie/ TV series Rufus Jones for President


Sammy Davis Jr. was famously known as one of the Rat Pack in Hollywood. Alongside crooners like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop, Sammy Davis Jr. performed many shows and TV specials.


Davis started performing from an age of three and performed in Vaudeville theater. He gained popularity after his performance at the Ciro’s nightclub after the 51st Academy Awards ceremony.


Sammy Davis Jr. went on to star on Broadway and worked in the film Ocean’s Eleven in 1960. Other popular roles of his are in Porgy & Bess, Pepe, Convicts 4, Robin and The 7 Hoods, etc.


Sammy Davis Jr. won the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and three nominations, one Emmy Award, four nominations, a Kennedy Center Honors, a Tony Award nomination, a Golden Globe Nomination, etc.



9. Laurence Fishburne


Laurence Fishburne


Entity Detail
Date of Birth July 30, 1961
Place of Birth Augusta, Georgia, USA
Height 1.83 m
Debut year 1972
Debut Movie/ TV series If You Give a Dance, You Gotta Pay the Band


Laurence Fishburne is an iconic actor known for such roles as Morpheus in the Matrix trilogy, Furious in Boyz n the Hood, Tyrone Miller in Apocalypse Now, Bowery King in the John Wick franchise, etc.


He has also worked extensively on stage. Through his fabulous performances, Laurence Fishburne has won three Primetime Emmy Awards, a Tony Awards, an Oscar nomination, five SAG nominations, and more.


The other notable roles of Fishburne have been in What's Love Got To Do With It, Deep Cover, The Color Purple, Mystic River, Contagion, Last Flag Flying, Man of Steel,  Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Ant-Man And The Wasp, etc.



8. Harry Belafonte


Harry Belafonte


Entity Detail
Date of Birth March 1, 1927
Place of Birth New York City, New York, USA
Height 1.85 m
Debut year 1953
Debut Movie/ TV series Bright Road


Harry Belafonte is the oldest black actor alive on this list today. He is not only an actor but also a singer, musician, and civil rights activist.


He was a close friend of Martin Luther King Jr. and worked closely with him during the civil rights movement, Anti-Apartheid Movement, etc.


Belafonte was the first solo artist to sell over a million records with his debut album Calypso. He popularized the West Indian singing style from Trinidad and Tobago across the USA.


Some of his most popular songs are The Banana Boat Song, Jamaica Farewell, etc. The most memorable films of Harry Belafonte’s career have been Carmen Jones, Islands in the Sun, Odds Against Tomorrow, BlackKKlansman, Bobby, Kansas City, etc.



7. Eddie Murphy


Eddie Murphy


Entity Detail
Date of Birth April 3, 1961
Place of Birth Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA
Height 1.78 m
Debut Year 1982
Debut Movie/TV Series 48 Hrs.


Eddie Murphy is one of the leading stand-up comics in the black community. He was also an actor and filmmaker.


He had a difficult childhood due to his mother’s ill-health, but he gathered all his experiences and used them as his comedy material.


Murphy was influenced by the style and jokes of Richard Pryor and used a similar theme of race relations and the difficulties of Black youth to make jokes.


He built his strong fan base before joining SNL with sketch comedy and films like 48 hrs, Dr. Dolittle, Coming to America, The Nutty Professor films, Bowfinger, etc.


Eddie Murphy also worked in films like Beverly Hills Cops franchise, Dolemite is my Name, Mulan, the Shrek series, etc.


He received the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor along with many more accolades.



6. Forest Whitaker


Forest Whitaker


Entity Detail
Date of Birth July 15, 1961
Place of Birth Longview, Texas, USA
Height 1.88 m
Debut Year 1982
Debut Movie/TV Series Making the Grade


Forest Whitaker is an actor and filmmaker. He has earned an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, a BAFTA,  two Screen Actors Guild Awards, etc.


Although, we will recognize him for his role in Black Panther. Whitaker is known for the preparation and study he invests in his characters.


We can see his efforts in TV series like Hill Street Blues, Different Strokes, Trapper John M. D, Fall Guy, etc.


He starred in Good Morning, Vietnam, The Crying Game, Platoon; Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, The Great Debaters, The Butler; Arrival, Respect, Panic Room, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, The Last King of Scotland, etc.



5. James Earl Jones


James Earl Jones


Entity Detail
Date of Birth January 17, 1931
Place of Birth Arkabutla, Mississippi, USA
Height 1.87 m
Debut Year 1952
  Debut Movie/TV Series Guiding Light


James Earl Jones is a name that reminds us of The Lion King. With his deep Basso Profundo voice, James Earl Jones gave his voice to Darth Vader, Mufasa, Emperor of the night, etc.


James Earl Jones started his film career with Dr. Strangelove, a Stanley Kubrick film. Later, he worked in Claudine, the Star Wars franchise, Lion King, Conan The Barbarian, Matewan, Coming to America, and its sequel, Field of Dreams, Hunt For Red October, etc.


Jones was also a theater actor who worked in Tony Award-winning plays like The Great White Hope, Fences, Driving Miss Daisy, The Best Man, The Gin Game, You Can’t Take It With You, etc.



4. Morgan Freeman


Morgan Freeman


Entity Detail
Date of Birth June 1, 1937
Place of Birth Memphis, Tennessee, USA
Height 1.88 m
Debut Year 1964
Debut Movie/TV Series The Pawnbroker


Morgan Freeman grew up in a very poor household where his grandmother was the only one to take care of him.


He worked many odd jobs while studying. Yet, he always loved theater and acting. Freeman halted his college to serve in the armed forces and returned in 1959.


After returning to the USA, he graduated from Los Angeles City College and worked in small and supporting roles in films till he got his in 1987 with Street Smart.


It also earned him his first Academy Award nomination. Morgan Freeman earned four Oscar nominations before he won the award for Millions Dollar Baby.


His nominated films are Street Smart, Driving Miss Daisy, Invictus, Shawshank Redemption, Se7en, Unforgiven, Amistad, etc.



3. Samuel L. Jackson


Samuel L. Jackson


Entity Detail
Date of Birth December 21, 1948
Place of Birth Washington, D.C., USA
Height 1.89 m
Debut year 1972
Debut Movie/ TV series Together For Days


Samuel L. Jackson gave life to many iconic characters over the years. Some of his most memorable films are Pulp Fiction, the Star Wars prequel trilogy, Rise of the Skywalker, the Avengers franchise, etc.


He has also been in other franchises like the XXX franchise, Jurassic Perk, the Incredibles franchise, etc. Jackson worked with great directors like Quentin Tarantino in Pulp Fiction, The Hateful Eight, Django Unchained, Inglourious Basterds, and Kill Bill Vol 2.


His other films are Shaft, Snakes on The Plane, Coach Carter, Chi-Raq, Kong Skull Island, etc. His most recent films include Hitman’s Bodyguard, Hitman’s Bodyguard’s Wife, Paws of Fury: Legend of Hank, etc.


Samuel L Jackson was nominated for an Oscar for Pulp Fiction, and in 2022, he won the honorary Academy Award.



2. Sidney Poitier


Sidney Poitier


Entity Detail
Date of Birth February 20, 1927
Place of Birth Miami, Florida, USA
Height 1.89 m
Debut year 1947
Debut Movie/ TV series Sepia Cinderella


Sidney Poitier was the first black actor to win an Academy Award for Best Actor. He became an inspiration to a generation of actors to come.


He was nominated for two more Oscars, with ten Golden Globes, six BAFTAs, etc. Sidney Poitier refused to act in films that typecast black people as help or as comedians or derogatory roles.


To help his cause, Poitier started to direct films that suited his narrative and theme. He was also a civil rights activist, and he was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.


He starred in acclaimed films like Porgy and Bess, The Defiant Ones, To Sir, with Love, Lilies of the Field, A Raisin in the Sun, In the Heat of the Night, A Patch of Blue, Guess Who's Coming To Dinner, etc.



1. Denzel Washington


Denzel Washington


Entity Detail
Date of Birth December 28, 1954
Place of Birth Mount Vernon, New York, USA
Height 1.85 m
Debut Year 1977
Debut Movie/TV Series Wilma


Denzel Washington is a two-time Oscar-winning actor who was nominated eight other times for the award. He has also won two Golden Globes, a SAG award, a Tony Award, etc.


Washington was nominated for a Grammy, two Primetime Emmys, seven SAG awards, etc. Denzel Washington performed on stage in plays like Coriolanus, Wings of the Morning, a Soldier’s Play, etc.


Later, he debuted on-screen and starred in series like A Soldier’s Story, Hard Lessons, Cry Freedom, The Mighty Quinn, Glory, For Queen and Country, etc.


Some of Denzel Washington’s most memorable roles include Roman J. Israel, Esq, The Tragedy of Macbeth, Much Ado About Nothing, Malcolm X, Pelican Brief, Philadelphia, The Hurricane, Training Day, Fences, and more.




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