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Old 11-19-2017, 03:03 AM   #1
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Unhappy Earle Hyman (Russell Huxtable) Has Died

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Old 11-19-2017, 12:34 PM   #2
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R.I.P. Earle. He was very fine actor and one of the best on TCS.
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Old 11-19-2017, 05:53 PM   #3
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Unhappy Confirmed (Earle Hyman 1926-2017)

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Earle Hyman, who broke racial stereotypes on Broadway and in Scandinavia in works by Shakespeare and Ibsen, but was perhaps best known to millions of Americans as Bill Cosby’s father on “The Cosby Show,” died on Friday in Englewood, N.J. He was 91.

His death was confirmed by Jordan Strohl, a representative for The Actors Fund.

Like many actors who love the stage, Mr. Hyman paid the bills with television work — soap operas and police dramas, “Hallmark Hall of Fame” and “The United States Steel Hour,” made-for-TV movies. Most memorably, he played Russell Huxtable, the father of Dr. Cliff Huxtable, in 40 episodes of Mr. Cosby’s hugely popular NBC situation comedy about an upper-middle-class black family from 1984 to 1992.

Although he was only 11 years older than Mr. Cosby, Mr. Hyman was an authoritative father figure, sometimes reciting Shakespeare at length — in scenes especially tailored to Mr. Hyman’s classical talents — when sage advice was required for his son.

But in a stage career that bridged oceans, languages and racial sensibilities, he also played the traditionally white roles of Hamlet, Macbeth and Lear in New York and London, and the black roles of Othello, the Emperor Jones and the chauffeur in “Driving Miss Daisy” in Norway, Denmark and Sweden. He gave the Scandinavian roles in American-accented vernacular, and electrified audiences and critics. He was inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame in New York in 1997.

Mr. Hyman appeared on and off Broadway in a score of productions over six decades, a lifetime of Beckett, O’Neill, Pinter, Albee and lesser lights as well as Shakespeare and Ibsen. And for nearly as long, he worked part of each year on the stages of Norway, where he had homes in Oslo and the fjord country, refuges from what he called the pressures, pleasures and racial barriers of New York.

“It used to be that casting black actors in traditionally white roles seemed daring, like marching in the street, and maybe things have gotten better and maybe they haven’t,” Mr. Hyman told The New York Times in 1991. “But just the fact that people still ask that question — should we or shouldn’t we? — proves that things have not come a long way.

“In Norway, where I have performed for three decades, I have played a Norwegian archbishop and no one has raised a question,” he added. “Here I am almost 65 years old and I’m still saying that all roles should be available to all actors of talent, regardless of race. Why should I be deprived of seeing a great black actress play Hedda Gabler?”

With young contemporaries like James Earl Jones, Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte and Morgan Freeman, Mr. Hyman was a major influence in developing black theater in America. He appeared in black-cast productions on Broadway and in regional theaters and was a founder of the American Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Conn., which began in 1955 and often cast black actors in customarily white leading roles.

Mr. Hyman typically ignored the ethnicity of his characters without sacrificing their passions. Onstage in 1981 and in a 1982 television movie, for example, he portrayed James Tyrone, but not the Irish patriarch of Eugene O’Neill’s dysfunctional family in “Long Day’s Journey into Night.” On Broadway, he gave a similar treatment in 1991 to Colonel Pickering, Henry Higgins’s cordial British linguist sidekick, in Shaw’s “Pygmalion,” and in 1992 to Ibsen’s ruthless Norwegian architect in “The Master Builder.”

Skirting racial barriers that had long limited the opportunities for black actors in America, Mr. Hyman lived and worked in England for five years and spent parts of each year in Scandinavia, mostly in Norway, for more than a half century. He became fluent in Norwegian and Danish, spoke passable Swedish, and performed in Oslo, Copenhagen and Stockholm in plays by Shakespeare, Ibsen and O’Neill.

After his debut at the National Theater in Bergen in “Othello” in 1963, Mr. Hyman, the first American to perform for Norwegians in their own language, was hailed by Norwegian critics, inundated with offers to stay on and besieged by fans from across a land of reserved people rarely given to emotional displays. After 50 consecutive sellouts, he was also drawing international attention.

“Even speaking Norwegian with an American accent has not diminished Mr. Hyman’s achievement for Norway’s critics and its theatrically sophisticated audiences,” a correspondent for The Christian Science Monitor wrote. “Along with the eloquence, dignity and towering emotional force of his characterization, the clarity of Mr. Hyman’s diction has won him admiration.”

George Earle Hyman was born in Rocky Mount, N.C., on Oct. 11, 1926, one of four children of Zachariah and Maria Plummer Hyman, who were both teachers. The family moved to Brooklyn when he was a boy. He graduated with honors from Franklin K. Lane High School, where he studied French and Latin.

Captivated by a production of Ibsen’s “Ghosts” that he saw in Brighton Beach, he resolved to be an actor. He devoured plays by Ibsen and Shakespeare, memorized parts easily and at 16 performed on Broadway in “Run, Little Chillun.”

His first Broadway hit, in 1944, was “Anna Lucasta,” Philip Yordan’s play about a Polish family, turned into a story about blacks, with an American Negro Theater cast that also included Alice Childress, Hilda Simms and Canada Lee. It ran 957 performances and was one of Broadway’s longest-running nonmusical plays at the time. After it closed in 1946, Mr. Hyman toured with the company in America and Europe.

Finding little work on Broadway in the early ’50s, he moved to London and over several years performed 13 roles in 10 Shakespeare plays, including the lead in a televised “Hamlet.” He played Othello in 1957 with the American Shakespeare Festival in Connecticut, and that year visited Norway for the first time. He was enthralled by a nation with an almost colorblind perspective on race.

“The first time I stepped on that soil I fell in love with it,” Mr. Hyman told The Associated Press in 1988. “I felt I’d been there before.”

Mr. Hyman, who never married, lived at the Lillian Booth Actors Home in Englewood. He leaves no immediate survivors.

He appeared in a number of made-for-television films and movies, including “Macbeth” (1968), “Julius Caesar” (1979) and “Coriolanus” (1979). He also provided voices for numerous episodes of the 1980s animated TV series “ThunderCats.”

He was nominated for a Tony for his 1980 Broadway role in Edward Albee’s “The Lady From Dubuque,” and for an Emmy in 1986 for his “Cosby Show” work. He won a CableACE Award in 1983 for best actor in a drama for “Long Day’s Journey Into Night”; an Outstanding Pioneer Award in 1980 from the Audience Development Committee, which recognized achievements by black theater artists; and the Medal of St. Olav from the King of Norway in 1988 for his work there.
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Old 11-19-2017, 06:00 PM   #4
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Unhappy Rest in Peace Earle Hyman

Earle Hyman was a very talented man with a fantastic voice. It's really something that he was only 11 years older than Bill Cosby when playing his father. It just worked. He will be missed.
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