Real Ass Life

Old Black Magic

Yeah, I know I'm late. But . . .

Can we please have a moment of silence . . .

For veteran actor Roscoe Lee Browne (1925-2007).

The classically trained actor died on April 11 of cancer at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He was 81. The Emmy Award-winning thespian -- who was born near my neck of the woods of Woodbury, NJ -- has appeared in over 200 films, most notably in blaxiplotation flicks like Superfly T.N.T. and Uptown Saturday Night. Browne was also an exceptional television actor who often played snobbish but dignified black characters on various celebrated sitcoms. Among his most memorable TV characters included:

The astute butler Saunders on Soap.

The uppity attorney Hugh Victor Thompson III who got stuck in an elevator with the cantankerous Archie Bunker on an episode of All in the Family.

And my favorite:

He portrayed the bourgeois loverman Osgood Wilcox who was trying to steal Fred Sanford's girlfriend Donna on a 1972 episode of Sanford & Son. Now that was a classic episode and performance by Roscoe and the late Red Foxx. [Someone put that on YouTube immediately!]

Roscoe finally won an Emmy in 1986 for his guest appearance as Professor Foster on an episode of The Cosby Show and nabbed an Emmy nomination a decade earlier for a performance on the 1970’s sitcom, Barney Miller.

He also was a gifted theater actor who garnered a best supporting-actor Tony nomination in 1992 for his performance in the 1992 August Wilson-penned play, Two Trains Running. "He was one of the most remarkable presences on stage, on film, on television," said fellow actor Sidney Poitier. "However, when he was in person, he was particularly impactful."

Actors Laurence Fishburne and Tyne Daly both held memorials in Los Angeles and New York, respectively, on April 22 honoring the beloved actor.

For those of you wondering, why I called this post "Old Black Magic," check out this classic episode from All in the Family, which features Roscoe at his best.

Rest in Power, Roscoe Lee Browne.