Fast Facts

  • Discovered drama after accidentally walking onto a stage at a theater below a Harlem YMCA.
  • Began his stage career on Broadway in The Long Dream (1960). 
  • Served as artist-in-residence at Brandeis University in 1966.
  • Best known for his role as the hip undercover cop Linc Hayes on the TV series The Mod Squad (1968-73).
  • Worked in a variety of genres, from comedy (I'm Gonna Git You Sucka; Half-Baked) to sci-fi (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) and drama (Purple Rain, as Prince's father).
  • Looking back at his Purple Rain performance, he recalled with relish a moment between scenes, in which Prince "picked up the guitar and started doodling...I had my eyes closed...and I thought about Jimi Hendrix."
  • Uncredited film roles include Pork Chop Hill (1959) and American Gangster (2007).


  • 1965, Tony — Actor, Supporting or Featured (Dramatic): Nominee


  • Eva Taylor — Grandmother
  • Clarence Williams — Grandfather
  • Gloria Foster — Ex-wife
  • Clay Williams — Father

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  • Birth Place: New York, New York, United States
  • Profession: Actor

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