Attended graduate school at the University of Amsterdam in Holland, where he studied astronomy.
Lived in France in the 1960s, during which time he wrote five novels. The Chinamen of the 14th District was his first book to get published, in 1967.
Made his motion-picture directorial debut with the 1967 drama Story of a Three Day Pass. Film was based on his novel La Permission and it received the Critics' Choice Award at the San Francisco Film Festival.
Directed and wrote the musical arrangement for the 1970 comedy flick Watermelon Man.
Financed, directed, wrote and starred in the 1971 crime-drama Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song, which started the blaxploitation film craze.
First Broadway production, Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death (1971), earned several Drama Desk Awards.
In 2001, was named Chevalier of the Legion d'Honneur, France's highest honor for contributions to art culture.
In 2012, released a new album, Nahh, Nahh...MoFo.
1972, Tony — Score: Nominee
1973, Tony — Book (Musical): Nominee
1972, Tony — Book (Musical): Nominee
Mario Van Peebles — Son
Megan Van Peebles — Daughter
Maria Marx — Ex-wife
Max Van Peebles — Son
Attended West Virginia State College, Institute, West Virginia, United States; Ohio Wesleyan University, Delaware, Ohio, United States (BA in English, 1953)