Melvin Van Peebles

  • Birth Place: Chicago, Illinois, United States
  • Profession: Director, Actor, Playwright, Author, Composer
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Fast Facts

  • 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 — Book (Musical): Nominee
  • 1972, Tony — Score: Nominee
  • 1973, Tony — Book (Musical): Nominee


  • Max Van Peebles — Son
  • Megan Van Peebles — Daughter
  • Maria Marx — Ex-wife
  • Mario Van Peebles — Son


  • Attended West Virginia State College, Institute, West Virginia, United States; Ohio Wesleyan University, Delaware, Ohio, United States (BA in English, 1953)
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