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Robert Hooks

Born:  April 18, 1937

Birthplace:   Washington, D.C.

Zodiac Sign:  Aries

Robert Hooks is an American actor, producer, and activist. He is most recognizable to the public for his more than 100 roles in films, television, and stage. Most famously, Hooks, along with Douglas Turner Ward and Gerald S. Krone, founded The Negro Ensemble Company. The Negro Ensemble Company is credited with the launch of the careers of many major black artists of all disciplines, while creating a body of performance literature over the last thirty years, providing the backbone of African-American theatrical classics. Additionally, Hooks is the sole founder of two significant black theatre companies: the D.C. Black Repertory Company, and New York's Group Theatre Workshop.


Having trained at the Bessie V. Smith School of Theatre in Philadelphia, and after seeing A Raisin in the Sun in its Philadelphia tryout in February 1959, Hooks moved to New York to pursue acting. In April 1960, as Bobby Dean Hooks, he made his Broadway debut in A Raisin in the Sun replacing Louis Gossett, Jr. who would be doing the film version. He then continued to do its national tour. He then stepped into the Broadway production of A Taste of Honey, replacing Billy Dee Williams; then repeating the same national tour trajectory as he had done for "Raisin..." the previous year. In early 1962 he next appeared as the lead in Jean Genet's The Blacks, replacing James Earl Jones as the male lead, leaving briefly that same year to appear on Broadway again in Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright before stepping back into the lead role in The Blacks in 1963. He then returned to Broadway, first in Ballad for Bimshire and then in the short-lived 1964 David Merrick revival of The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Any More (as a character created by Tennessee Williams for this revival) and starring Tallulah Bankhead and Tab Hunter in his only stage performance. Immediately thereafter, on March 24, 1964 he originated the role of Clay in Amiri Baraka's Dutchman. With this play, on the advice of Roscoe Lee Brown, Hooks became known as, Robert Hooks. He also originated roles on the New York stage in Where's Daddy? for which he won the Theatre World Award and he was nominated for Best Male Lead in a Musical for Hallelujah Baby while he was simultaneously starring in David Susskind's N.Y.P.D.—the first African American lead on a television drama.

Hooks was nominated for a Tony for his lead role in the musical, Hallelujah, Baby!, has received both the Pioneer Award and the NAACP Image Award for Lifetime Achievement, and has been inducted into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame. He also won an Emmy for his PBS special, Voices of Our People. Source.

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