Friday, February 18, 2011

Heroes Of Blaxploitation: Godfrey Cambridge

Day Eighteen:

Comedian, Civil Rights Activist and Tony nominated actor Godfrey Cambridge (1933-1976) starred in a variety of films throughout his career, appearing in such pictures as Gone Are The Days! (1963) with Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee as well as The President's Analyst (1967), Bye Bye Braverman (1968), and the Raquel Welch caper The Biggest Bundle Of Them All (1968).

But it wasn't until his lead roles in the Ossie Davis directed Blaxploitation classic Cotton Comes To Harlem (1970) and Melvin Van Peebles' Watermelon Man (1970) when he really won his audience's heart. These two films jump breathed new life into Godfrey's career as well as help jump start the Blaxploitation genre.

Godfrey also appeared in The Biscuit Eater (1972), the dreadful Beware! The Blob (1972), the sequel to Cotton Comes To Harlem: Come Back, Charleston Blue (1972), Five On The Black Hand Side (1973), Whiffs (1975)Friday Foster (1975) as well as showing up in quite a few Television Movies and Guest starring roles.

Sadly, Godfrey Cambridge died suddenly of a heart attack in 1976 while on the set of the movie Victory At Entebbe where he was to play Idi Amin. Bizarrely, Amin himself claimed that Godfrey's death was a "punishment from god"... I guess the evil dictator really didn't like anyone possibly portraying him in a negative light. Godfrey will be missed, but his contributions to the genre with all his wonderful performances (especially in The Watermelon Man) will live on...

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