Saturday, February 26, 2011

Heroes Of Blaxploitation: Thalmus Rasulala, James Iglehart & Rockne Tarkington

Day Twenty-six:

A spotlight on three lesser known Blaxploitation heroes. These three guys may not be household names, but we love them all the same.

Thalmus Rasulala (1939-1991) Had the most prolific career of the three, especially in the world of Blaxploitation. Some of his credits include: Cool Breeze (1972), Blacula (1972), Willie Dynamite (1974), Cornbread, Earl And Me (1975), Bucktown (1975), Friday Foster (1975) and Adios Amigo (1976)

All great films. Throughout the 70's he starred in some above average genre films like Mr. Ricco (1975) and The Last Hard Men (1976) but also made many memorable appearance on TV in projects like The Autobiography Of Miss Jane Pittman (1974), Last Hours Before Morning (1975), Roots (1977), What's Happening!! (1976-77) and several more. He worked for the rest of his career pretty steadily in TV and sadly died in 1991 of a heart attack.

James Iglehart had a small career, but starred in a string of cult films and left an indelible impression. He was in Russ Meyer's Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls (1970)
as well as Meyer's underrated and decidedly not very sexy The Seven Minutes (1971). He also had a role in the Roger Corman biker flick  Angels Hard As They Come (1971) and a starring role of his own in Savage! (1973). A blaxploitation flick that has one of my favorite trailers in the genre.

James also had the leading role in the Blaxploitation/Kung-fu flick Bamboo Gods And Men (1974) and the Cirio H. Santiago helmed Death Force (AKA: Fighting Mad) (1978). Another of my favorite films in the genre that time seems to have forgotten.

Rockne Tarkington Is probably not best known for his work in Blaxploitation as he's had a successful and lasting career in all sorts of roles and genres, appearing in such things like the Tarzan TV series from the 60s, The Banana Splits Adventure Hour Kids Show as well as The Great White Hope (1970). At 6'5 Rockne is a bear of a man and often used his proportions to his advantage in a lot of action and tough guy roles.

Rockne starred in Melinda (1972) with Calvin Lockhart, Rosalind Cash and the gorgeous Vonetta McGee, then landed a starring role of his own in Black Samson (1974)... And who else could have played that role but he? Next up was the ultra rare Blaxploitation film Black Starlet (1974) which co-starred Juanita Brown. During that time Rockne also appeared in such films as Beware! The Blob (1972), Trained to Kill: USA (AKA: The No Mercy Man) (1973) Code Name Zebra (1976), The Great Gundown (1977) as well as countless other roles in film & TV... I know I am a fan of his "Too Mean Malone" 7 episode arc on Matt Houston back in the 80s!

Dude has a lion!

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