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Legendary Actor Earle Hyman Dead at 91

Veteran actor Earle Hyman has died. He was 91.

According to Deadline, the classically trained Broadway star passed away at the Lillian Booth Actors Home in Englewood, New Jersey, last Friday.

Hyman, who was blessed to have a career on and off of Broadway, was an actor for more than six decades. Although he is known for a plethora of Shakesperean roles performed at Joseph Papp’s New York Shakespeare Festival, it was playing Russell Huxtable, the father of Dr. Cliff Huxtable, on The Cosby Show that got him access to his largest audience.

Hyman embodied the role of Huxtable’s sympatico father so well that he was nominated for an Emmy for the role in 1986.

He also portrayed roles in classics such as Othello, Henrik Ibsen’s The Master Builder and even Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night during his lengthy career on stage.

The Lady From Dubuque was one of his more memorable performances in contemporary works. It was a play that not only featured Hyman as a soft-spoken, karate-chopping enforcer but also one that left critics and audiences stunned by the work of art. The role earned the actor his only Tony nomination.

Hyman, a native of Rocky Mount, North Carolina, was biracial, born to an African-American father and Native American mother. His family moved to Brooklyn, New York, when he was a child.

His interest in acting was piqued after being exposed to theatrical plays of Ibsen. As a lifetime member or The Actors Studio, Hyman would go on to perform in the U.S. and Norway, where he made his second home after falling in love with the country.

The role of Panthro in the ’80s cartoon series Thundercats, as well as appearances in Julius Caesar, Coriolanus and Macbeth are among Hyman’s notable film and television performances.

His last NYC stage appearance took place in 2009, where he played Ferapont in Anton Chekhov’s Three Sisters. 

Rest peacefully, Mr. Hyman.

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