Moses Gunn

Active - 1964 - 1992  |   Born - Oct 2, 1929   |   Died - Dec 16, 1993   |   Genres - Drama, Comedy

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Dynamic African-American actor Moses Gunn was one of the founders of the Negro Ensemble Company. Educated at Tennessee State and the University of Kansas, Gunn made his first New York appearance in a 1961 production of Measure for Measure; he remained active on the off-Broadway scene throughout his career, winning several Obie awards. His 1962 Broadway debut came by way of Jean Genet's The Blacks, which served to introduce many of the powerful black acting talents of the era. In films dating from 1964's Nothing But a Man, Gunn is best-remembered for his portrayal of gangster Bumpy Jonas in the first two Shaft films, and for his brief but telling cameo as Booker T. Washington in Ragtime, a performance which won him an NAACP Image award. On series television, Gunn was top-billed as Jebediah Nightlinger in The Cowboys (1972), played boxing trainer George Beifus in The Contender (1980), was featured as miner Moses Gage in Father Murphy (1981-84) and chewed the scenery as the epigrammatical "Old Man" in A Man Called Hawk (1989). He also played Carl Dixon, the man who married Florida Evans (Esther Rolle) after a whirlwind courtship during the 1976-77 season of Good Times. In 1977, Moses Gunn received an Emmy nomination for his appearance as tribal chieftain Kintango in the groundbreaking miniseries Roots.

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