Ernie Hudson

Active - 1976 - Present  |   Born - Dec 17, 1945 in Benton Harbor, Michigan, United States  |   Genres - Drama, Comedy, Action, Thriller

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Actor Ernie Hudson received his training at Wayne State, Yale School of Drama and the University of Minnesota. Following a hitch with the Marines, Hudson appeared in such stage productions as The Great White Hope, The Cage and Daddy Goodness. He made his earlier film appearance in 1976's Leadbelly. Most of us know Hudson best as Winston Zeddmore in the two Ghostbusters films, a role he repeated in Ray Parker Jr.'s "Ghostbusters" music video. His best--and most controversial--screen assignment was the The Hand That Rocks the Cradle (1992); Hudson played retarded handyman Solomon, virtually the only character in the film who doesn't buy into the "perfect" facade of homicidal baby-sitter Rebecca DeMornay. On TV, Ernie Hudson has been seen as Smythe in Highcliffe Manor (1977), undercover officer "Night Train" Lane in The Last Precinct (1986), and kleptomaniac cop Toby Baker in Broken Badges (1990). He had a memorable supporting part in the 1992 thriller The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, and appeared in Heart and Souls as well as the comedy Airheads. In 1994 he was cast in a prominent role in the action film The Crow, and followed that up in 1995 with part in Congo. In 1997 he started work on the HBO drama Oz, playing the warden of the meanest, cruelest inmates imaginable for six seasons. He co-starred with Sandra Bullock in the 2000 comedy Miss Congeniality. He continued to work steadily in projects as diverse as Snoop Dogg's Hood of Horror, The Ron Clark Story, and 2010's Smokin' Aces 2: Assassin's Ball.

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  • Joined the U.S. Marine Corps after graduating from high school, but was dismissed less than three months later due to asthma.
  • Initially focused more on writing than acting; was the resident playwright at Detroit's Concept East Theater, one of the oldest black theaters in the country.
  • Established Wayne State University's Actors Ensemble Theater so he and other black writers and performers could showcase their work.
  • Earned a full scholarship to the Yale School of Drama.
  • Enrolled in a University of Minnesota program that would lead to a PhD, but he dropped out to star in a Minneapolis production of The Great White Hope.
  • Made his film debut in 1976's Leadbelly, which was followed by a myriad of television appearances before his breakout role in 1984's Ghostbusters
  • Lost the role of Winston to Arsenio Hall in 1986 for The Real Ghostbusters, an animated adaption of the movie.
  • Became a sergeant in the special service bureau of the San Bernardino County police force in California in 1994 after studying for three acting roles with the police.
  • Appeared with son Ernie Jr. in the HBO series Oz
  • Received the 2007 Award for Excellence in Film, Television and Beyond at the Lake Arrowhead Film Festival in California.