Brock PetersJul 2, 1927, New York, New York, USA
The actor began his 60-year career as a teenager on Broadway in a 1943 revival of the musical "Porgy and Bess" and moved easily among live theater, motion pictures and television. Born George Fisher on July 2, 1927, in Harlem, Peters decided on an acting career as a child. He attended the Music and Arts High School in New York City and later studied at the University of Chicago and City College of New York. Years later, he became a co-founder of the Dance Theatre of Harlem. In the late 1940s, Peters toured as a bass soloist with the DePaur Infantry Chorus. Peters first appeared on television in 1953 on "Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts." A year later, he made his film debut in the Preminger musical "Carmen Jones," starring Dorothy Dandridge and Belafonte. Peters achieved his greatest fame with the indelible "Mockingbird," a racial morality play about a black man defended by a white lawyer, Atticus Finch (Peck). As the dignified Tom Robinson, Peters moved audiences with his courtroom testimony. When Peck's lawyer character asked whether he had committed rape, Peters' Robinson answered strongly, but with tears in his eyes, "I did not, sir!" Off-sceen Peters said that his future close friend Peck phoned him before filming began to welcome him to the production, leaving Peters so surprised he dropped the telephone. He said no fellow actor had done that before or since. Among Peters' other films were his star turn as the villain Crown in Otto Preminger's "Porgy and Bess" in 1959, "The Pawnbroker" in 1965, "Soylent Green" in 1973 and "Ghosts of Mississippi" in 1996. Peters produced the 1973 film "Five on the Black Hand Side." Peters enjoyed great success starring as the South African minister in the stage and film versions of the musical "Lost in the Stars" in the early 1970s. His Broadway performance earned him a Drama Desk Award, an Outer Critics Circle Award and a Tony Award nomination. Throughout his career, Peters returned frequently to the stage, portraying the driver opposite Julie Harris in "Driving Miss Daisy" at Los Angeles' Henry Fonda Theatre in 1989 and South African teacher Mr. M in Athol Fugard's apartheid drama "My Children! My Africa!" a year later at the same venue. Television appearances included the 1979 ABC miniseries "Roots: The Next Generations," the 1982 PBS special "Voices of Our People," for which he received an Emmy Award, and the 2002 Hallmark Hall of Fame "The Locket," as well as episodes of such series as "Gunsmoke," "Magnum, P.I." and "Murder, She Wrote." He also frequently appeared on episodes of "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" playing Joseph Sisco, the wise restaurantuer father of space station commnder Benjamin Sisco (Avery Brooks)--Peter had already earned a special place among "Star Trek" fans for his turns as Admiral Cartwright in the motion pictures "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home" in 1986 and "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country" in 1991. Peters was well-regared in Hollywood circles and beyond for his socially conscious efforts. He earned lifetime achievement awards in 1976 from the National Film Society and in 1990 from the Screen Actors Guild, which also honored him for human endeavors. When he got his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1992, he likewise was commended for humanitarian contributions as well as his work. Peters received the NAACP Image Award and in 1976 was inducted into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame. He became a role model for young black entertainers and frequently was invited to address seminars on minorities in the entertainment industry. His commanding voice would, over the years, earn him roles on animated TV shows, including "Johnny Bravo," and on radio, as Darth Vader in "Star Wars." He also was a backup singer on Harry Belafonte recordings.