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Mon, 10.11.1926

Earle Hyman born

Earle Hyman

*Earle Hyman was born on this date in 1926. He was a Black and Native American stage and television actor.

George Earle Hyman was born in Rocky Mount, North Carolina he is the son of son of Zachariah and Maria Lilly (maiden name, Plummer). His Native heritage included (Tuscarora, Haliwa-Saponi/Nottoway).  He attended public schools in Brooklyn. The third cousin of Phyllis Hyman, he and school friend Anne Jackson were among eight finalists of over a thousand applicants for producer John Golden's "Golden Auditions" for young people.

After that he had his first job on radio, then came a tiny role in Run, Little Chillun [his 1943 Broadway debut]. It was a musical by Hall Johnson. Then Hyman became a member of the American Negro Theatre," returning to Broadway,” as the Black company replaced the white company in Three's a Family for one performance." The American Negro Theatre's production of Anna Lucasta, in which Hyman played Rudolf, opposite Hilda Simms in the title role. The show proved so successful that it transferred to Broadway's Mansfield Theatre, where it ran over two years. During the run, a call for film extras was posted backstage.

A movie fan since childhood, Hyman signed up as an extra for the Harlem scene of 'The Lost Weekend' (which won the 1945 Oscar for Best Picture). The Shakespeare plays in which Hyman has appeared include Othello (playing the title role in five productions), Julius Caesar, The Tempest, King John, Hamlet, A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Winter's Tale, Coriolanus, Antony and Cleopatra and Richard II. Hyman earned a 1980 Tony nomination for Edward Albee's The Lady from Dubuque. In 1987, he succeeded Morgan Freeman as Hoke Coleburn in Alfred Uhry's Off Broadway success, Driving Miss Daisy.

For many years the actor divided his time between America and Norway, where he received the GRY Award in 1965, as the year's Best Actor for Emperor Jones, and a St. Olav Medal in 1988, for performances on the Norwegian stage. Hyman, who spoke fluent Norwegian, also starred in a 1994 sitcom, "Seier'n er var." Hyman's stage appearances have been with the Classic Theatre of Harlem, playing Firs in The Cherry Orchard and Kreon in Medea.  In another assignment, he appeared in Pinter's The Room, portraying "a blind black man who comes in near the end of the play." Before he leaves for a rehearsal, he admits, "I'm extremely shy. But, by God, if you open my mouth, you're going to have to shut it up!" Of his long career, a sincere Earle Hyman observed, "I'm grateful for it all!"

In 2006, Hyman played in the Atlantic Theater Company's double bill of Harold Pinter plays Celebration and The Room. Hyman is best known for his role as Bill Cosby's father, Russell Huxtable, on "The Cosby Show", but also a distinguished stage actor globally whose credits date back over 60 years.   His life was a theatrical example of the intersectionality of Native American and African American heritage.  Hyman was unique in that he has played diverse roles with convincing professionalism for many years.  His paternal grandparents Ismael Hyman and Cassandra Cross are Ms. Hyman's great-grandparents. He had a cabin in Skånevik, Norway, where he spent a lot of his spare-time. In 2004, Earle Hyman played in the film Brother to Brother. Earle Hyman died on November 17, 2017.

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