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*Ron O’Neal was born on this date in 1937. He was a Black actor.
From Utica, NY he got his big break when he was cast in Charles Gordone's Pulitzer Prize-winning play No Place to Be Somebody, which began at Off-Broadway's Public Theater and later went to Broadway in 1969.
The producers of "Superfly," an urban crime film were impressed with his work. They cast him as the movie's lead character, a cool cocaine dealer named Youngblood Priest. "Superfly" became an unexpected hit, one of the defining films of the twentieth-century Blaxploitation genre.
Ironically, it was also the best-known movie of O'Neal's career, which included many low-budget productions. O'Neal also won an Obie Award, Clarence Derwent Award, and a Theatre World Award for his work. He returned to Broadway in 1975, replacing Cleavon Little in All Over Town, which was directed by Dustin Hoffman.
Ron O'Neal died of cancer in Los Angeles on Jan. 14, 2004. He was 66 and is survived by his wife.
The Associated Press
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