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Samuel L. Jackson
*Samuel Jackson was born on this date in 1948. He is an African American actor and film producer.
Samuel Leroy Jackson was born in Washington, D.C., the son of Elizabeth Harriett Montgomery and Roy Henry Jackson. He grew up as an only child in Chattanooga, Tennessee. His father lived away from the family in Kansas City, Missouri, and later died from alcoholism. Jackson met his father only twice during his life. Jackson was raised by his mother, who was a factory worker and later a supplies buyer for a mental institution, and by his maternal grandparents, Edgar and Pearl Montgomery, and extended family. According to DNA tests, Jackson partially descends from the Benga people of Gabon, and he became a naturalized citizen of Gabon in 2019.
Jackson attended several segregated schools and graduated from Riverside High School in Chattanooga. Between the third and 12th grades, he played the French horn and trumpet in the school orchestra. Jackson also played the flute and piccolo. Initially intent on pursuing a degree in marine biology, he attended Morehouse College. After joining a local acting group to earn extra points in a class, Jackson found an interest in acting and switched his major, he co-founded the "Just Us Theatre".
In 1968 Jackson attended the funeral of Martin Luther King, Jr. in Atlanta as one of the ushers. Jackson then flew to Memphis to join an equal rights protest march. In a Parade interview Jackson revealed: "I was angry about the assassination, but I wasn't shocked by it. I knew that change was going to take something different not sit-ins, not peaceful coexistence." In 1969, Jackson and several other students held members of the Morehouse College board of trustees hostage on the campus, demanding reform in the school's curriculum and governance. The college eventually agreed to change its policy, but he was charged with and convicted of unlawful confinement, a second-degree felony; then suspended for two years for his criminal record and his actions.
While suspended, Jackson was employed as a social worker in Los Angeles. Jackson returned to Atlanta and met with Stokely Carmichael, H. Rap Brown, and others active in the Black Power movement. However, his mother sent him back to Los Angeles after the FBI told her that he would die within a year if he remained with the Black Power movement. He would later return to the college to earn his Bachelor of Arts in Drama in 1972. In 1980, Jackson married actress and sports producer LaTanya Richardson. The couple have a daughter, Zoe (born 1982). In 2009, they started their own charitable organization to help support education.
He came to prominence in the early 1990s having appeared in over 150 films, including Goodfellas, Jungle Fever and his collaborations with director Quentin Tarantino including Pulp Fiction, for his role in Pulp Fiction, he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. With Jackson's permission, his likeness was used for the Ultimate version of the Marvel Comics character Nick Fury. He has subsequently played Fury in eleven Marvel Cinematic Universe films beginning with a cameo appearance in Iron Man (2008), as well as guest starring in the television series Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Jackson has provided his voice to several animated films, television series and video games.
Jackson campaigned during the 2008 Democratic Primary for Barack Obama in Texarkana, Texas. He said: "Barack Obama represents everything I was told I could be growing up. I am a child of segregation. When I grew up and people told me I could be president, I knew it was a lie. But now we have a representative... the American Dream is a reality. Anyone can grow up to be a president." Jackson also said: "I voted for Barack because he was black. That's why other folks vote for other people – because they look like them".
He has won critical acclaim and numerous accolades and awards and Jackson is ranked as the highest all-time box office star with over $7.1 billion total US box office gross, an average of $89.9 million per film. The worldwide box office total of his films (excluding cameo appearances) is over $16.7 billion. He became the top-grossing actor in October 2011, surpassing veteran voice actor Frank Welker. Jackson has said he attends each of his films in theaters with paying customers, saying: "Even during my theater years, I wished I could watch the plays I was in while I was in them! I dig watching myself work." He also enjoys collecting the action figures of the characters he portrays in his films.
He has a clause in his film contracts that allows him to play golf during film shoots. He has played in the Gary Player Invitational charity golf tournament to assist Gary Player in raising funds for children in South Africa. Jackson is a basketball fan, supporting the Toronto Raptors and the Harlem Globetrotters. He supports the soccer team Liverpool F.C. since appearing in The 51st State. He also supports Irish soccer team Bohemian F.C. In June 2013, Jackson launched a joint campaign in an effort to raise money to fight Alzheimer's disease. From 2013 to 2017 he ate a vegan diet for health reasons and attributed a 40 lb. weight loss. He recently launched a campaign called "One for the Boys", which teaches men about testicular cancer.
Image: Glenn Francis