Celebrating Black Entertainment of Television: PIONEER: William Marshall – Harlem Detective (1953-54) to Emmy Winning Actor and Producer (1974)

Written By: Greg Howell - Jan• 30•21

William Marshall (1924 – 2003) began his career with aplomb, landing roles on Broadway with diverse works like Carmen Jones, Othello, and numerous other Shakespeare plays. Working across Europe and America, the classically trained actor quickly established himself as a hot commodity.The London Sunday Times labeled him “The Greatest Othello of Our Time” and Jet Magazine, on January 3, 1952, claimed his as “Hollywood’s Newest Glamour Boy.” He notably starred as abolitionist Frederick Douglas.

Profoundly handsome, his graceful, larger-than-life presence and haunting voice promised a long career. In 1953, WOR-TV in New York began production on “Harlem Detective,” a television series based on the popular books by author Chester Times. William Marshall accepted the leading role playing a police detective, giving him the distinction of being the first African-American to star in a drama on television.As with Hazel Scott a few years before, by the 14th episode, Williams had been labeled as a communist by an influential anti-communist magazine. The show was immediately canceled in January, 1954; fortunately, he was able to survive the smear, and continued with a long career in television, movies, and theater.

In 1974, William Marshall won 2 Emmy awards for a local PBS production of “As Adam Early in the Morning.” Marshall is most often remembered for his “Blacula” films and his two Star Trek episodes in the late 1960’s.IMDB offers this notation: “In addition to his acting and producing work, Marshall taught acting at various universities including University of California, Irvine and at the Mufandi Institute, an African-American arts and music institution in the Watts section of Los Angeles. He did similar work at Chicago’s eta Creative Arts Foundation, which in 1992 named Marshall one of its Epic Men of the 20th Century. Marshall was the unmarried partner for 42 years of Sylvia Gussin Jarrico, former wife of blacklisted screenwriter Paul Jarrico. Marshall died on June 11, 2003.

SOURCES: https://webuyblack.com/…/daily-dose-history-william…/https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Marshall_(actor)https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0551234/bioh#williammarshall

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