Lonne Elder III

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Lonne Elder III (December 26, 1927 – June 11, 1996) was an American actor, playwright and screenwriter. In 1973, he and Suzanne de Passe became the first African Americans to be nominated for the Academy Award for writing.[1] Elder was nominated for Sounder, while De Passe was nominated for the film Lady Sings the Blues.


Elder was born in Americus, Georgia, but raised in Jersey City, New Jersey. He began his career as a Broadway actor but soon found his skills in playwriting. His first and most well known play, Ceremonies in Dark Old Men, won him a Drama Desk Award for Most Promising Playwright. The play, which was about a Harlem barber and his family, was produced by the Negro Ensemble Company in 1969,[2] and this encouraged him to study filmmaking at Yale. He did not complete the course in filmmaking at Yale.

He wrote the screenplay for Sounder and received an Academy Award nomination. He later wrote its sequel.

Elder was known for films that promoted the cause of feminism for African-American women. His script for the television miniseries A Woman Called Moses is an example of this.[2] His play Ceremonies in Dark Old Men, which was produced for television in 1975, was also influential in depicting the realities of a black family attempting to survive in New York City.

Elder also co-wrote the screenplay for the Richard Pryor comedy Bustin' Loose. He also starred in the original Broadway production of Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun as the character Bobo.


  1. ^ International Movie Database Accessed July 26, 2006.
  2. ^ a b New York Times. Accessed July 26, 2006.