Peters in 1961
July 2, 1927
Harlem, New York, U.S.
|Died||August 23, 2005
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Dolores Daniels (m. 1961; d. 1989)|
|Children||Lise Jo Peters (nee Lisa), (born November 3, 1962)|
Brock Peters or Brock G. Peters (born George Fisher; July 2, 1927 – August 23, 2005) was an American actor, best known for playing the role of Tom Robinson in the 1962 film To Kill a Mockingbird and for his role as "Crown" in the 1959 film version of Porgy and Bess. In later years, he also gained recognition among Star Trek fans for his portrayals of Fleet Admiral Cartwright in two of the Star Trek feature films and Joseph Sisko, father of Benjamin Sisko, in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and was also notable for his role as Hatcher in Soylent Green.
Peters set his sights on a show business career early on, at the age of 10. Avidly encouraged by his mother Alma to pursue a musical career, he studied the violin from 10 to 14 years of age, but found his singing talents were more prodigious and upon enrolling at New York's famed High School of Music and Art, immediately signed up for several productions in the musical theatre program. Upon graduation, Peters initially fielded more odd jobs than acting jobs, often working as a hospital orderly at night while he worked his way through physical education studies at City College of New York, but still stayed connected to the burgeoning theatre and creative community in New York, occasionally doing background parts in musical plays like "Black Aida". After auditioning and landing a spot touring with the Leonard DePaur Infantry Chorus, however, (of which he was a civilian member from 1945-1947), he officially quit CCNY. Peters often joked that he "grew up" in the chorus, as his vocal range changed from baritone to bass baritone during his years with them. DePaur subsequently gave him the lead in the Chorus' popular rendition of "John Henry" (which became a repertoire mainstay of Peters in later years, singing the work on one of his two solo albums produced by United Artists Records in the 1960s). Peters at that time with the Chorus was still performing under the name of George Fisher, but was encouraged by his agent to change it to something a bit more memorable. Future African American entrepreneur Peter Brock was a childhood friend and as he had always liked the name, Peters merely switched the order and presented the idea to his agent. After auditioning and landing a stage role in the touring company of Porgy and Bess in 1949 on the great contralto Etta Moten's suggestion, he went on tour with the opera, where the opera's statesman as Porgy, William Warfield, commended his performances and requested Peters as his understudy. It was during this time touring in Europe with the opera that celebrated African American actor-singer-activist Paul Robeson saw him in his career-defining role as "Crown" and purportedly declared him "a young Paul Robeson".
Peters made his film debut in Carmen Jones in 1954, but began to make a name for himself in such films as To Kill a Mockingbird and The L-Shaped Room. He received a Tony nomination for his starring stint in Broadway's Lost in the Stars.
He sang background vocals on the 1956 hit "The Banana Boat Song (Day-O)" by Harry Belafonte, as well as on Belafonte's 1957 hit, "Mama Look a Boo-Boo". He also sang on the song "Where" from Randy Weston's 1959 album Live at the Five Spot and shared vocal duties with Martha Flowers on Weston's album of the following year, Uhuru Afrika. During this time, Peters and Belafonte became fast friends, sharing similar political views and approaches to their careers.
He played a supporting role as the gangster Rodriguez in the 1965 film The Pawnbroker.
He was a special guest star in the third season of The Streets of San Francisco, playing the character "Jacob" in the episode called "Jacob's Boy" (1974).
In the film Abe Lincoln, Freedom Fighter (1978), Peters plays Henry, a freed black slave who is falsely accused of robbery but, defended by Abraham Lincoln, is found not guilty due to the fact he has a damaged hand and could not have committed the crime. In To Kill a Mockingbird, Peters plays Tom Robinson, a black man falsely accused of raping a white girl, whom Atticus Finch shows could not have committed because his hand (and arm) were damaged.
In 1970 Peters portrayed the voice of African-American boxer Jack Johnson in Bill Cayton's film of the same name, and it is in this role that he can be heard at the end of Miles Davis' soundtrack album, Jack Johnson, saying: "I'm Jack Johnson. Heavyweight champion of the world. I'm black. They never let me forget it. I'm black all right! I'll never let them forget it!"
In radio, Peters was the voice of Darth Vader for the National Public Radio adaptation of the original Star Wars trilogy. He also played the role of a Colonial prosecutor trying to make a murder case against Starbuck in an episode of the original Battlestar Galactica.
He worked in the films Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country as Fleet Admiral Cartwright of Starfleet Command. Peters portrayed Joseph Sisko, father of Deep Space Nine's commanding officer, Benjamin Sisko, on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
In early 2005, Peters guest-starred in an episode of JAG during its final season, "Bridging the Gulf", season 10 episode 15.
Peters worked with Charlton Heston on several theater productions in the 1940s and 1950s. The two became friends and subsequently worked together on several films, including Major Dundee, Soylent Green, and Two-Minute Warning.
He voiced Soul Power in the animated series Static Shock (2000–2004).
- Carmen Jones - as Sergeant Brown (1954)
- Porgy and Bess - as Crown (1959)
- To Kill a Mockingbird - as Tom Robinson (1962)
- The L-Shaped Room - as Johnny (1962)
- Heavens Above! - as Matthew Robinson (1963)
- Major Dundee - as Aesop (1965)
- The Pawnbroker - as Rodriguez (1965) 
- The Incident - as Arnold Robinson (1967)
- P.J. - as Waterpark (1968)
- Ace High - as Thomas (1968)
- Daring Game - as Jonah (1968)
- The McMasters - as Benjie (1970)
- Black Girl - as Earl (1972)
- Soylent Green - as Lieutenant Hatcher (1973)
- Slaughter's Big Rip-Off - as Reynolds (1973)
- Lost in the Stars - as Reverend Stephen Kumalo (1974)
- Framed - as Sam Perry (1975)
- Two-Minute Warning - as Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum security chief Paul (1976)
- SST: Death Flight - as Dr. Therman (1977)
- The Incredible Journey of Doctor Meg Laurel - as Joe (1979)
- Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home - as Fleet Admiral Cartwright (1986)
- Alligator II: The Mutation - as Chief Speed (1991)
- Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country - as Fleet Admiral Cartwright (1991)
- The Secret - as Thurgood 'Uncle T.' Carver III (1992)
Other notable performances
- Runaway slave Pompey in "Daniel Boone" episode "Pompey" (12-10-64)
- Stephen Kumalo in Kurt Weill & Maxwell Anderson's Lost in the Stars (stage revival and 1974 film version) — nominated for a Tony Award
- The Reverend Canon Frederick Chasuble, D.D. in an all-black film version of Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest (1992)
- Darth Vader in the Star Wars radio series
- The Ogre in the Faerie Tale Theatre episode Puss in Boots.
- Detective Frank Lewis in The Young and the Restless
- Lucius Fox in Batman: The Animated Series
- Joseph Sisko, Benjamin Sisko's father, in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
- Dark Kat in SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron, Bloth in The Pirates of Dark Water, Tormack in Galtar and the Golden Lance and Boneyard in Gravedale High.
- Voice-acting performance as the boxer Jack Johnson on the Miles Davis album A Tribute to Jack Johnson.
- Mel Watkins (August 24, 2005). "Brock Peters of 'To Kill a Mockingbird' Is Dead at 78". New York Times. Retrieved 2015-01-29.
Brock Peters, the versatile film and stage actor, singer and producer who first rose to prominence in the 1960's and 70's with his powerful singing voice and poignant screen portrayals of angry, belligerent black men, died yesterday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 78. The cause was complications of pancreatic cancer, his companion, Marilyn Darby, told The Associated Press. ...
- Brock Peters Biography (1927-)
- "Brock Peters Biography". StarTrek.com. CBS Studios. Retrieved 2008-10-08.
- "Berlinale: 1993 Juries". berlinale.de. Retrieved 2011-05-29.
- Rubin, Joel; Hoffman, Alice (17 June 2003). "Peck Memorial Honors Beloved Actor and Man". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 15 June 2015.
- McLaughlin, Katie (3 February 2012). "'Mockingbird' film at 50: Lessons on tolerance, justice, fatherhood hold true". CNN. Retrieved 15 June 2015.
- "Brock Peters Is Chosen For Role in 'Pawnbroker'". New York Times. September 24, 1963. Retrieved 2015-01-29.
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