Joe Seneca

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Joe Seneca
Born (1919-01-14)January 14, 1919
Cleveland, Ohio
Died August 15, 1996(1996-08-15) (aged 77)
New York City, New York
Occupation Actor
Years active 1974–1997

Joe Seneca (January 14, 1919 – August 15, 1996) was an American film and television actor who had a lengthy acting career, portraying bit parts in many films and television sitcoms spanning from the 1970s to the 1990s. He played the father of Danny Glover's character in the film Silverado.

Life and career[edit]

Seneca was born Joel McGhee in Cleveland, Ohio. Prior to his acting career, Seneca belonged to the R&B singing group The Three Riffs, performing at upscale supper clubs in New York City. He was also a songwriter and had big hits with "Talk to Me" which was sung by Little Willie John and "Break It to Me Gently", which was a smash hit twice, once by Brenda Lee in 1962, and once by Juice Newton in 1982.

In the 1982 film, The Verdict, Seneca plays the supporting role of Dr. Thompson, a small-town women's hospital physician brought in by attorney Frank Galvin (Paul Newman) to support his belief that two famous doctors' incompetence, left his client alive but in a coma. Seneca's performance, while subdued, brings a gritty realism to the court proceedings and was one of his more important film roles. Arguably his most well-known roles are that of bluesman Willie Brown in Crossroads (1986) and Dr. Meddows in The Blob (1988), the evil head of a government team sent to contain the title creature.

Seneca also made multiple appearances on The Cosby Show as Hillman President Dr. Zachariah J. Hanes. He also played Alvin Newcastle,[1] a man suffering from Alzheimer's disease, on an episode of The Golden Girls entitled "Old Friends." Seneca appeared in Spike Lee's School Daze as Mission College President McPherson.

Seneca played Eddie Haynes, on Matlock, in the May 9, 1989 episode "The Blues Singer". He later played a blind murder witness in the October 13, 1993 Law & Order episode "Profile".

Seneca appeared in Michael Jackson's "The Way You Make Me Feel" music video in the late 1980s.

He died from asthma at the age of 77.[2]


  1. ^ The Golden Girls Season 3 episode 52; air date September 19, 1987
  2. ^ Crocker, Catherine (August 17, 1996). "Obituaries | Joe Seneca, Singer, Composer, Actor". The Seattle Times. Associated Press. 

External links[edit]