Leonard Jackson (actor)

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Leonard Jackson
Born February 7, 1928
Jacksonville, Florida, U.S.
Died December 22, 2013(2013-12-22) (aged 85)
Manhattan, New York, U.S.
Cause of death Alzheimer's disease
Resting place Calverton National Cemetery
Other names L. Errol Jaye
Education Fisk University
Occupation Actor
Years active 1965-1997

Leonard Jackson (February 7, 1928 – December 22, 2013) was an African American stage, film, and television actor, perhaps most widely known for his roles in several PBS television series for children as well as his roles in films such as The Brother from Another Planet, Car Wash, and The Color Purple.

Early years and stage career[edit]

Jackson, in his early years known as L. Errol Jaye, was born February 7, 1928 in Jacksonville, Florida.[1] He served in the United States Navy during World War II. After attending Fisk University, his professional acting debut was on the stage, in New York Shakespeare Festival's 1965 off-Broadway production of Troilus and Cressida.[1] In March 1968, he played Mr. Carpentier, the title character, in The Electronic Nigger, part of a trio of one-act plays by Ed Bullins, during The American Place Theatre production of the play's premiere.[2][3] He played a pastor in the Broadway premiere of The Great White Hope, which ran for over 500 performances at the Alvin Theatre during 1968-1970.[4]

As Leonard Jackson, he returned to Broadway two years later, first in the premiere of Conor Cruise O'Brien's Murderous Angels and after its short run, to a Broadway revival of the Kurt Weill musical Lost in the Stars at the Imperial Theatre.[5]

A dozen years later, Jackson returned to Broadway for the premiere of Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, which ran for 276 performances and was chosen "Best Play" by the New York Drama Critics Circle.[6] In 1991, Jackson was part of the cast for the Broadway premiere of Mule Bone, an unfinished play written by Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston.[5] The production, mounted for the first time sixty years after it was written, received a negative review by Frank Rich, who said the "three principal performers ... are at best likably amateurish, [though] their efforts are balanced by the assured center-stage turns of such old pros as Leonard Jackson, as a fuming man of the cloth, and Theresa Merritt."[7]

Television and film career[edit]

His film roles include:[8]

On television, he had a recurring role on several PBS television series for children, including Sesame Street, Shining Time Station, and Square One TV/Mathnet.[8] He has also been featured in episodes of dramas such as Law & Order, Homicide: Life on the Street, and Spenser: For Hire, and comedies such as Amen, The Cosby Show, and The Jeffersons.[9]

His made-for-television films include Separate but Equal (1991) and Rage of Angels, the 1983 adaptation of the Sidney Sheldon novel.[9]


Jackson died on December 22, 2013 in Manhattan, New York at age eighty-five after losing his battle with Alzheimer's disease. He is survived by his wife, Ada Jackson, brother-in-law, Alexander Edwards and wife, Janice, sister-in-law, Joan Phillips, nephew, Emerson Thompson and wife, Geraldine, nieces Kim Hunter and Patricia Jackson and a host of other cousins, nieces, nephews, family and friends.


External links[edit]