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Rasulala in Cool Breeze, 1972.
November 15, 1939
Miami, Florida, U.S.
|Died||October 9, 1991
Albuquerque, New Mexico
|Cause of death||Heart Failure|
|Spouse(s)||Shirlyn Mozingo (m. 1984–91) (4 children)
Martha Roberts (m. 1960–77) (3 children)
Thalmus Rasulala (born Jack Crowder; November 15, 1939 – October 9, 1991) was an American actor with a long career in theater, television, and movies. Noted for starring roles in Blaxploitation films, he was also an original cast member of ABC's soap opera One Life to Live from its premiere in 1968 until he left the show in 1970.
Life and career
Born Jack Crowder in Miami, Florida, he appeared in many films and made guest appearances in TV shows. He also attended some classes at Shaw University an HBCU in Raleigh, NC in the late 1970s. Notable Blaxploitation film roles include Sidney Lord Jones in Cool Breeze (1972), Dr. Gordon Thomas in Blacula (1972) and Robert Daniels in Willie Dynamite (1974); he also was the assistant director of The Slams (1973). On television, he was known as Skeeter Matthews on Sanford and Son, Ned in The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, Lt. Jack Neal on One Life to Live, Bill Thomas (Raj and Dee's father) on What's Happening!!, and Omoro Kinte (Kunta Kinte's father) in Roots. He also appeared on the first-season episode of Saturday Night Live hosted by Richard Pryor as a priest in the "Exorcist II" sketch.
On the Broadway stage, under his original name Jack Crowder, Rasulala appeared as Cornelius Hackl in the hit musical Hello, Dolly!. He was a leading member of the all-black cast that starred Pearl Bailey and Cab Calloway. The Bailey company opened on Broadway on November 12, 1967 and was recorded by RCA Victor for a best-selling cast album in which Rasulala is featured in several songs.
He also appeared on The Twilight Zone, All in the Family, The Jeffersons, Good Times, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and The Sophisticated Gents. His other film roles include Cornbread, Earl and Me (1975), Mr. Ricco (1975), Bucktown (1975), The Last Hard Men (1976), The Story of Medgar Evers (1983), The Boss' Wife (1986), New Jack City (1991). His last film role was as General Afir in Mom and Dad Save the World.
He died shortly after completing his scenes, and the film, released a year after his death, is dedicated to his memory. Rasulala died on October 9, 1991, from a heart attack in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He died two days before actor Redd Foxx, who also died of a heart attack and with whom he guest starred on Sanford & Son. In the episode, he solicited funds for heart attack prevention and awareness.
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