April 18, 1937
Washington, Washington D.C., United States
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Robert Hooks has enjoyed a long and esteemed acting career. He is recognized for his talent, as well as for his position as a pioneering African-American actor who broke down racial barriers. He had been living in Philadelphia and was inspired to move to New York after seeing the out-of-town tryouts for a production of "A Raisin in the Sun." He would eventually go on to win a New York Drama Critics Award for his Broadway debut in that production. In 1963, he took his first television role in the drama "East Side/West Side." By 1967, he had a starring role as Detective Jeff Ward in the cop show "N.Y.P.D.," the first black actor to play the lead in a television program. He played the role until 1969. Some other programs he's been seen in include the crime show "The Streets of San Francisco," which starred Michael Douglas; the medical drama "Trapper John, M.D."; and "L.A. Law," where he was featured in two episodes as Judge Earl Gregory. He has made a few film appearances--in the sci-fi sequel "Star Trek III: The Search for Spock" playing Fleet Admiral Morrow, and starring as a tough no-nonsense private eye, Mr. T., in the 1972 blaxploitation film, "Trouble Man," a flop known mostly for its soundtrack by Marvin Gaye. Hooks is also the founder of two major black theater groups, the New York-based Theatre Workshop, and in Washington the Black Repertory Company.