Oscar-nominated actor who became one of the first black stars after appearing in the 1985 film, The Color Purple. The following year, he played Solomon in Club Paradise.
He was in the New York-based Negro Ensemble Company, appearing in over 300 stage productions without much recognition.
His portrayal of a spiteful sergeant in A Soldier's Story earned him an Oscar nomination.
He had three children with his wife Diane.
He had his first major Hollywood role as Old Mister in Steven Spielberg's 1985 acclaimed film The Color Purple.