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Todd Duncan
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    (February 12, 1903-February 28, 1998)
    Born in Danville, Kentucky
    Robert Todd Duncan
    Operatic bass-baritone
    Originated the role of Porgy on Broadway, in Gershwin's 'Porgy and Bess' (1935)
    Signature roles also included Stephen in 'Lost in the Stars,' Tonio in 'Pagliacci,' Escamillo in 'Carmen,' The General in 'Cabin in the Sky,' and Turiddu in 'Cavalleria Rusticana'
    Appeared in feature films 'Syncopation' (1942) and 'Unchained' (1955)
    Professor of Voice at Howard University in Washington D.C.. for over 50 years
    He went into unofficial retirement several times, returning to show business each time.
    He liked to perform the 'Plenty o' Nothin' number on his back during matinee performances.
    He originated a role many civil rights leaders have called demeaning towards African-Americans (hard to make an argument like that with a repertoire like 'I Got Plenty O' Nothin' and 'Bess You Is My Woman Now'...)
    He admitted to suspecting that Gershwin was looking to fool around with his wife during rehearsals, once even trying to 'take him into an alley' to settle it like men.
    Righteous Brothers fans (or fans of the song in general) have been known not to take to his rendition of 'Unchained Melody,' characterizing it as comparatively tepid (even if the setting and mood of the film required it to be).
    His interest in music started after his mother taught him the piano.
    He was the first African American to sing in an opera with an otherwise white cast.
    He became the first black artist to appear at the New York City Opera (1945).
    He sustained lifelong knee problems from performing on his knees as Porgy.
    He played the role of Porgy more than 1,800 times (in both the original run, and touring revivals).
    He was the first artist to record the 'Unchained Melody' song, which became a hit despite being an obscure number sung in a bit 'prison inmate' role.
    He was awarded the George Peabody Medal of Music from the Peabody Conservatory of Music of Johns Hopkins University (1984).
    He was personally selected by Gershwin for the role of Porgy (out of more than 100 applicants).
    The latter half of his singing career included over 2,000 performances in 56 countries.
    He led protests of the Washington National Theatre's policy of segregated seating - eventually management relented to his and the cast's demands (1936).

Credit: BoyWiththeGreenHair

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