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Godfrey Cambridge
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    (February 26, 1933-November 29, 1976)
    Born in New York City, New York
    Recorded the albums ‘Here’s Godfrey Cambridge, Ready Or Not’ (1964), ‘Them Cotton Pickin’ Days Is Over’ (1965), ‘Godfrey Cambridge Toys with the World’ (1966) and ‘Recorded Live at the Aladdin, Las Vegas’ (1968)
    Wrote the book ‘Put-Ons and Put-Downs’ (1967)
    Appeared on Broadway in ‘Purlie Victorious’ (1961-62) and ‘How to Be a Jewish Mother’ (1967-68)
    Appeared in the films ‘Gone Are the Days!’ (1963), ‘The President’s Analyst’ (1967), ‘Bye Bye Braverman’ (1968), ‘The Watermelon Man’ (1970), ‘Cotton Comes to Harlem’ (1970), ‘Come Back, Charleston Blue’ (1972), ‘Beware! The Blob’ (1972) and ‘Friday Foster’ (1975)
    Despite having won a scholarship to Hofstra University, he dropped out to become an actor.
    One of his odd jobs before finding success was a professional laugher: he was paid $10 a night to sit in the audience of Broadway comedies and get the laughter started.
    His weight fluctuated a lot, peaking at around 320 pounds.
    He tried losing weight by taking Dexedrine, but developed a glassy-eyed look that made people think he was a junkie.
    He died of a heart attack on the set during the filming of the TV movie ‘Raid on Entebbe,’ in which he was to have portrayed Idi Amin.
    In the late 1950s, he, actor Hugh Hurd and poet Maya Angelou organized one of the first benefits in New York for Martin Luther King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
    He won an Obie (the off-Broadway equivalent of a Tony) for his performance in <25319>Jean Genet<25319>’s ‘The Blacks’ (1961).
    He was nominated for a Tony as Best Featured Actor for ‘Purlie Victorious.’ (1962)
    He nightclubs started booking him when, ‘All of a sudden, they found out I don’t do a racial act, I do a funny act.’
    He joked that he supported Barry Goldwater for President because Goldwater was ‘against slavery… in principle.’

Credit: C. Fishel

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