Daily Variety is reporting that actor Graham Brown, who performed with Minneapolis' Guthrie Theater (of which he was a founding member), the New York Shakespeare Festival, London's newly reconstructed Globe Theater and most notably the Negro Ensemble Company, died of pulmonary failure on Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2011.
Robert Simonson of Playbill writes:
"Mr. Brown was long associated with the Negro Ensemble Company, acting alongside the likes of Frances Foster, Arthur French, Esther Rolle, Al Freeman Jr., Laurence Fishburne and L. Scott Caldwell, and performing the works of Alice Childress, Derek Wolcott, Joseph A. Walker, Lonne Elder III and Charles Fuller.
His first NEC production was 1968's God Is a (Guess What?). Other productions included An Evening of One Acts, Man Better Man, Ride a Black Horse, The Great Macdaddy, Waiting for Mongo, Eden, The Brownsville Raid, Nevis Mountain Dew, Plays From Africa, A Season to Unravel, Ceremonies in Dark Old Men and Lagrima del Diablo."
Brown won a Los Angeles Critics' Circle Award for best actor for his role as Jared Philibert, the patriarch of a Caribbean family encased entirely in an iron lung, with only his head visible, in Steve Carter's play Nevis Mountain Dew. He originated the role at the NEC and reprised it in the West Coast premiere in Los Angeles, where he won the LACC Award.
On television he played a judge and a minister on Law and Order, had a recurring role on Days of Our Lives and played a school principal on Sanford and Son. He also guested on Ironside, Lou Grant and Cagney and Lacey.
Brown's big-screen credits included Spike Lee's Malcolm X and Clockers as well as The Muppets Take Manhattan, in which he played Mr. Wrightson, the irritable department store manager. Brown was a resident at the Lillian Booth Actors' Fund Nursing Home in Englewood, N.J. He is survived by his daughter, grandson and sister. He was 87.