Milton “Mel” Stewart, legit and TV actor, died Feb. 24 in Pacifica, Calif., from complications caused by Alzheimer’s disease. He was 72.
Cleveland native made the jump to Gotham to pursue acting and play jazz saxophone. It was there that he starred in Langston Hughes’ “Simply Heavenly” and appeared in other productions, both Broadway and elsewhere.
In the 1960s, Stewart moved from NYC to San Francisco to work with the improv group known as the Committee. He resided in the Bay Area for more than 40 years. He appeared in many movies including “The Hustler,” “Steelyard Blues,” “The Landlord” and “Made in America” with Whoopi Goldberg. He was Billy Melrose in TV’s “Scarecrow and Mrs. King” and made appearances on “All in the Family,” “Love Boat,” “Little House on the Prairie,” and “Heat of the Night.”
Stewart taught acting at San Francisco State U. and established the theater group Black Actors Now Through Unity (BANTU). His latest projects were teaching young actors and directing plays at the Center for African and African-American Art and Culture in San Francisco and the Black Repertory Theater in Berkeley. Additionally, the martial arts specialist (3rd degre black belt in aikido) started a dojo for inner-city youth in the Bayview district.
He is survived by his wife of 25 years, Annie Dong-Stewart, and a daughter.
Private services were held. A memorial service will be announced at a later date.
Donations may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association.