Veteran actor Lincoln Kilpatrick, who broke racial barriers to become the first African-American member of the Lincoln Center Repertory Co. and who appeared on Broadway in the ground-breaking plays “A Raisin in the Sun” and “The Blacks,” died May 18 of lung cancer in Los Angeles. He was 73.
Services for Kilpatrick will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday, May 26, at the Bible Enrichment Fellowship Intl. Church, 400 E. Kelso St., Inglewood.
A stage actor who would go on to perform in more than 40 movies and more than 100 TV series, Kilpatrick was born in St. Louis. As a youth, he moved with his parents to Alaska, where his mother opened a nightclub. There, Kilpatrick met Billie Holiday who encouraged him to try acting.
After graduating from Lincoln U. in Jefferson City, Mo., and serving in the Army, Kilpatrick studied at the American Theater Wing, and, in 1960, landed a role in the original Broadway production of Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun,” starring Sidney Poitier.
Kilpatrick also appeared in Jean Genet’s “The Blacks,” an historic production which kicked off the careers black actors including Louis Gossett Jr., Godfrey Cambridge, Esther Rolle, Cicely Tyson, Roscoe Lee Browne and Roxie Roker.
His other Broadway credits include “One Flew Over the Cockoo’s Nest” with Kirk Douglas, James Baldwin’s “Blues for Mr. Charlie,” and “Hallelujah Baby” with Leslie Uggams.
Moving to Hollywood, Kilpatrick and the late Edmund Jr. Cambridge founded the Kilpatrick-Cambridge Theater Arts School in 1971Today, the school continues under the guidance of Kilpatrick’s wife of 47 years, actress-singer-dancer Helena Ferguson Kilpatrick.
Kilpatrick’s film credits include “Soylent Green,” “Uptown Saturday Night,” “Omega Man,” and “Hoodlum.” He played the Right Rev. Deal in TV’s “Frank’s Place,” also was seen on “ER,” “NYPD Blue,” “The Jeffersons,” and many other shows dating back to “Naked City” in the 1950s.
In addition to his wife, survivors include five children, three grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.
Donations may be sent to the Kilpatrick-Cambridge Theater Arts School, 3655 Westwood Blvd., Suite 8, Los Angeles, CA 90034.