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, to at the Lillian Booth Actors’ Fund Nursing Home in Englewood, N.J. He was 87 and had been a resident of the Booth since 2009.
Onstage, one of Brown’s most memorable roles was 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, receiving a Los Angeles Critics’ Circle Award for best actor.
On television he played a judge and a minister on “Law and Order,” recurred 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 bigscreen 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.
His distinctive voice could be heard in many voiceovers and commercials.
Robert E. Brown was born in New York City and was a boxer for a time.
He is survived by a daughter, a grandson and a sister.