Scoey Mitchell, the actor best known for his work on the one-season run of the sitcom “Barefoot in the Park,” died on March 19 in Torrance, Calif., his brother, Billy Mitchell, confirmed to Variety. He was 92.
In a Facebook post Monday, Mitchell’s brother wrote, “He sacrificed much in the struggle to get Blacks behind the camera, into production and into positions that are taken for granted today. It’s important to remember those few that opened up the doors for so many.”
Born as Roscoe Mitchell Jr. on March 12, 1930, in New York, he began his career as a stand-up comedian in nightclubs. One of his first jobs was on “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour” in 1967, which was followed by dozens of comedic television appearances, including on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” “The Tonight Show” and “The Carol Burnett Show.” Before making the switch to acting, Mitchell had a spot on the ABC sketch comedy show “What’s It All About, World?”
In 1970, he starred as attorney Paul Bratter on the short-lived ABC television show “Barefoot in the Park,” adapted from the Neil Simon play. The sitcom was the first since the 1950s to have a predominantly Black cast, but Mitchell was reportedly fired due to tensions between him and the show’s white writers.
“The writers for ‘Barefoot’ consulted with members of the Watts drama workshop to learn about ‘the relationship Black people have when they are alone, without white people around,’ but Mitchell felt that Black writers should have been hired, not just consulted, to work on the sitcom,” the Washington Post reported last year.
Mitchell’s other TV credits included a guest spot on “The Odd Couple,” a recurring role on CBS’ “Rhoda,” and roles in the TV movies “Voyage of the Yes,” “Cindy” and “Cops.” His sole film credit was a small role in Richard Pryor’s semi-autobiographical film “Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling” in 1986.
Mitchell also had a handful of directing credits on the TV series “Me & Mrs. C,” as well as the made-for-TV movie of the same name, in addition to directing episodes of the nurse sitcom “13 East.” He also wrote for “Me & Mrs. C,” as well as picking up a number of writing credits for TV movies including “A Whole Lotta Fun” and “Miracle at Beekman’s Place.”
The actor also appeared on a number of popular game shows throughout his career in the ‘70s and ‘80s, including “Match Game,” “Password Plus” and “Hollywood Squares.”