Every year at Pluck You, Too! during Black History Month, we celebrate the bad-assery of big bald black dudes. Prior award recipients include Ving Rhames and Keith David, Samuel L. Jackson and Bill Duke.
I don’t know how I let the most awesome Lou Gossett, Jr. go this long without being recognized. Best known for his Oscar-winning role as the drill instructor in An Officer and a Gentleman, it was tragically unfortunate that he also starred in the abysmal Jaws 3-D that year. He’s gone on to play bare knuckle fighters in Diggstown and of course, a pilot in Iron Eagle, and even an alien in Enemy Mine. He also played Black Bart in the TV pilot for a Blazing Saddles TV series- which thankfully never got made. He works a lot, and has a now iconic face that we recognize and attribute instant bad-assery toward. I most recently reviewed him in his buddy adventure movie with Chuck Norris, Firewalker (full review).
Woody Strode was a pioneering black actor who made his big splash as the hulking gladiator who fights Kirk Douglas in Spartacus. He was a pro football player and a dedicated martial artist in the art of kenpo as well as being a recognized character actor. He had a few starring roles such as the title character in John Ford’s Sgt. Rutledge, but I’ll always remember him as the silent, evil-looking gunman in the gripping first ten minutes of Once Upon a Time in the West among the three killers awaiting Charles Bronson’s arrival by train; he’s the one drinking rainwater off his hat! Also in The Professionals, he gets to shoot arrows with dynamite tied to them, and that’s the earliest role I remember him in. To this day I want to shoot dynamite arrows at barrels of gunpowder and blow up a bad guy’s compound, thanks to Mr. Strode.
Geoffrey Holder is best known as the 7-Up guy with the basso voice, “crisp and clean and no caffeine! ahahahaaa!!!” but he’s played memorable heroes and villains. Most recently he narrated Burton’s Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, but every girl who grew up in the ’80s remembers him as Punjab, Daddy Warbuck’s towering bodyguard. I think he was supposed to be Indian or Sikh since he wore a turban, but Hollywood wasn’t very sensitive about that sort of thing back then. He’s also a choreographer, which accounts for his physical grace that belies his 6’6″ height. James Bond fans will remember him as the voodoo priest Baron Samedi, one of the many villains in Live and Let Die.
© 2010 Thomas Pluck.