On this day in comedy on January 30, 1951 Actor and Director, Charles Stanley Dutton born in Baltimore, MD!
The first act of Dutton’s life was a bumpy one. For starters, he dropped out before finishing middle school and became an amateur boxer. His ring name was “Roc”, but after a street fight resulted in a boy being killed at the hands of Dutton he had to trade in his name for numbers. Dutton was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to serve 7 years. Once he got out he was right back in after being hit with another 3 years for being caught with a deadly weapon. It was during that second stretch that Dutton had his epiphany.
Charles Dutton got thrown into solitary and accidentally grabbed a book of black playwrights as his reading material for the six-day stint. When he emerged, he petitioned the warden to start a drama group. The warden agreed only if Dutton went all out and got his GED. Proving he was a renewed man, Dutton did not only that, but he also went on to get a two-year degree from Hagerstown Community College in Maryland. After he got out Dutton attended Towson State University and Yale School of Drama.
Though Dutton got initial work as a dramatic heavy on Broadway (winning a Theatre World Award and receiving a Tony Award nomination for Best Actor), it was comedy for which he is most remembered. Prior to getting the part of Roc Emerson, the junkman with a plan on Roc, Dutton was making a good living playing cops and attorneys. Then Fox decided he was perfect for their sitcom and Dutton hit his mark for 72 episodes. Roc was a hit for the new network and Dutton got to stretch his talents and move into directing (later winning a Best Director Emmy for HBOs The Corner). The show was also notable for using stage trained actors and broadcasting the episodes live in the second season.
Once Dutton got into the swing of the Roc shooting routine he jumped into high gear. He made movies: Alien 3, Rudy, Get on the Bus, Crocodile Dundee II, Menace II Society, Cry, the beloved Country, A Low Down Dirty Shame, A Time to Kill and Cookie’s Fortune. He guest-starred on multiple television series (The Sopranos, The Practice, Without a Trace, The L Word, House, My Name is Earl). He won awards (Outstanding Guest Actor Emmys in 2002 & 2003).
By Darryl “D’Militant” Littleton
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