Brock Peters, Tony-Nominated Actor of Stage and Screen, Dead at 78

Obituaries   Brock Peters, Tony-Nominated Actor of Stage and Screen, Dead at 78
 
Brock Peters, the singer and actor known for films, plays and musicals — including playing the role of the cornered defendant in Hollywood's "To Kill a Mockingbird" — died Aug. 23 in his Los Angeles home, according to The New York Times.

Mr. Peters was 78. The cause of death was complications of pancreatic cancer, AP reported.

The actor was a 1973 Tony Award nominee for Best Actor in a Musical for Kurt Weill and Maxwell Anderson's Lost in the Stars, in which he played Stephen Kumalo and sang the title song. His other Broadway appearances included The Caucasian Chalk Circle (1966), Kwamina (1961), The Body Beautiful (1958) and Mister Johnson (1955). He also appeared in the 1974 motion picture version of "Lost in the Stars," based on Alan Paton's "Cry, the Beloved Country."

A busy TV and film actor, his credits ranged from "Roots: The Next Generation" to "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home" and "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country." He played rough Sgt. Brown in the film "Carmen Jones" and villainous Crown in the film "Porgy and Bess," as well as the accused rapist, Tom Robinson, in 1962's "To Kill a Mockingbird." At the time, he felt he was in danger of being typecast as the brooding or violent black man.

Mr. Peters frequently punctuated his career with stage appearances. Stock, tours and resident theatre were all on his resume. He was Othello for Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., in 1963, and boxer Joe Jefferson in the national tour of The Great White Hope.

Mr. Peters was born Brock Fisher in New York City. He graduated the Music and Art High School in 1941, according to an early bio, and attended the University of Chicago and City College of New York. His made his New York City stage debut succeeding William Smith as Jim in a 1943 production of Porgy and Bess, which later toured. He appeared in a Howard Rigsby-Dorothy Heyward play called South Pacific, unrelated to the later musical, although both shows were set in the tropics. He also appeared in Broadway's Anna Lucasta, a production by American Negro Theatre. In his later career, he starred in productions of Driving Miss Daisy and My Children My Africa.

He was honored by the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame in 1976, and earned a Life Achievement Award from the National Film Society in 1977.

Mr. Peters' wife, Dolores Daniels, died in 1990. He is survived by companion Marilyn Darby and daughter Lisa Jo Peters.

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