Ron O'Neal, Obie-Winning Actor and "Superfly" Star, Dead at 66

Obituaries   Ron O'Neal, Obie-Winning Actor and "Superfly" Star, Dead at 66 Ron O'Neal, the actor who briefly became an international star in the film "Superfly" after producers saw his performance in the play No Place to Be Somebody, died of cancer in Los Angeles on Jan. 14, the New York Times reported. He was 66.

The Utica, New York, native got his big break when he was cast in Charles Gordone's Pulitzer Prize-winning play No Place to Be Somebody, which began at Off-Broadway's Public Theater and later went to Broadway in 1969. Mr. O'Neal won an Obie Award, Clarence Derwent Award and a Theatre World Award for his work.

The producers of "Superfly," a blaxploitation film, saw him in that production. Impressed, they cast him as the movie's lead character, a cool cocaine dealer named Youngblood Priest.

"Superfly" became an unexpected smash, one of the defining films of the short-lived Blaxploitation genre. Unfortunately, it was also the best known movie of Mr. O'Neal's career, which included many a forgettable, low-budget production.

He returned to Broadway in 1975, replacing Cleavon Little in Murray Schisgal's All Over Town, which was directed by Dustin Hoffman.

He is survived by his wife.

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