Lawrence Hamilton, Broadway Actor, Dies at 59

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07 Apr 2014

Lawrence Hamilton, who appeared in several significant Broadway musicals over the past three decades, died April 3, 2014, at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City due to complications following bypass surgery. He was 59.



Mr. Hamilton took part in many of the most important African-American-oriented musicals of the late 20th century. Following his Broadway debut in a 1983 revival of Porgy and Bess, he was a member of the cast of a 1984 revival of The Wiz. He started out playing a variety of roles, including a Munchkin, Kalidah, Field Mouse, Emerald City Citizen, and Lord High Underling, and graduated to the part of the Tinman.

He was a performer in the 1986 review Uptown…It's Hot! and was dance captain of Truly Blessed, a 1990 show that was billed as "A Musical Celebration of Mahalia Jackson." He was a standby for Jelly's Last Jam, the hit 1992 musical based on the life of jazz musician Jelly Roll Morton. And he played the Rev in Play On!, a 1997 musical modernization of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night that used the music of Duke Ellington.

Lawrence Hamilton was born and raised in Foreman, Arkansas, and studied Music at Henderson State in Arkadelphia. In the 1980s, he was musical director for the pop group New Kids on the Block, which included future stars such as Bobby Brown and the members of Bell Biv Devoe.

Mr. Hamilton was director of Cultural Affairs and an Associate Professor of Humanities at Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Funeral services will be held in his home state of Arkansas. A memorial service is being planned for New York City in the near future.