Popular Black Celebrities When I Was Growing Up

..Im a 70's baby and these folks were in constant rotation on my tv and radio
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1.
Michael Jackson
Thanks, This Is It
Michael Joseph Jackson was born in Gary, Indiana on August 29, 1958, and entertained audiences nearly his entire life. His father, Joe Jackson, had been a guitarist, but was forced to give up his musical ambitions following his marriage to Katherine Jackson (née Katherine Esther Scruse). Together...
 
2.
Gary Coleman
Without a doubt Gary Coleman was THE child TV star of the late 1970s and early 1980s. A refreshingly confident little tyke with sparkling dark, saucer-like eyes and an ingratiating, take-on-anyone burst of personality, the boy charmed the pants right off of TV viewers the minute he was glimpsed in national commercials...
 
3.
Jimmie Walker
Actor, Good Times
He symbolized the 70s American dream of success -- the former kid from the ghetto who rose to wisecracking TV superstardom. While in his element as the broadly strutting, gleamy-toothed J.J. Evans of the popular urban-styled sitcom Good Times, Jimmie Walker lived the extremely good life. Following the series' demise...
 
4.
Prince
Soundtrack, Batman
Prince Rogers Nelson was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to Mattie Shaw, a jazz singer and social worker, and John L. Nelson, a lyricist and pianist. His father's stage name was "Prince Rogers". His parents were both from African-American families from Louisiana. They separated during his youth...
 
5.
Muhammad Ali
Muhammad Ali beat more champions and top contenders than any heavyweight champion in history. He defeated heavyweight kings Sonny Liston (twice), Floyd Patterson (twice), Ernie Terrell, Jimmy Ellis, Ken Norton (twice), Joe Frazier (twice), George Foreman and Leon Spinks. He defeated light-heavyweight champs Archie Moore and Bob Foster...
 
6.
Richard Pryor
Highly influential, and always controversial, African-American actor/comedian who was equally well known for his colorful language during his live comedy shows, as for his fast paced life, multiple marriages and battles with drug addiction. He has been acknowledged by many modern comic artist's as a key influence on their careers...
 
7.
Redd Foxx
Redd Foxx began doing stand-up comedy on the infamous "Chitlin' Circuit" in the 1940s and 1950s. Foxx was one of the premier "blue humor" comedians. Blue humor was very dirty, too dirty for white audiences. For years his party albums were not available in white record stores. In the 1960s his records became available...
 
8.
Sherman Hemsley
Sherman Hemsley played characters known to be wise-cracking, "Weezy" loving, boisterous fools which America and the entire world laughed with kindheartedly. Sherman Alexander Hemsley, Air Force veteran and actor, was born on Feb. 1, 1938 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His father, William Hemsley, worked at a printing press while his mother worked at various factories during the war...
 
9.
Sugar Ray Leonard
Producer, The Contender
Considered one of the best fighters of all time, Ray Leonard burst onto the international scene by winning the light-welterweight gold medal at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal. He turned professional with a lawyer, Mike Trainer, handling the business side of his career whilst hiring the legendary trainer Angelo Dundee to guide him towards the top...
 
10.
Sheila E.
Daughter of musician Pete Escovedo, Sheila E. became one of the top female musicians during the 1980s due to her fierce drumming style and her Latin rhythms. A former protégé of Prince, Sheila became a drummer in his band before branching off into solo musical projects. In addition to being considered the best female drummer alive...
 
11.
Fred Berry
For a while in the 1970s, Fred Berry was one of the biggest stars on American television. The former dancer, who became a star in the sitcom What's Happening!! ballooned until his weight became a threat to his health. He battled with food, drink, drugs and women, marrying 6 times to 4 women in total. Diabetes was diagnosed...
 
12.
Eddie Murphy
Edward Regan Murphy was born April 3, 1961 in Brooklyn, New York, to Lillian, a telephone operator, and Charles Edward Murphy, a transit police officer who was also an amateur comedian and actor. After his father died, his mother married Vernon Lynch, a foreman at a Breyer's Ice Cream plant. His siblings are Charlie Murphy and Vernon Lynch...
 
13.
Luther Vandross
Soundtrack, The Goonies
He was the heartbeat of R&B during the 1980s and 1990s, yet led a productive singing and songwriting life prior to this preeminence. The soul balladeer's strong commitment to the art of music continued on its Grammy-winning course, even after an acute stroke in 2003 left him severely incapacitated and unable to continue public appearances...
 
14.
Mike Tyson
Producer, Tyson
One of the most frightening human beings ever to step into the boxing ring, Mike Tyson was the model of the supreme gladiator - unbeaten and unbeatable. Never before had one individual captured the attention of the wider world via sport except Muhammad Ali. Michael Gerard Tyson was born in Brooklyn...
 
15.
Diana Ross
Best known as the the lead singer of the popular 1960s singing group The Supremes, Diana Ernestine Earle Ross was born on March 26, 1944, in Detroit, Michigan, the second of six children of African-American parents Ernestine Lillian (Moten), a schoolteacher, and Fred Earl Ross, who served in the army...
 
16.
Bill Cosby
Music Department, Bill Cosby: Himself
Bill Cosby is one of the world's most well-known entertainers and comedians. William Henry Cosby, Jr. was born on July 12, 1937, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Anna Pearl (Hite), a maid, and William Henry Cosby, Sr., a U.S. Navy sailor. After tenth grade, Cosby joined the Navy and completed high school through a correspondence course...
 
17.
Mr. T
Actor, The A-Team
Mr. T was born Laurence Tureaud on 21 May 1952, in the rough south side ghetto of Chicago. He is the second to youngest of twelve children (he has four sisters and seven brothers) and grew up in the housing projects. His father, Nathaniel Tureaud, left when Laurence was 5, and his mother raised the family on $87 a month welfare in a three-room apartment...
 
18.
Ernest Thomas
Ernest Lee Thomas was born in an economically-low neighborhood in Gary, Indiana. Thomas's attempt to become a successful person was to move to New York and become a Broadway actor. He made his professional debut as as a Broadway actor appearing in the 1974 revival production of Love For Love, also in the 1975 revival production of 'The Member Of The Wedding'...
 
20.
Billy Dee Williams
Billy Dee Williams was born William December Williams on April 6, 1937 in New York City. Billy Dee has notched up an impressive array of film and television appearances over the past 50+ years. He is easily best known to international film audiences as the roguish Lando Calrissian in the last two episodes of the original Star Wars-trilogy: Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi...
 
23.
Jayne Kennedy
Actress, Body and Soul
Jayne Kennedy (born Jane Harrison on October 27, 1951 in Washington, D.C.) is an American actress, model and sportscaster. Jayne was crowned Miss Ohio USA 1970 (she was the first African American woman to win the title), and was one of the 10 semi-finalists in the 1970 Miss USA pageant. It was rare for an African American woman at that time to be in the contest...
 
24.
“ Friday The 13th part 6 ” - SteelKeez
 
26.
Todd Bridges
Actor Todd Bridges has seen and done it all. Todd has lived and worked amongst some of the most famous and influential individuals in the world. For over twenty-five years, he has victoriously survived a rapidly changing business. He experienced his second rise to fame, as "Juice" on The Young and the Restless...
 
27.
John Amos
Actor, Die Hard 2
A native of New Jersey and son of a mechanic, African-American John Amos has relied on his imposing build, eruptive nature and strong, forceful looks to obtain acting jobs, and a serious desire for better roles to earn a satisfying place in the annals of film and TV. He has found it a constant uphill...
 
28.
LaWanda Page
Best known for her role as Aunt Esther Anderson on "Sanford And Son", she appeared in many films including "Don't Be A Menace To South Central While Drinking Your Juice In The Hood" (1996), "Friday" (1995), "The Legend of Dolemite" (1994), "West From North Goes South" (1993), "The Meteor Man" (1993)...
 
30.
Lonette McKee
Actress, Malcolm X
Lonette McKee's career began in the music industry in hometown Detroit, Michigan as a child prodigy, where she began playing keyboards composing music and lyrics, singing and performing professionally at a young age. At fourteen she recorded her first record, "Stop Don't Worry 'Bout It" which became an instant regional Pop/R&B hit...
 
31.
Lisa Bonet
Lisa Bonet was born in San Francisco, California, to Arlene Joyce (Litman), a teacher, and Allen Bonet, an opera singer. She has lived most of her life in New York and Los Angeles, where she attended Reseda High School and Celluloid Actor's Studio. Her father was African-American and her mother was Ashkenazi Jewish (from a family from Poland and Russia)...
 
32.
Marla Gibbs
Armed with an acid dry wit and a full arsenal of sarcasm and sass, African-American character comedienne Marla Gibbs showed up on 70s TV with a bang in middle age (44). Landing the feisty maid role on the popular ground-breaking CBS comedy, The Jeffersons, eventually led to her very own sitcom, 227...
 
33.
Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs
Lawrence-Hilton Jacobs was born in New York City. He is one of nine children born to Hilton and Clothilda Jacobs. Larry, as his family and friends call him, attended public schools in New York City, so he has first-hand knowledge of what it is like to be a student in a big-city high school like the one pictured on "Welcome Back...
 
34.
Cicely Tyson
Actress, The Help
Cicely Tyson was born in Harlem, New York City, where she was raised by her devoutly religious parents, from the Caribbean island of Nevis. Her mother, Theodosia, was a domestic, and her father, William Tyson, was a carpenter and painter. She was discovered by a fashion editor at Ebony magazine and...
 
35.
Antonio Fargas
A tall, lanky and twinkle-eyed African-American actor with wonderful onscreen charisma, Antonio Fargas has been appearing on stage and screen for nearly 40 years. His film debut was in Shirley Clarke's The Cool World, a gritty, uncompromising tale about African-American youth growing up in Harlem...
 
36.
Irene Cara
Actress, Fame
Irene Cara started out in the Spanish market at the tender age of five. Her first American television series was the acclaimed children's series The Electric Company, starring alongside Bill Cosby and Morgan Freeman. In the Late 1970s she starred in the title roles for two Warner Bros. movies, Aaron Loves Angela and Sparkle...
 
37.
Phylicia Rashad
Phylicia Rashad was born in Houston, Texas, to African-American parents, Vivian Elizabeth (Ayers), a poet and art director, and Andrew Arthur Allen, an orthodontist. As a child, Phylicia, her older brother Andrew (called Tex), and younger sister, dancer and actress Debbie Allen, lived in Mexico. She has another brother...
 
38.
Debbie Allen
Deborah Kaye Allen was born in Houston, Texas, to African-American parents, Vivian Elizabeth (Ayers), a poet and art director, and Andrew Arthur Allen, an orthodontist. As a child, Debbie, her older brother, Andrew (called Tex), and her older sister, actress Phylicia Rashad, lived in Mexico to escape US racism...
 
39.
Judy Pace
Actress, Brian's Song
"Daily Variety", many publications and critics called Judy Pace one of the most beautiful women to ever appear on screen. In the 1970s she was the personification of black beauty, but restricting her to just being a "black" beauty is a slap in the face because she's a beauty, period. Most importantly...
 
40.
Haywood Nelson
Haywood Nelson is best known as Dwayne Nelson from the legendary TV show What's Happening!!. Haywood played Dwayne, a pretty boy who is a little shy, friendly, down to earth teen, who was likable and with his catch phrase, "Hey, Hey, Hey," became a favorite, memorable character by all who watched him then and now...
 
41.
Joe Morton
Joe Morton was born on October 18, 1947 in New York, New York, USA. He is a television, film, and theater actor, best known for The Brother from Another Planet, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Eureka, and Scandal. He also writes and directs, and is a singer/songwriter.
 
45.
Carl Weathers
Actor, Predator
Carl Weathers was born on January 14, 1948, in New Orleans, Louisiana. A famous and successful football star at San Diego State, he played with the Oakland Raiders and retired from the sport in 1974, in order to give full attention to his goal: to be a real actor. Weathers first played small parts in two blaxploitation flicks...
 
46.
Louis Gossett Jr.
Actor, Enemy Mine
Louis Cameron Gossett Jr. was born on May 27, 1936 in Brooklyn, New York City. He made his professional acting debut at age 17, winning the Donaldson Award as best newcomer to theatre. He went to New York University on a basketball scholarship and was invited to try out for the New York Knicks, yet...
 
47.
Pam Grier
Actress, Jackie Brown
Pam Grier was born in Winston-Salem, NC, one of four children of Gwendolyn Sylvia (Samuels), a nurse, and Clarence Ransom Grier Jr., an Air Force mechanic. Pam has been a major African-American star from the early 1970s. Her career started in 1971, when Roger Corman of New World Pictures launched her with The Big Doll House...
 
48.
Glynn Turman
Actor, Super 8
New York City-born African-American actor Glynn Turman enjoyed his first real taste of acting success at the age of 13 originating the role of Travis Younger on Broadway in Lorraine Hansberry's landmark play "A Raisin in the Sun" in 1959 opposite Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee, Claudia McNeil and Diana Sands as his various family members...
 
49.
Jackée Harry
Jackée Harry was born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and reared from the age of nine in Harlem, New York, by her mother, Flossie. At the tender age of fourteen, Jackée landed the lead role of the King in her school's production of The King and I. Upon graduation from New York City's High School of Music and Art with a distinction in Opera...
 
51.
 
52.
Clifton Davis
Actor, Amen
Clifton Davis was born on October 4, 1945, in Chicago. His career spans forty years. He is a minister and songwriter as well as an actor. He performed as a student at Pine Forge Academy in Pennsylvania (from which he graduated in 1963) as a singer and as an orator, and those performances accustomed him to appearing in front of an audience. He and a classmate composed the class song...
 
53.
Vonetta McGee
Born Lawrence Vonetta McGee, she got her break in Melinda and Hammer and hit paydirt as the love interest of the vampire in Blacula, then starred with her then-boyfriend Max Julien in Thomasine & Bushrod. In 1978 she starred opposite Bernie Casey and Ron O'Neal in Brothers...
 
54.
“ Sweet Daddy Williams in Good Times ” - SteelKeez
 
55.
“ Pop lockin legend from LA..Boogaloo Shrimp..Turbo in hip hop classic Breakin ” - SteelKeez
 
56.
Janet Jackson
Janet Damita Jo Jackson was born on May 16, 1966 in Gary, Indiana, to Katherine Jackson (née Katherine Esther Scruse) and Joe Jackson, a musician. She is the youngest of ten children. After her birth, her brothers formed a band later called The Jackson 5. She lived at home with her sisters, while her brothers and father lived an extravagant life in Los Angeles...
 
57.
 
58.
Stevie Wonder
Soundtrack, Die Hard
Born Stevland Hardaway Judkins in Saginaw, Michigan, United States, to Calvin Judkins and Lula Mae Hardaway. Due to being born six weeks premature, Stevie Wonder was born with a condition called retinopathy of prematurity, which made him blind. Stevie Wonder, even with this disability, made his landmark to be a pioneer and innovator in the music industry...
 
59.
Mabel King
Actress, The Jerk
Actress who is best known for the role of Mama on the 1970's sitcom What's Happening!!! She also appeared in the movie The Jerk, with Steve Martin, and The Wiz, with Michael Jackson. Before What's Happening, she starred in the Broadway version of The Wiz, as the Wicked Witch of the West.
 
60.
Nipsey Russell
Nipsey Russell was born in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1918. He got his start in Rock and Roll Review and other music revues in the 1950s. In the 1960s Russell achieved his first major role as Officer Anderson in Car 54, Where Are You?. After being on the show for a year, Russell was a mainstay on variety shows, appearing on Laugh-In...
 
63.
Bubba Smith
The athletically gifted 6' 7" Charles Aaron "Bubba" Smith played defensive end / defensive tackle for the National Football League's Baltimore Colts (1967-1971), Oakland Raiders (1973-1974), and Houston Oilers (1975-1976). After the conclusion of his football career, Smith moved into a TV & film career...
 
64.
 
65.
Vanity
Vanity was a glamorous Canadian model and lead singer of the all-girl group "Vanity 6". She specialized in playing sultry female characters often in trouble with the law. Vanity was born Denise Katrina Matthews in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada, the daughter of Helga Senyk and James Levia Matthews...
 
66.
 
67.
Flip Wilson
Writer, Flip
 
68.
Debbi Morgan
Debbie Morgan was born September 20, 1956 in Dunn, North Carolina, to Lora and George Morgan, Jr., she moved to New York City when she was three months old. Debbie's earliest film role was in Cry Uncle . She played the role of Olga Winter. Her most memorable role was on the television series All My Children...
 
69.
Sidney Poitier
A native of Cat Island, The Bahamas (though born in Miami during a mainland visit by his parents), Poitier grew up in poverty as the son of farmers Evelyn (Outten) and Reginald James Poitier, who also drove a cab. He had little formal education and at the age of 15 was sent to Miami to live with his brother...
 
70.
Helen Martin
Actress, 227
 
71.
Esther Rolle
Actress, Good Times
Best known for the role of Florida Evans on the 1970s sitcoms "Maude" and "Good Times," African-American actress Esther Rolle proved to be as spirited and iron-willed off-camera as well. The gap-toothed actress with the gravelly voice was born in Pompano Beach, Florida, the 10th child of 18 born to Caribbean farming immigrants...
 
72.
Stacey Dash
Actress, Clueless
Stacey Dash was born in the Bronx, New York. Stacy knew that she wanted to act, and from an early age began to act professionally. She made regular appearances on The Cosby Show, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and also St. Elsewhere. At 21 she made her feature film debut in Enemy Territory, which was quickly followed by Moving...
 
73.
Alfonso Ribeiro
Alfonso Ribeiro was born in New York on September 21, 1971. Alfonso's family is from Trinidad & Tobago. Although rumor has been that he is of Dominican descent, he has stated in an interview that this is false. Neither he nor his family are from the Dominican Republic; they originate from Trinidad & Tobago...
 
74.
Harry Belafonte
Harold George Belafonte was born in New York City. He attended George Washington High School, where he was on the track team. In 1944 he left high school and joined the Navy. His wife, Julie Robinson, was a featured dancer in Katherine Dunham's dance troupe. Both Harry and Julie were, and still are, extremely active in the civil rights struggle.
 
75.
Marla Gibbs
Armed with an acid dry wit and a full arsenal of sarcasm and sass, African-American character comedienne Marla Gibbs showed up on 70s TV with a bang in middle age (44). Landing the feisty maid role on the popular ground-breaking CBS comedy, The Jeffersons, eventually led to her very own sitcom, 227...
 
76.
Larenz Tate
Larenz Tate was born on the west side of Chicago to Larry and Peggy Tate, the youngest of three brothers. His brothers are actors Larron Tate and Lahmard J. Tate. In 1984, Larenz and his family moved to California. It was while living in California that Larenz's parents got him and his brothers involved in a drama program at the Inner City Cultural Center...
 
77.
Ron O'Neal
Actor, Super Fly
Forever tagged as the super baaaaaaad "Super Fly," actor Ron O'Neal has spent his entire post 70s career trying to break the chains of a stereotype that made him his fortune. Of tough, humble beginnings, Ron was the son of a wannabe jazz musician who became a factory worker in order to support the family...
“ Super Fly Priest Youngblood ” - SteelKeez
 
78.
Jasmine Guy
Actor-dancer-director Jasmine Guy has enjoyed a diverse career in television, theater and film. She began her professional career at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York City. Jasmine starred on Broadway in the original productions of Beehive and Leader of the Pack, and reprised hit productions of Grease...
 
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81.
Malcolm-Jamal Warner
Emmy-nominated actor and director Malcolm-Jamal Warner was born in Jersey City, New Jersey. He was named after Malcolm X and legendary jazz pianist Ahmad Jamal. Warner first rose to national prominence by starring on the celebrated and long-running classic television series "The Cosby Show."...
 
82.
Lark Voorhies
Lark Voorhies was born on 25 March 1974 in Nashville, Tennessee. She first began acting at the age of two but postponed her acting career until the age of 11, when she appeared on Small Wonder. Lark later starred as Lisa Turtle in Good Morning, Miss Bliss, the predecessor to NBC's popular teen series Saved by the Bell...
“ Lisa Turtle saved by the Bell ” - SteelKeez
 
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84.
Jim Kelly
With his funky Afro hairstyle, super cool attitude and superb karate skills, Jim Kelly was instantly identifiable, and one of the top martial arts film stars of the early 1970s. After appearing in a minor film role, Kelly's second screen effort was as one of the invited guests to the deadly Han's Island in Enter the Dragon...
 
85.
Apollonia Kotero
Actress, Purple Rain
Apollonia was born Patricia Kotero in Santa Monica, California, to Mexican parents, Maria S. (Torres), a caregiver, and Victor Manuel Kotero, a restaurant manager. She initially pursued fame and fortune via work as an actress, singer and a model. After winning the Miss San Pedro beauty competition and a stint cheerleader for the Los Angeles Rams in the 1980's...
 
86.
Hal Williams
Actor, 227
A veteran professional actor who has co-starred as a television series regular in NINE, prime time, HIT series, and has established himself solidly in both the areas of comedy and drama. Hal's latest projects include Disney Family Channel's "Snow 2: Brain Freeze" and Hallmark's "Generation Gap" - both released 2008...
 
87.
James A. Watson Jr.
James A. Watson, Jr. Biography as of Nov. 9, 2014. Mr. Watson has enjoyed a working career through four decades in San Francisco, New York and Hollywood. Having trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (Visiting the U.S.) James has performed with major theater companies such as "The American Conservatory Theater" in San Francisco...
 
88.
Mike Evans
Writer, Good Times
Clean cut and smoothly handsome as a youth, Mike Evans got on board the Norman Lear TV train in the early 1970s and took a straight ride to sitcom stardom in both a landmark comedy series and its black-oriented spin-off. Born Michael Jonas Evans in Salisbury, North Carolina, on November 3, 1949...
 
89.
Isabel Sanford
Isabel Sanford was a Broadway actress for over thirty years before moving to Hollywood. She made numerous guest appearances on TV, including a stint as a supporting cast member on The Carol Burnett Show. Until her passing, Isabel continued to act frequently, most recently in a series of commercials for Old Navy stores with The Jeffersons co-star...
 
90.
Calvin Lockhart
Bahamian-born Calvin Lockhart first caught moviegoers' attention in the supercharged urban films Cotton Comes to Harlem and Halls of Anger before becoming a fairly steady fixture in the "blaxploitation" movies of the early-to-mid 1970s. Born Bert Cooper to a large family in Nassau on October 18, 1934, he...
 
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92.
Whitman Mayo
Noted for portraying characters older than his actual age, Whitman Mayo was in his early 40s in the early 1970s when he first played the sexagenarian "Grady" on "Sandford & Son" -- a role that popularized the expression "Good Goobily Goop!" Nearly thirty years later his "Grady" role had just about caught up with him in terms of age and...
“ Shady Grady from Sanford and Son ” - SteelKeez
 
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98.
Eazy-E
Eric Lynn Wright, better known by his stage name Eazy-E, was an American rapper who performed solo and as a member of the group NWA Wright is affectionately called "The Godfather Of Gangsta Rap." He was born in Compton, California. After dropping out of high school in the tenth grade, he...