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Biography

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Overview (4)

Date of Birth 1 March 1930Hartford, Connecticut, USA
Date of Death 27 August 1990Los Angeles, California, USA  (lymph cancer)
Birth NameJames Arthur Johnson
Height 6' 2" (1.88 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Actor Raymond St. Jacques was born James Arthur Johnson in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1930, but he and younger sister Barbara were raised in Depression-era New Haven after their parents' divorce. He started writing and performing in his own short plays in elementary school and developed a strong interest in acting after appearing in a production of "Othello". A stint with the Air Force in 1952 during the Korean War temporarily interrupted his professional momentum, but he managed to arrange plays and entertain servicemen during his stay of duty. Upon his discharge, he refocused, auditioned and was accepted into both the Actor's Studio and Herbert Berghof's Institute while modeling, dish washing and working as a sales clerk at Bloomingdale's to make ends meet. At around this time, he changed his stage moniker from the very common name of Raymond Johnson to Ray Saint Jacques (later Raymond St. Jacques) to avoid confusion with other actors. St. Jacques went on to perform for the American Shakespearean Festival, Stratford Connecticut, and, in addition to acting and assistant directing, was relied upon to train other actors in the art of swordplay as he had grown to become an accomplished fencing master. He made his Broadway bow in the 1955 musical "Seventh Heaven" and appeared in various on- and off-Broadway productions including "The Blacks", "Night Life", "The Cool World" and "A Raisin in the Sun". He also continued to performed in the Bard's plays, including "Henry V", "Romeo and Juliet" and "Julius Caesar". He started gracing films in mid-career, making his debut with Black Like Me (1964). His breakthrough role came with the otherwise tepidly-received The Comedians (1967) where he stole the thunder from under husband and wife Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. This led to a series of black-oriented 'stud' roles in Uptight (1968), Change of Mind (1969), Cool Breeze (1972), and notably, If He Hollers, Let Him Go! (1968) (1968) in which he shared some torrid and controversial bed scenes with Barbara McNair that made the "Sex in the Cinema" pages of Playboy magazine. He also made history as the first black actor to appear in a regular role on a western series, playing Simon Blake on Rawhide (1959). St. Jacques moved briefly into producing and directing with the film Book of Numbers (1973), which relayed the stories of various African-Americans during the late 1800s. A regular in a number of TV series, he failed to make a deep impression in any of them to earn him top-flight stardom, but did distinguish himself in an array of guest star roles, over 300 in his career. He was also a noted civil rights activist and lectured both here and abroad on apartheid issues. St. Jacques died of lymph cancer in 1990 at age 60.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net

Trivia (6)

In 1974, Raymond formed his own film company, "St. Jacques Organization, Inc.", which produced and directed the film Book of Numbers (1973).
In 1969 St. Jacques received the NAACP Image Award for Best Motion Picture Actor.
Son Sterling St. Jacques, a dancer and sometime actor, died of AIDS in 1984.
Strong-looking classical stage actor who transferred his talents to black-oriented film roles in the late 60s and 70s.
Became the first black actor to become a regular on a western series during the 1965-1966 season of Rawhide (1959) as cattle drover Simon Blake.

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