African American actors who died with little or no fanfare
Photos, partial bios by Panache Report
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Reggae star Lucky Dube, 43, was shot and killed in an apparent carjacking attempt after dropping his son off in suburban Johannesburg, yesterday. We will provide more details as they come in.
Hi-Five lead singer Tony Thompson was found dead June 1 in his hometown of Waco, Texas of an alleged drug overdose. Police say his body was found outside of an apartment complex around 10:00 pm. Thompson and Hi-Five hit #1 with 1990's "I Like The Way (The Kissing Game)," which was produced by R&B/Hip-Hop producer Teddy Riley. The album also produced singles like "I Can't Wait Another Minute" and "I Just Can't Handle It."
Dino Connor, 28, was the lead singer of the group "H-Town" was killed in 2003 along with his girlfriend. They had just left a recording studio when their vehicle was struck by a SUV that ran a red light. H Town brought us the 90s smash hit, "Knockin The Boots."
Lead singer, Kenny "G-Love," Greene (pictured in the center) of the 90's group "Intro," died of AIDS complications in 2001.
Orish Grinstead founding member of R&B girl group 702 out of Las Vegas, Nevada, passed away on April 20th from kidney failure. She was 27 years old.
Midwest rapper MC Breed, born Eric Breed, was found dead in Ypsilanti, Michigan at the home of a friend on Nov. 22 after suffering kidney failure. He was 36. Months before his death, Breed collapsed on a basketball court and was later rushed to a hospital where he was placed on life support due to kidney failure. He died days after doctors removed him from life support. Breed gained attention as an independent artist with a number of early 1990's albums, including MC Breed & DFC, 20 Below, The New Breed and Funkafied. Breed's career spans 20-years and 13 albums. He collaborated with various West Coast rap stars including Too Short, Warren G and the late Tupac Shakur.
Who can forget cotton candy cutie, Artimus Lamont Bentley who played Hakeem Campbell on Moesha. The Milwaukee native worked with silver screen heavyweights such as Danny Glover on the film Buffalo Soldiers before his untimely death on January 18, 2005. Bentley was killed in a single-car accident as he drove along Highway 118 near Simi Valley in southern California's Ventura County. A police report says his car veered off the road and over an embankment, ejecting him from the vehicle and landing him traffic where he was then struck by five cars. He was 31 and the father of two young daughters.
Actress and fashion model Tamara Dobson, a Baltimore, Maryland native starred in Blaxploitation films, Cleopatra Jones (1973) and Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold (1975). The towering beauty, who stood at 6'2, modeled for Vogue Magazine and earned her degree in fashion illustration from the Maryland Institute College of Art before her death on October 2, 2006. Her brother said she died of complications from pneumonia and multiple sclerosis at the age of 62.
La La Brown (right) pictured with Lyfe Jennings was recently found dead in the basement of a recording studio with her boyfriend. Brown sang on Jenning's S.E.X.
Who can forget the 1980s R&B heart throb music group, the Force M.D's. Before signing with Tommy Boy Records in 1984, The Force MDs wooed Staten Island Ferry riders and New York City passer-bys with their sensual doo-wop/hip hop vocals. I briefly dated T.C.D. aka Antoine Lundy while I lived in Staten Island in 1986. We met while waiting for the Staten Island Ferry one night and the rest was history...at least for a few months.
Not only was he a crooner, but he was smooth.
These young brothers brought us hits like R&B group, with their top-ten R&B hit "Tears," "Tender Love" and "Love is a House." They faded from the music forefront and sadly lost three of their members beginning with the death of Charles "Mercury" Nelson who suffered a fatal heart attack in 1995.
Sweet "TCD" (Lundy) died of Lou Gehrig's disease in 1998 and DJ Dr. Rock died under unknown circumstances. Check out Stevie D's interview with Troy L. Smith (who also happens to by my cousin) of The Foundation.
Wylie Draper, the actor who portrayed Michael Jackson in the mini-series, "The Jacksons: An American Dream," died a year after the show aired from a rare form of leukemia.
Doreen Waddell, a former vocalist with the groups Soul II Soul and KLF, died in a traffic accident, after running from a store where she had been accused of shoplifting. The 36-year-old talented singer was killed March 1, 2002 after she was hit by three cars on the A27 highway in Shoreham southern England. Police reports said she ran from a supermarket after being confronted about shoplifting and items from the store were found scattered across the road.
Natasja Saad, also known as Lil T, Little T and Natasja, was a Danish rapper and reggae singer whose vocals on a popular U.S. and European remix of "Calabria" were her claim to fame. The singer died on June 24, 2007 in a car accident in Spanish Town, Saint Catherine, Jamaica.
Melanie Janene Thornton of the Eurodance group La Bouche, who brought us hits "Be My Lover" and "Sweet Dreams" during the 90s died in a plane crash near Bassersdorf, Switzerland in 2001.
90s rap artist "Professor X" Carson, whose best-known records are "Funkin' Lesson" and "Fire & Earth (100% Natural)," died in a New York hospital after succumbing to spinal meningitis at the age of 49.
1970s actor, director and screeenwriter Ron O'Neal should be remembered for his role in the 1970s blaxploitation film, Super Fly. He played the role of "Priest." Before his death in 2004, he had a small recurring role on the television show "Living Single," as Synclaire's father. O'Neal died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 66.
Jermaine Stewart started off dancing on the Chicago version of ‘Soul Train’ before he relocated to Los Angeles to appear on the Hollywood version of the show.
‘You Don’t Have To Take Your Clothes Off' singer Jermaine Stewart began his career with the help of singers Boy George and Mikey Craig of ‘Culture Club.’
On March 17, 1997, Stewart died of AIDS in Chicago at the age of 39. Rumor had it that the singer was about to pen a tell-all book detailing homosexual flings he had with famous Black celebs, many of them married. The manuscript for the book disappeared and hasn’t been seen since.
Sexy actor Calvin Lockhart died from complications of a stroke in the Bahamas, recently. He was 72. With his flawless skin, snow white teeth, naturally curly hair, beautiful black eyes, long lashes and that gorgeous smile, Lockhart was every woman's dream man. In January, the Caribbean native made his last movie "Rain," which was filmed in The Bahamas and not yet released. He is survived by his mother, Minerva Cooper; his wife, Jennifer Miles-Lockhart; sons Michael Lockhart and Julien Lockhart Miles; brothers Carney, Eric and Phillip Cooper; sisters, Melba and Delores.
Gene Anthony Ray. He could dance his tail off! We all remember him from the movie and hit television show, "Fame." Ray, a Harlem native, was raised on West 153rd Street in Manhattan. He attended the New York High School of the Performing Arts and Julia Richmond. His raw talent helped him beat out thousands of dance hopefuls for his role in the movie "Fame" and and he went on to appear in the television show.
Ray danced for ‘The Weather Girls’ in their video ‘It’s Raining Men’ and he appeared in a production of Carrie in 1988. He also starred in the film ‘Out Of Sync’ in 1995 and appeared in Dr. Pepper and Diet Coke commercials. Ray's life took a downward spiral and he ended up living overseas where he slept on park benches before suffering a stroke on November 11, 2003. He had been diagnosed HIV positive in 1996.
Chocolate sexy actor Howard Rollins, an Emmy Award winner for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Daytime Drama Series, was most famous for his roles in "Ragtime," "A Soldier's Story" and the television hit "In The Heat of The Night" where he played Virgil Tibbs opposite Carroll O'Connor. Rollins encountered a series of legal troubles that eventually got him banned from the county where "Heat of the Night" was filmed. During this time, Rollins' behavior went from troubled to down right questionable as he appeared on a talk show in feminine attire. The talented actor died of complications from AIDS-related lymphoma in 1996. He was laid to rest in Woodlawn Cemetery in Baltimore, Maryland.