Albert Cornelius Freeman Jr. was born March 21, 1934, in San Antonio, where he lived with his mother after she and his father, a jazz pianist, divorced. He served in the Air Force and attended Los Angeles City College before heading to New York for theater roles.
He made his Broadway debut in 1960 in the short-lived “The Long Dream,” based on Richard Wright’s novel. He also appeared in “Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright,” James Baldwin’s “Blues for Mister Charlie” and the 1970 musical “Look to the Lilies” on Broadway, as well as New York productions of “The Slave” and “Dutchman,” both by LeRoi Jones aka Amiri Baraka.
He also starred in and received an Emmy nomination for his role as Malcolm X in the 1979 miniseries “Roots: The Next Generations” and later portrayed Elijah Muhammad in Spike Lee’s epic film “Malcolm X,”. He earned an NAACP Image Award for playing Malcolm X’s mentor in Lee’s 1992 biography. He also gave another unforgettable performance in the role of Poppa in the 1995 film, Once Upon a Time When We Were Colored. Mr. Freeman had taught acting for many years at Howard and also served as chairman and artistic director of its theater arts department.
Al Freeman also played Capt. Ed Hall on the ABC soap opera “One Life to Live” for 17 years, winning a Daytime Emmy for best actor in 1979. His film credits, mainly in the 1960s, include “Black Like Me,” “Dutchman,” “The Detective” and “Finian’s Rainbow.” Al Freeman Jr. passed on August 9, 2012. Below are posters for two of the films in which Mr. Freeman appeared in.
These posters are in the collection of The Museum of UnCut Funk.