I fell in love with Bernie Casey when I saw the film Cleopatra Jones. I have been a fan every since. I hope you will enjoy our tribute to Bernie and his contributions to the film industry.
Bernie Casey was born on June 8, 1939, in Wyco, West Virginia. Bernie and his family moved to Columbus, Ohio where he attended Garfield Elementary School, Champion Junior High, and Columbus East High School. Casey had an interest in painting and drawing, and later developed his athletic abilities for basketball and football.
Bernie attended Bowling Green State University in 1957, on a athletic scholarship, but he remained intent on becoming an artist. Bernie excelled in football and was considered a key player in the school’s 1959 championship season. Bernie was named a member of the Little All American Team, and was also competitive in track and field. Bernie received his B.S. degree in Art Education from BGSU in 1961, and in 1966 he received his Master of Fine Arts degree.
In 1961 Bernie was drafted into the NFL in the first round by the San Francisco 49ers, with whom he would spend six seasons, followed by two years with the Los Angeles Rams. In the 1967 season Bernie Casey caught 53 passes for a career-high 871 yards and eight touchdowns, Casey was named to the 1968 Pro Bowl team. Bernie became disillusioned with the NFL and professional sports and return to his creative pursuits.
Bernie’s first film was Guns of the Magnificent Seven circa 1969, a sequel to The Magnificent Seven. In the same year he wrote Look at the People: Poems and Paintings, a book of art and poetry. Bernie would publish two additional books and in 1971 produce an independent film entitled Bernie Casey: Black Artist, which focused on his thoughts and observations as a painter. As an artist, Casey has produced more than 30 solo exhibitions. He received an honorary doctorate degree from The Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, Georgia, where he served for twenty years as chairman of the board and advocated for arts education.
Some of Bernie Casey’s 1970’s filmography includes: …tick…tick…tick… (1970); Black Chariot (1971); Boxcar Bertha (1972); Gargoyles (1972); Black Gunn (1972); Hit Man (1972); Cleopatra Jones (1973); Maurie (1973); Cornbread, Earl and Me (1975); Dr. Black, Mr. Hyde (1976); The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976) and Brothers (1977).
Black Chariot was an independently-made crime film financed by writer-director Robert L. Goodwin with money raised door-to-door in the Black community. Bernie Casey stars as an idealistic militant who joins an activist group modeled on the Black Panthers. When one of the members betrays the organization, its members seek revenge. Part of the movie was shot on videotape and transferred to film.
Below you can see some of the posters from Bernie Casey films as well as some of the press coverage for Black Chariot.
Sources: New York Times, Wikipedia, Temple of Schlock, Bio.com and IMDB