Nick Ashford, one-half of the legendary Motown songwriting duo Ashford & Simpson that penned elegant, soulful classics for Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye, has died at the age of 69 from throat cancer.
Ronald “Butch” Lewis, known in the fight industry for tenaciously landing his light heavyweight champion Michael Spinks a massive $13.5 million purse for what turned out to be a brutal, one round KO at the hands of Iron Mike Tyson, apprently suffered a massive heart attack. Lewis, age 65 and more active in recent years in the music and TV fields than in boxing, was in or around his stately home in Delaware when he went into cardiac arrest.
Today I ventured to the Wizard World Philadelphia Comic Con with three goals in mind. To meet Pam Grier, Richard Roundtree and Billy Dee Williams. As my business partner and I made our trek, we talked about our continued love of the 1970’s, the films, the animation from the Saturday morning cartoons and the comics. We even discussed how this could be a small turning point in our lives as we continue to follow our passion by meeting these 1970’s film icons.
I had an opportunity to meet Billy Dee Williams at Comic Con in Philly and take a picture with him. He was a extremely approachable and when I mentioned the Museum of UnCut Funk he expressed an interest in our project and wanted to know more about what we were doing.
Clarice Taylor, the actress and comedian best known for playing grandmothers on “The Cosby Show” and “Sesame Street,” has died at the age of 93. Taylor died of congestive heart failure in her home in Englewood, N.J., on Monday, said her son, William Taylor. During a career that spanned five decades, Taylor performed on radio and TV, in film and on stage, including in the original Broadway cast of the musical “The Wiz.”
Born in Santa Barbara, California, the 75-year-old cartoonist/animator/writer studied illustration at Art Center College of Art and Design. Floyd began his Disney career fresh out of art school, as an animator and in-betweener (an artist who creates intermediate frames for smooth transitions between two images).
Michael Ray Charles was born in 1967 in Lafayette, Louisiana, and graduated from McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana, in 1985. In college, he studied advertising design and illustration, eventually moving into painting, his preferred medium. Charles also received an MFA degree from the University of Houston in 1993.
Kerry James Marshall was born in 1955 in Birmingham, Alabama, and was educated at the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles, from which he received a BFA, and an honorary doctorate in 1999. The subject matter of his paintings, installations, and public projects is often drawn from Black popular culture, and is rooted in the geography of his upbringing: “You can’t be born in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1955 and grow up in South Central, Los Angeles near the Black Panthers headquarters, and not feel like you’ve got some kind of social responsibility.
The 1970s produced the film genre that would become known as ‘Blaxploitation’. These films were made specifically with an urban Black audience in mind. These movies were larger-than-life, action-packed and full of funk and soul music. These films also incorporated progressive social and political commentary. From Pam Grier to Bill Cosby, check out who delved into this genre and what the actors have been doing since the 1970s.
Janet MacLachlan, who played the compassionate schoolteacher in Martin Ritt’s Oscar-nominated “Sounder” (1972), has died at age 77. A highly respected stage, film and television actress, Maclachlan was known for a serious, no-nonsense style that led her to be often cast as a judge, nurse, doctor, psychiatrist, teacher or social worker. She was highly visible during the transitional period of the 1960s and 70s, when African-Americans fought against negative stereotypes on screen and began to make significant inroads in front of and behind the cameras.
The Museum of UnCut Funk is all about celebrating the power of THE FUNK and of 1970’s Black Culture. As we continue to provide information on one of the most powerful and productive decades in Black history, we also want to pay homage those those who passed this year who were major players during this period and beyond.
An internationally acclaimed opera and concert singer, Mattiwilda Dobbs has a voice often compared to the clear and resonant sound of a bell and she is known for warm, intimate performances. Only two Blacks sang at the Metropolitan Opera before her, and, appearing in Rigoletto in 1956, she was the first Black to perform a romantic lead on that stage.