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Joel Fluellen

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Biography

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Actor
Born:
1909 in Louisiana
Death:
February 2, 1990 in Los Angeles, CA
Biography
African-American actor Joel Fluellen was a respected stage performer in both all-black and integrated productions throughout the '40s. He was tentative about entering films due to the limited range of roles available for actors of his race. Certainly Fluellen had nothing to be ashamed of in such assignments as the title character's brother in The Jackie Robinson Story (1950), but such parts were the exception rather than the rule. For the most part Fluellen found himself cast as noble natives in jungle-oriented films and TV programs, with the occasional worthwhile roles in films like Friendly Persuasion (1956). Not one to hide his opinions, especially in the '40s when non-white performers were expected to keep quiet and accept whatever was given them, Fluellen lobbied loud and long for better parts and working conditions for his fellow African-American performers, and was gratified to see the picture improving in the early '70s. Still, his own roles ranged from adequate to tiny, though he invariably made an indelible impression in such black-oriented films as A Raisin in the Sun (1962), The Learning Tree (1969) and The Bingo Long Travelling All-Stars and Motor Kings (1975). After a long illness, Joel Fluellen died at age 81, of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
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