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Powerhouse actor Chuck Patterson (pictured), who is credited for paving the way for African-American actors trying to make it on Broadway, passed away two days before Christmas at age 68 from undisclosed causes, according to the New York Daily News.

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Patterson, whose career spanned over three decades, was born in Memphis, Tenn. He began his acting career in 1972, and even though he has appeared in dozens of films, television, and off-Broadway roles, he will always be remembered for breaking ground for his fellow Black actors on Broadway.

In 1975, when acting giant George C. Scott cast Patterson for a part in the Broadway play “Death Of A Salesman,” it created quite a buzz. Patterson played the role of “Bernard,” the neighbor’s son, in the Tony-nominated show. His casting was historic; for up until to that point, the role had always gone to White actors.

In addition to his ambitious acting career, Patterson also directed for the famed Ensemble Studio Theater and New Federal Theater as well as others. Patterson’s last starring role on Broadway was in the 1997 show “Proposals.”

On the big screen, Patterson’s memorable performance in the Robert Townsend-directed 1991 heartwarming musical drama film “The Five Heartbeats,” where he co-starred with actress Diahann Carroll (pictured), as Jimmy Potter, the Heartbeat’s manager, will never be forgotten.

Patterson is survived by his second wife, playwright Cori Thomas, and stepdaughter Natasha Newman.  Funeral plans are still being mapped out.


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