The Info List - Cleavon Little

San Diego City College San Diego State University Juilliard
School American Academy of Dramatic Arts Stephen Watts Kearny High School

Occupation Actor

Years active 1960–1992

Spouse(s) Valerie Wiggins (m. 1972; div. 1974)

Awards Drama Desk Award (Purlie, 1970) Tony Award
Tony Award
(Purlie, 1970) Primetime Emmy Award (Dear John, 1989)

Cleavon Jake Little (June 1, 1939 – October 22, 1992) was an American stage, film, and television actor. He began his career in the late 1960s on the stage. In 1970, he starred in the Broadway production of Purlie, for which he earned both a Drama Desk Award and a Tony Award. His first leading television role was that of the irreverent Dr. Jerry Noland on the ABC sitcom Temperatures Rising (1972–1974). Shortly before the program's conclusion, Little gave what has become his signature performance, portraying Sheriff Bart in the Mel Brooks
Mel Brooks
comedy film Blazing Saddles
Blazing Saddles
(1974). In the 1980s, Little continued to appear in stage productions, films, and in guest spots on television series. In 1989, he won a Primetime Emmy Award for his appearance on the NBC
sitcom Dear John. He later starred on the Fox sitcom True Colors (1991–1992).


1 Early life 2 Career 3 Later career 4 Death 5 Legacy 6 Partial filmography 7 References 8 External links

Early life[edit] Little was born in Chickasha, Oklahoma. He was the brother of singer DeEtta Little, best known for her performance of "Gonna Fly Now", the main theme to Rocky. He was raised in California, graduating in 1957 from Kearny High School[1] and attended San Diego City College, and then San Diego State University, where he earned a bachelor's degree in dramatic arts. After receiving a full scholarship to graduate school at Juilliard, he moved to New York. After completing studies at Juilliard, Little trained at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.[2] Career[edit]

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Melba Moore
Melba Moore
and Cleavon Little
Cleavon Little
in the Broadway musical Purlie

Little made his professional debut in February 1967, appearing off-Broadway at the Village Gate as the Muslim Witch in the original production of Barbara Garson's MacBird. This was followed by the role of Foxtrot in the original production of Bruce Jay Friedman's long-running play Scuba Duba which premiered in October 1967. The following year, he made his first film appearance in a small uncredited role in What's So Bad About Feeling Good?
What's So Bad About Feeling Good?
(1968), and his first television appearance as a guest star on two episodes of Felony Squad. A series of small roles followed in films such as John and Mary (1969) and Cotton Comes to Harlem
Cotton Comes to Harlem
(1970). Little made his Broadway debut in 1969 as Lee Haines in John Sebastian and Murray Schisgal's musical Jimmy Shine
Jimmy Shine
with Dustin Hoffman
Dustin Hoffman
in the title role. In 1970, he returned to Broadway to portray the title role in Ossie Davis's musical Purlie, for which he won the Tony Award
Tony Award
for Best Actor in a Musical and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor in a Musical. A year later, Little was hired as an ensemble player on the syndicated TV variety weekly The David Frost
David Frost
Revue and he portrayed Shogo in Narrow Road to the Deep North on Broadway. In 1971, Little was chosen to portray the blind radio personality Super Soul in the car-chase movie Vanishing Point. The same year, he played Hawthorne Dooley in the pilot for The Waltons
The Waltons
called "The Homecoming: A Christmas Story", helping John-Boy Walton search for his father; then again in season four, in an episode called "The Fighter", about a prizefighter who desired to build a church and be a preacher. He also played a burglar in a 1971 episode of All in the Family
All in the Family
titled "Edith Writes a Song". He then starred on the ABC sitcom Temperatures Rising, which aired in three different iterations from 1972–74, with Little's character of Dr. Jerry Noland as the only common element. In 1974, he starred in the television disaster film The Day the Earth Moved, opposite Jackie Cooper and Stella Stevens. He was also cast as Sheriff Bart in the comedy film Blazing Saddles
Blazing Saddles
(1974), after the studio rejected Richard Pryor, who co-wrote the script. Studio executives were apparently concerned about Pryor's reliability, given his reputation for drug use and unpredictable behavior, and thought Little would be a safer choice. This role earned him a nomination for the BAFTA Award for Most Promising Newcomer to Leading Film Roles. In 1975, Little returned to Broadway to portray the role of Lewis in the original production of Murray Schisgal's All Over Town under the direction of Dustin Hoffman. The following year, he appeared as Willy Stepp in the original production of Ronald Ribman's The Poison Tree at the Ambassador Theatre. He played a supporting role to Richard Pryor in the racing movie Greased Lightning
Greased Lightning
(1977), based on the true life story of Wendell Scott, the first black stock car racing winner in America. Later career[edit] In the years after Blazing Saddles, Little appeared in many less successful films, such as FM (1978), Scavenger Hunt
Scavenger Hunt
(1979), The Salamander (1981), High Risk (1981), Jimmy the Kid
Jimmy the Kid
(1982), Surf II (1984) and Toy Soldiers (1984). He also made guest appearances on The Mod Squad, The Rookies, Police Story, The Rockford Files, The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, ABC Afterschool Specials, The Fall Guy, MacGyver, The Waltons, and a special Christmas episode of ALF. He co-starred opposite Lauren Hutton
Lauren Hutton
and Jim Carrey
Jim Carrey
in the horror comedy Once Bitten (1985). He returned to the New York stage in 1981 in the off-Broadway production The Resurrection of Lady Lester, a "poetic mood song" by OyamO, playing the legendary jazz saxophonist Lester Young. In 1985, Little returned to Broadway to appear as Midge in Herb Gardner's Tony Award-winning play I'm Not Rappaport, reuniting with Dear John star Judd Hirsch
Judd Hirsch
in New York and later on tour. The Broadway cast also featured Jace Alexander and Mercedes Ruehl. In 1989, he had a role in Fletch Lives, the sequel to Fletch (1985). The same year, he appeared in the Dear John episode "Stand by Your Man", for which he won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series, defeating Robert Picardo, Jack Gilford, Leslie Nielsen, and Sammy Davis, Jr.[3] Little was slated to star on the television series Mr. Dugan, where he was to play a black congressman, but that series was poorly received by real black congressmen and was cancelled before making it to air. In 1991, he replaced Frankie Faison as Ronald Freeman, a black dentist married to a white housewife, on the Fox sitcom True Colors. The same year, he also had a supporting role on the television series Bagdad Cafe, appearing in 12 episodes. Later that year, he was cast as a civil-rights lawyer in the docudrama, Separate but Equal, starring Sidney Poitier, who portrayed the first black U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Thurgood Marshall, NAACP lead attorney in the 1954 Supreme Court case desegregating public schools. He also appeared in the television series MacGyver as Frank Colton, half of a bounty hunter brother duo. Little's last appearance as an actor was in a guest role on a 1992 episode of the television series Tales from the Crypt entitled "This'll Kill Ya". Eleven years after his death, he appeared in the music video for "Show Me How to Live" by Audioslave, through archive footage from Vanishing Point. Death[edit] Often afflicted by ulcers and general stomach problems throughout his life, Little died of colorectal cancer on October 22, 1992.[4] His body was cremated and the ashes were scattered into the Pacific Ocean... although his death certificate states they were scattered in New York harbor. Legacy[edit] For Little's contribution to motion pictures, he was honored with a star February 1, 1994, on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.[5] The star is located on the south side of Hollywood Blvd., near El Cerrito Place.[6] Partial filmography[edit]

What's So Bad About Feeling Good?
What's So Bad About Feeling Good?
(1968) – Phil (uncredited) John and Mary (1969) – The Film Director Cotton Comes to Harlem
Cotton Comes to Harlem
(1970) – Lo Boy Vanishing Point (1971) – Super Soul Blazing Saddles
Blazing Saddles
(1974) – Bart Greased Lightning
Greased Lightning
(1977) – Peewee FM (1978) – Prince Scavenger Hunt
Scavenger Hunt
(1979) – Jackson The Salamander (1981) – Major Carl Malinowski, USMC High Risk (1981) – Rockney Jimmy the Kid
Jimmy the Kid
(1982) – Herb Double Exposure (1983) – Police Chief Surf II
Surf II
(1984) – Daddy O Toy Soldiers (1984)
Toy Soldiers (1984)
– Buck E. Nick: A Legend in His Own Mind (1984) – Edmundo Once Bitten (1985) – Sebastian The Gig (1985) – Marshall Wilson Fletch Lives (1989) – Calculus Entropy Murder by Numbers (1990) – David Shelby Goin' to Chicago (1991) – Edward Sr.


^ "1957 Kearny High School Yearbook Online, San Diego CA". Classmates.com. Retrieved 14 July 2014.  ^ "Biography: Cleavon Little". Allmovie. Retrieved 2008-06-07.  ^ The 50th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards (1989). Retrieved 2018-02-24. ^ "Cleavon Little, Award-Winning Actor, Dies at 53". New York Times. October 23, 1992. Retrieved 2010-10-28. Cleavon Little, the actor best remembered for his role as a black sheriff hired to save a redneck town in Mel Brooks's 1974 comedy Blazing Saddles, died yesterday at his home in Sherman Oaks, Calif. He was 53 years old. He died of colon cancer, said David C. Pollick, his publicity agent in Los Angeles.  ^ " Cleavon Little
Cleavon Little
Hollywood Walk of Fame". www.walkoffame.com. Retrieved 2015-11-11.  ^ " Cleavon Little
Cleavon Little
- Hollywood, CA - Citizen Memorials on Waymarking.com". www.waymarking.com. Retrieved 2015-11-11. 

External links[edit]

Biography portal

Cleavon Little
Cleavon Little
on IMDb Cleavon Little
Cleavon Little
at the Internet Broadway Database
Internet Broadway Database
Cleavon Little
Cleavon Little
at the Internet Off-Broadway Database Cleavon Little
Cleavon Little
at the TCM Movie Database Cleavon Little
Cleavon Little
at AllMovie Cleavon Little
Cleavon Little
at Find a Grave

v t e

Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series

Roscoe Lee Browne
Roscoe Lee Browne
(1986) John Cleese
John Cleese
(1987) Cleavon Little
Cleavon Little
(1989) Jay Thomas
Jay Thomas
(1990) Jay Thomas
Jay Thomas
(1991) No Award (1992) David Clennon (1993) Martin Sheen
Martin Sheen
(1994) Carl Reiner
Carl Reiner
(1995) Tim Conway
Tim Conway
(1996) Mel Brooks
Mel Brooks
(1997) Mel Brooks
Mel Brooks
(1998) Mel Brooks
Mel Brooks
(1999) Bruce Willis
Bruce Willis
(2000) Derek Jacobi
Derek Jacobi
(2001) Anthony LaPaglia
Anthony LaPaglia
(2002) Gene Wilder
Gene Wilder
(2003) John Turturro
John Turturro
(2004) Bobby Cannavale
Bobby Cannavale
(2005) Leslie Jordan
Leslie Jordan
(2006) Stanley Tucci
Stanley Tucci
(2007) Tim Conway
Tim Conway
(2008) Justin Timberlake
Justin Timberlake
(2009) Neil Patrick Harris
Neil Patrick Harris
(2010) Justin Timberlake
Justin Timberlake
(2011) Jimmy Fallon
Jimmy Fallon
(2012) Bob Newhart
Bob Newhart
(2013) Jimmy Fallon
Jimmy Fallon
(2014) Bradley Whitford
Bradley Whitford
(2015) Peter Scolari (2016) Dave Chappelle
Dave Chappelle

v t e

Tony Award
Tony Award
for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical


Paul Hartman
Paul Hartman
(1948) Ray Bolger
Ray Bolger
(1949) Ezio Pinza
Ezio Pinza
(1950) Robert Alda
Robert Alda
(1951) Phil Silvers
Phil Silvers
(1952) Thomas Mitchell (1953) Alfred Drake
Alfred Drake
(1954) Walter Slezak
Walter Slezak
(1955) Ray Walston
Ray Walston
(1956) Rex Harrison
Rex Harrison
(1957) Robert Preston (1958) Richard Kiley
Richard Kiley
(1959) Jackie Gleason
Jackie Gleason
(1960) Richard Burton
Richard Burton
(1961) Robert Morse
Robert Morse
(1962) Zero Mostel
Zero Mostel
(1963) Bert Lahr
Bert Lahr
(1964) Zero Mostel
Zero Mostel
(1965) Richard Kiley
Richard Kiley
(1966) Robert Preston (1967) Robert Goulet
Robert Goulet
(1968) Jerry Orbach
Jerry Orbach
(1969) Cleavon Little
Cleavon Little
(1970) Hal Linden
Hal Linden
(1971) Phil Silvers
Phil Silvers
(1972) Ben Vereen
Ben Vereen
(1973) Christopher Plummer
Christopher Plummer
(1974) John Cullum (1975)


George Rose (1976) Barry Bostwick
Barry Bostwick
(1977) John Cullum (1978) Len Cariou
Len Cariou
(1979) Jim Dale (1980) Kevin Kline
Kevin Kline
(1981) Ben Harney (1982) Tommy Tune
Tommy Tune
(1983) George Hearn (1984) No award (1985) George Rose (1986) Robert Lindsay (1987) Michael Crawford
Michael Crawford
(1988) Jason Alexander
Jason Alexander
(1989) James Naughton
James Naughton
(1990) Jonathan Pryce
Jonathan Pryce
(1991) Gregory Hines (1992) Brent Carver (1993) Boyd Gaines
Boyd Gaines
(1994) Matthew Broderick
Matthew Broderick
(1995) Nathan Lane
Nathan Lane
(1996) James Naughton
James Naughton
(1997) Alan Cumming
Alan Cumming
(1998) Martin Short
Martin Short
(1999) Brian Stokes Mitchell
Brian Stokes Mitchell


Nathan Lane
Nathan Lane
(2001) John Lithgow
John Lithgow
(2002) Harvey Fierstein
Harvey Fierstein
(2003) Hugh Jackman
Hugh Jackman
(2004) Norbert Leo Butz
Norbert Leo Butz
(2005) John Lloyd Young
John Lloyd Young
(2006) David Hyde Pierce
David Hyde Pierce
(2007) Paulo Szot
Paulo Szot
(2008) David Alvarez, Trent Kowalik
Trent Kowalik
and Kiril Kulish (2009) Douglas Hodge (2010) Norbert Leo Butz
Norbert Leo Butz
(2011) Steve Kazee
Steve Kazee
(2012) Billy Porter (2013) Neil Patrick Harris
Neil Patrick Harris
(2014) Michael Cerveris
Michael Cerveris
(2015) Leslie Odom Jr. (2016) Ben Platt (2017)

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 17423072 LCCN: n94092882 ISNI: 0000 0001 0875 4315 GND: 136022081 BNF: cb140385448 (data) MusicBrainz: 102c3b46-4719-4ed8-bde5-aa63dbd928f7 BNE: XX1556390 SN