A Picture of Dorian Harewood: The Hardest Working Man on Television

WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - OCTOBER 5: Author Dorian Harewood poses at the 1st Annual West Hollywood Book Fair on October 5, 2002 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Michel Boutefeu/Getty Images)

Dorian Harewood at the 1st Annual West Hollywood Book Fair on October 5, 2002 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Michel Boutefeu/Getty Images)

With just under forty years of experience on stage, screen, and the recording booth, Dorian Harewood has been there, done that. It could be argued that he was Denzel before Denzel, with his handsome looks, charming presence, and deep voice.

Throughout his career, Harewood has appeared in a number of classic films and TV programs.



One of his first performances was a musical stage-play, “The Corn Is Green” co-starring film legend Bettie Davis, before making the leap into television as a bit player in such 1970’s shows as “Swiss Family Robinson,” and the TV movie “Foster & Laurie,” before getting his big film break in the 1976 musical drama “Sparkle” playing Levi.

"Foster and Laurie" publicity still (1975)

“Foster and Laurie” publicity still (1975)

In R&B group EnVouge’s video for the cover of “Something He Can Feel” (from the “Sparkle” soundtrack) from their 1992 album, Harewood appears among the all male audience as the singers shimmy on stage in their red dresses.

After “Sparkle,” Harewood continued to dominate the TV landscape in shows like “Kojak,” “Columbo,” and “Family” before landing a role in the made for TV movie, “The Siege” (1978).

Harewood in “The Siege” (skip to 6:16):

In “Roots: The Next Generation” (1979) Harewood portrays Simon Haley, father of Alex Haley, who’s character ages from age 24 to 77.

After the success of “Roots 2,” Harewood appeared in a slate of made for TV movies and starring roles in two short run series, before playing the lead role in “The Jessie Owens Story” in 1984.

More TV cameos followed, including a failed Aaron Spelling production (1985’s “Glitter”), and then Harewood scored his first voice job for the animated show “Johnny Quest” (1986), and the short lived series, “Sky Commanders” a year later.

1987 was a busy year for Harewood. In between his TV work, he showed up in the film that he’s best known for… Stanley Kubrick’s Vietnam saga, “Full Metal Jacket.”

Harewood’s character, Eight-Ball, could be the first portrayal of a black Vietnam soldier in combat on film, but his scene with the Vietnamese prostitute cemented it’s place in pop-culture history.

Over the next ten years Harewood was featured in mostly voice-work.

In 1988 he released a R&B album, “Love Will Stop Calling.”

Some of his other career highlights of the period include the voice of Shredder in the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” animated show(1989), as Maurice Starr in the New Kids on the Block Saturday morning show (1990), as Jax in “Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm” (1996), and as Tombstone in the “Spider-Man” series (1995), among others.

And then in 2003, Harewood performed his first voice-acting role for a video game in “Astro Boy,” based on the anime series of the same name. He would lend his voice to three other video games proving to be a jack of all trades.

Also in 2003, he took on the role of Capt. Ronald Hicks in the canceled-too-early NBC drama “Boomtown.”

Harewood’s resume has no gaps between the years; sometimes he worked on multiple projects in the same year.

So in honor of his recent birthday (Aug 6) take time to check out some of his work.


Kai Arnold, is a former TV newsroom employee who currently lives in Selma, AL. His his favorite sitcom is Sanford & Son. Send complaints to @KIDVIDEO55

7 Comments

  1. Plllleeeeze…. “It could be argued that he was Denzel before Denzel, with his handsome looks, charming presence, and deep voice” I don’t know who you were talking about?! And, if a person mentioned his name before reading this post, they’d be hard pressed to mention a film or TV role in which he stood out. Facts tell the real story, . “a bit player in such 1970’s shows as “Swiss Family Robinson,” and the TV movie “Foster & Laurie,” ..Harewood appears among the all male audience as the singers shimmy on stage in their red dresses” … bit parts in shows like “Kojak,” “Columbo,” and “Family” before landing a small role in the made for TV movie, “The Siege” (1978)” … :Harewood appeared in a slate of corny made for TV movies and starring roles in two short run series,” … for ten years Harewood was featured in mostly voice-work. His 1988 R&B album, “Love Will Stop Calling.” can be found in Kmart’s dollar bins” … Also in 2003, his big break was a big bust when he took on the role of Capt. Ronald Hicks in the canceled-too-late NBC drama “Boomtown.”.So in honor of his recent birthday (Aug 6), if you’re waiting on your bus to arrive and need a good “what’s his name and where did he go” moment, take time to check out Kai Arnold’s secret lover. Be forewarned, he will not be found on anyone’s list of Handsome Black Men Back In The Day. Hey, in fact, this article (minus the Denzel reference) would have been spot on if you were speaking of the black actor Bill Cobbs. He has starred in over 120 movies and television roles. Has kissed a few white women who he didn’t murder and manged to hold onto his wallet too (No brown sugar daddy in him). His estimated worth is $400 million. .And he has a deep voice and ski slope nose just like Dorian Harewood, the not-so hardest working man on television/film.

    I just recently saw in him an episode of OWN’S “Greenleaf”, a series I am losing faith in but continue to watch. I also recently saw him in “Music Of The Mind, with Aunjanue Ellis. A story about a beautiful street musician suffering from memory loss and a disheartened neuroscientist intent on helping her, bringing together the city of New Orleans and the jazz that made it famous. A wonderfully well-performed movie, co-starring Aunjanue Ellis. Btw, if you liked her performance in The Book Of Negroes, MOTM will surely smooth your soul.

    Dang, how did I go from the no singing slope head Dorian Harewood to the up and coming actress Aunjanue <–(don't ask me how to pronounce that) Ellis? That's an easy answer. I was running my mouth (as usual) with no breaks on. That said, I can't wait to turn on my faucet to let out Nate Parkers"Birth Of A Nation". Aunjanue is in it too, and some folks are giving it a YES-Sir.

    I'm warming up my mouth as we speak, Get ready!

      • You took the time to write it so thank you for doing that. We may not agree but that’s the fun part. I can’t stand a bunch of bobbin’ head (up and down) negroes who are afraid to disagree.

        Controversy makes the world go round and new ideas are born. Now, didn’t you have a youtube series… or something like that? Hey, as someone once told me, it’s a po’ frog who doesn’t speak on his own lily pad. So, how about spreading the news on you?

        If there’s one thing the new S&A needs is more posts that promote conversation. I think when they broke away from IndieWire they lost voices/brothers from the other mother… if you know what I mean. In other words, Indiewire brought eyes with differing opinions. Without them… well, new ideas are a good thang. Anyway, thanks again for kick-starting my brain.

    • Very underrated actor, had a great part in JCVD’s Sudden Death around 1996. It’s a silly action movie, but a lot of fun, and Harewood really elevated the material. Worth checking out.

  2. Enjoyed reading this. For those of us, of a certain age, there was a time when Dorian Harewood and his female counterpart, Debbi Morgan, RULED television, every time a back role came up, they were cast…LOL. Fascinating to read about some of the other projects, especially the voice work, about which I had no idea…

  3. Thanks for this article. I absolutely knew who Mr. Harewood was because despite Hollywood’s indifference to portraying strong black men in prominent roles in the ’70s and ’80s, he managed to exude a strength and intelligence that meant a lot to a little black boy like me.
    Also, big props to anybody of color who has managed to carve out a 40 year career in Hollywood!

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