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.
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