Published: July 5, 2020 9:49:42 AM
Earl Cameron, who was one of the first black actors to appear in mainstream British films and played supporting roles in titles such as James Bond and Doctor Who’s Entertaining Icons in his 80s in the UN thriller The Interpreter Have already died before appearing. . He was 102 years old.
According to The Royal Gazette, a newspaper in his native Bermuda, Cameron died on Friday. The British newspaper The Guardian quoted the actor’s agent as saying that he died at home in Warwickshire, England.
According to Cameron’s British Film Institute biography, Cameron starred to earn money during World War II and paired it with theatrical roles and training from Ira Eldridge’s granddaughter, Ira Eldridge.
His break in films also broke barriers for British cinema. Cameron was cast in one of the acting roles in Pool of London, a 1951 crime noir film that became the first British film to have an interracial relationship. His character, Johnny Lambert, is a businessman seaman who meets a white woman, while leaving the shore.
In the 1950s Cameron continued to make films, sometimes in conservative roles such as a witch doctor and a deadly rebel leader in British Kenya, and sometimes in roles designed to accept conservatism, such as The portrayal of a doctor in Simba also dealt with the Mau Mau rebellion in the 1955 film Kenya.
He earned his 007 strips in the fourth James Bond film Thunderball in 1965, playing an intelligence operative in the Bahamas opposite Sean Connery. During the 1950s and 1960s, he supplemented his film work with consecutive British TV roles, including two episodes of Doctor Who in 1966.
“Unless it was specified that it was a part for a black actor, they would not consider a black actor for this part. And they would not consider converting a white part to a black part,” Cameron Told the Guardian in a 2017 interview.
“So that was my problem. I got mostly small parts, and it was disheartening – not only for me but for other Black actors. We had a very hard time getting meaningful roles.”
In 1972, Cameron had to work with another actor born in the Bahamas, breaking barriers for Black film actors. Sidney Poitier played Cameron as ambassador in an African country, A Warm December, in which Poitier starred and directed.
Born in 1917 as the youngest of six children in Bermuda, Cameron arrived in England in 1939 after joining the British Merchant Marine. After Britain’s entry into World War II in the same year, “it was almost impossible for a black person to get a job of any kind,” and had no qualifications, Cameron would call back.
“In 1939 I came from Bermuda, a very racist island, the degree of racism in England did not surprise me. I grew up with it, ”he told The Royal Gazette in a 2018 interview.
Cameron appeared in several major Hollywood films late in his life, including The Interpreters with Nicole Kidman and Sean Penn (2005); The Queen with Helen Mirren (2006) and Inception (2010).
Queen Elizabeth II named her Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in 2009 for her contribution to British entertainment.
“At a time when the entire world is examining the history of people of color, Earl Cameron’s life and legacy gives us pause and recalls how he broke barriers and set his humble beginnings as his path can go.” Bermuda chief Burt told The Royal Gazette late Friday night.
Cameron is survived by his wife Barbara and their children.
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