Remembering Stage and Screen Actor Chuck Patterson

Chuck Patterson was a member of The Negro Ensemble Company. He played 5 seasons on the NEC mainstage and 2 seasons in the Classic Stage Company. Chuck  was simultaneously a Tony award and Hollywood icon and underground status as one of us (performers). He would come to do readings and participate at Garland Thompson‘s Frank Silvera’s Writer’s Workshop or be seen in New York and Cleveland, or even at Broadway Dance Center and then we could all go see him in the Five Heart Beats and come back and talk to him after. He was accessible and at the same time set a high standard for the art even in his presence. Whether you saw him in a studio or met crossing the street, like a nation unto itself, Chuck would tangibly impart on us the spirit of excellence and power. He was one who could share his stardom with those who questioned their own.

What a thrill to see him and Delroy Lindo play on Broadway in August Wilson‘s Joe Turner’s Come and Gone! The impact of witnessing August Wilson‘s masterful script and tapping to the Pattin’ Juba circle scene called us. It impressed on us the power of music, rhythm and words for social change and self-actualization. Whatever we thought was challenging us could be overcome through synchronized intention. Power moving as a group one accord! Moving passed the rules, constraints and mangled structures that have ultimately made us stronger and more determined to express our cultural nationhood.

I remember auditioning for him at Rosetta Le Noire‘s AMAS Theater on 105th St and 5th Ave for a play called Fort ‘E’ Ville by Gene Allen based on Ephesians 6. Brenda Brown and I produced the play out of the Drama Ministry at Bethel Gospel Assembly, a high school Bishop Ezra Williams bought for a dollar and is now a church and educational center. We toured it in inner city parks and the Carolinas. Chuck Patterson took it forward by creating an Off Broadway musical. He had his hands in acting, music and dance so he had access to generously guiding young performer and writers!

Thank you Chuck for your example, you dignity, your passion, your unstoppable excellence! 

Talented director and performer of stage and screen! You are missed!

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Chuck Patterson, Broadway star, dead at 68
Patterson broke ground for other African-American performers when George C. Scott cast him in ‘Death of a Salesman’ in 1975 as the neighbor’s son Bernard, a role previously played only by white actors.
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By Corky Siemaszko / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Monday, December 30, 2013, 4:40 PM

Chuck Patterson broke ground for African-American actors on Broadway.

Chuck Patterson, who helped pave the way for other talented African-American actors trying to make it on Broadway, died two days before Christmas. He was 68 and lived in Harlem.

Patterson was cast back in 1975 by actor/director George C. Scott in his Tony-nominated production of “Death of a Salesman” as the neighbor’s son Bernard — a role that had been played up till then by white actors.

Diahann Carroll and Chuck Patterson in scenes from the movie “The Five Heartbeats.”

He went on to appear in dozens of Broadway and Off-Broadway productions as well as movied like “The Five Heartbeats” and TV shows like “Law and Order.”

Chuck Patterson, Diahann Carroll, Harold Nicholas and Harry J. Lennix in scenes from the movie “The Five Heartbeats.”

Patterson was a company member of the Negro Ensemble for five season and turned to directing in his later years in and around New York City and at the Cleveland Play House in Ohio.

Born Feb. 11, 1945 in Memphis, Tenn., Patterson is survived by his second wife, playwright Cori Thomas, and stepdaughter Natasha Newman. Funeral plans are still being finalized.

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December 26 4:12 PM .2013
👤by BWW News Desk

Actor and director Chuck Patterson has passed away. Patterson starred on Broadway and Off-Broadway in numerous plays. He also directed for Ensemble Studio Theater, New Federal Theater and others.

Patterson last starred on Broadway in 1997’s Proposals. His past Broadway credits include Two Trains Running, Home, Death of a Salesman and All God’s Chillun Got Wings. He also starred in George Wolfe’s Blade to the Heat at The Public Theater off-Broadway. His other off-Broadway and regional theater credits include leading and featured roles in The Odyssey, Jitney, Fences, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, The African Company Presents Richard III (Audelco Award), Harvey, Benito Sereno, Twelve Angry Men, Othello, Hamlet, The Piano Lesson, The Orestia, Faust, Blade to the Heat (Audelco Award), Everybody’s Ruby, Gem of the Ocean, A History of American Film, Do Lord Remember Me (Audelco Award), Old Phantoms, In an Upstate Motel, Colored Peoples Time, A Soldier’s Play, Weep Not For Me, Wedding Band, and The Fantasticks.

Patterson’s film and television credits include The Five Heartbeats, Hair, The Amazing Jett Jackson, The Royale, Vengeance: The Story of Tony Cimo, New York Undercover, and Law and Order.

He was a company member of the Negro Ensemble for five seasons and with the original Classic Stage Company for two.

Patterson was also an Associate Artist in Acting and Directing at the Cleveland Play House, Cleveland, Ohio over a span of ten seasons, acting in several productions and directing main-stage productions of The Piano Lesson, Crumbs From The Table of Joy, The Amen Corner, Blues for an Alabama Sky and Two Trains Running.

In addition, Chuck served as Artistic Consultant, Resident Director, and Artistic Director for Theater of Universal Images in Newark, NJ for three seasons, where he directed productions of Ain’t Supposed To Die A Natural Death, Weep Not For Me, Medea and The Doll, Jack! A Musical Fantasy, and Crispus! A Musical.