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Moses Gunn
Born October 2, 1929(1929-10-02)
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
Died December 17, 1993 (aged 64)
Guilford, Connecticut, U.S.

Moses Gunn (October 2, 1929 – December 17, 1993)[1] was an American actor. An Obie Award-winning stage player, he co-founded the Negro Ensemble Company in the 1960s. His 1962 Broadway debut was in Jean Genet's The Blacks. He was nominated for a 1976 Tony Award as Best Actor (Play) for The Poison Tree and played Othello on Broadway in 1970.



Born in St. Louis, Missouri, the son of Mary and George Gunn, he was the eldest of seven children. After his mother died, his family splintered. Moses left home and rode the railroad at just 12 years old. He returned to St. Louis and attended school while living at the home of Jewel Richie, his English and diction teacher. In 1954, Gunn began a three year stint in the Army. In 1959, he received his B.A. degree from Tennessee State University. After that, he studied at the University of Kansas from 1959 to 1961 in their graduate program for speech and drama; they belatedly awarded him an M.A. degree in 1989. In March 2008 it was announced that the University of Kansas will house his memorabilia.[2] Gunn was a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.

An authoritative black character actor of film and TV, Gunn also enjoyed a successful career on stage. He made his New York City stage debut in the original off-Broadway production of Jean Genet's The Blacks (1962). Gunn is best remembered for his portrayal of mobster Ellsworth Raymond "Bumpy" Jonas in the first two Shaft movies, and for his brief role of Booker T. Washington in the 1981 movie Ragtime, a performance which won him an NAACP Image Award. He was nominated for an Emmy Award in 1977 for his role in the TV mini-series Roots. He also costarred with Avery Brooks on the TV series A Man Called Hawk. Gunn also appeared in a multi-episode story arc as atheist shop owner Carl Dixon on the sitcom Good Times, as Joe Kagan on Little House on the Prairie, and as the character Moses Gage in the 1980s NBC drama Father Murphy. His last notable role was as murder suspect Risley Tucker in "Three Men and Adena", an episode of Homicide: Life on the Street.

He died from the complications of asthma in Guilford, Connecticut in 1993.



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