SPACE: ABOVE AND BEYOND/FOX/1995-96
*(Lanai Chapman/costar) Lt. Vanessa Damphousse, a black soldier who was part of
a squadron of United States Marine space warriors sent into space to battle an
unknown enemy attacking the planet Earth in the year 2063 A.D. Lanai Chapman had
previously played Ensign Rager on several episodes of STAR TREK: THE NEXT
*(James Avery) Alonzo Sparks, a portly black attorney who operated a Compton,
California-based legal firm Sparks, Sparks & Sparks with the help of his family
members. Regular included Terrence Howard and Miguel A. Nunez, Jr. as Alonzo's
two quarrelsome lawyer sons, Greg and Maxey; Kym Whitley as Darice Mayberry;
Arif S. Kinchen as LaMarr Hicks; and Robin Givens as Wilma Cuthbert, the firm's
lovely legal eagle. When Alonzo attended college he earned the nickname "Porky"
(after Porky Pig) because his intimidating law professor made him stammer when
he stood up to speak in class.
SPENSER: FOR HIRE/ABC/1985-88
*(Avery Brooks/costar) Hawk, a somber, black mercenary with his own sense of
honor who often assisted his friend Spenser, a white Boston-based private
detective. In real life, Avery Brooks has been a writer, director, jazz
musician, opera singer and associate professor of Theater Arts at Rutgers
University. His latest claim to fame is his role as Commander Benjamin Sisko on
the syndicated science fiction series DEEP SPACE NINE.
*(Michael Boatman/costar) Carter Heywood, a black homosexual gay activist
working for the Mayor's office in New York City. Carter's sardonic personality
had very little patients for foolishness and believed that he was superior to
all the people around him. Victoria Dillard appeared as Janelle Cooper a black
secretary who also assisted the Deputy Mayor during the 1996-2000 seasons.
Janelle had a romantic fling with white Mayor Randall Winston with whom she
worked very closely.
*(Robert Guillaume/costar) Isaac Jaffe, a black managing editor of a nightly
cable sports-news show who contends with the personal and professional problems
of his on-air talent. Isaac suffered a stroke on episode “Eli’s Coming” (This
stroke mirrored a real stroke of actor Guillaume while on the set of “Sports
Night” on January 14, 1999). While he was in recovery Isaac was shown to be
missed and idolized by his TV staff colleagues. Episode “Dear Louise” revealed
that Isaac started out as a stringer for the Atlanta Journal, and later won the
Pulitzer Price for his coverage of the Gemini Mission. He then hired as the
London Bureau Chief for CNN, which he retired from until he was brought out of
retirement to run Luther Sachs’ Continental Corps new cable sports show. Isaac
also has a 16-year-old daughter named Cathy who is married to Douglas, a radar
officer in the navy. They live in San Francisco.
**(Claudette Wells) La Donna Fredericks, a bigoted black high school
sophisticate who often made life rough for her fellow students who didn't
measure up to her standards.
**(Nichelle Nichols) Lt. Uhura, a black female communications officer of African
descent (Bantu Tribe) stationed onboard the USS Enterprise, a starship whose
mission was to explore strange new worlds. Nichelle Nichols role was continued
in the spin-off motion picture STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE and the successful
sequels that followed. TRIVIA NOTE: The word "Uhura" is Swahili for "freedom."
The topic of racial intolerance was addressed on the episode No. 70 "Let That Be
Your Last Battlefield" whose storyline followed the hunt for an alleged
political traitor named Lokai from the planet Cheron who was sought by one of
its inhabitants named Bele (played by white actor Frank Gorshin). Bele, who
claimed his people were the "master race," was black on the left side and white
on the right, hated Lokai. And Lokai (played by white actor Lou Antonio), who
was white on the left side and black on the right, hated Bele. The inability of
Cheron's people to curtail their racial hated for one another resulted in the
death of their home world. On episode No. 53 "The Ultimate Computer" black actor
William Marshall played the brilliant 23rd century computer scientist Dr.
Richard Daystrom whose breakthroughs in duotronics became the basis for the
computer systems used aboard the Federation starships.
STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION/SYN/1987-94
*(LeVar Burton/costar) Starfleet Lt. Geordi La Forge, a Helmsman (and later
Engineer) for the 24th century starship USS Enterprise-D. La Forge "saw" via a
prosthetic device placed over his eyes called a VISOR (Visual Input Sensory
Optical Reflector). The curved, silver band of metal with rows of vertical slits
was attached to two blinking red implants imbedded into each of his temples.
Giordi's real eyes were covered with a film of white. His artificial sight
transcended normal human vision. The powers of an alien named "Q" once
intervened to give La Forge a moment of "real" sight but Geordi refused the
gift. In the Star Trek movie Insurrection (1998) Geordie no longer needed his
visor. The miracle of technology had provided him with natural sight. Other cast
included black actor Michael Dorn in the role of a Klingon Warrior named Worf;
and Whoppi Goldberg, as a mysterious brown skinned alien named Guinan who ran
the Ten Forward recreation lounge aboard the Enterprise. On a 1993 episode Mae
Jemison, America's first black female astronaut made a cameo appearance (Jemison
credited STAR TREK's Nichelle Nichols with inspiring her career in space).
STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE/SYN/1993-99
*(Avery Brooks) Captain Benjamin Lafayette Sisko, black commander of Deep Space
Nine, a rundown space station orbiting the planet Bajor. Sisko was chosen by the
mysterious legendary life-forms known as the Prophets to be their "Emissary" who
was promised by the prophets to save the Bajorn people. Other cast included
Cirroc Lofton as Jake Sisko, Benjamin's young son; an aspiring writer; Felicia
M. Bell as Jennifer Sisko, Benjamin's wife who was killed during the battle for
Wolf 359 in 2367; Brock Peters as Joseph Sisko, Benjamin's father who owns a
Cajun restaurant in San Francisco on Earth; and Penny Johnson, as Captain
Cassidy Yates (whom Benjamin later married). Black actor Michael Dorn later
joined the cast in the role of a Klingon warrior named Worf.
STAR TREK: VOYAGER/UPN/1995-2001
*(Tim Russ) Tuvok, brown-skinned Vulcan security chief on board the starship
Voyager lost on the other side of the galaxy. Although this character is an
outer space alien, he was played by an African-American actor and so I included
him in this section.
STARSKY & HUTCH/ABC/1975-79
**(Bernie Hamilton) Captain Harold Dobey, a quick tempered, dyspeptic black
supervisor of two white maverick undercover street detectives. Antonio Fargas
also appeared as Huggy Bear, a black inner city bar owner and friend to
detectives Starsky & Hutch.
THE STEVE HARVEY SHOW/WB/1996-2002
*(Steve Harvey) Steve Hightower, a former 70s R&B singer takes a job as a music
teacher at an inner-city Chicago high school. Other cast members were Wendy
Raquel Robinson as Regina “Piggy“ Grier, a no-nonsense school principal and
Steve's love interest; Cedric Robinson as Cedric “The Entertainer,” Steve‘s gym
teacher pal; and Terri J. Vaughn as Lovita, Cedric's girlfriend. Steve’s
students included Netfa Perry's as Sara, an outspoken, know-it-all student;
Merlin Santana as Romeo, the smooth-talking ladies man; and Sophia Ortiz as
Tracy Vilar, Romeo’s sassy, soft-hearted girlfriend.
*(Larry Riley/costar) Harry Fletcher, a black man falsely accused of a crime he
did not commit, runs from the police accompanied by a white friend who was also
implicated in the crime. The series was a spoof of the FUGITIVE/ABC/1963-67 and
a rip-off of the black & white pairing of the successful movie Stir Crazy (1980)
with Gene Wilder & Richard Pryor (inspired by an even earlier film classic The
Defiant Ones (1958) with Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier as two escaping
prisoners shackled to one another on the run from the law.
STOCKARD CHANNING IN JUST FRIENDS/CBS/1979
**(Sydney Goldsmith) Coral, a black exercise instructor working at The Fountain
of Youth Health Spa in Beverly Hills. Sydney Goldsmith also starred as Earline
Cunningham in the second attempt of the same series titled THE STOCKARD CHANNING
*(Saundra Quarterman/costar) Major Lynne Reese, a black law enforcement official
who interacted with former Army scientist who exposed criminal abuses of
*(Carl Weathers) Adam Beaudreaux, a black Special Forces Vietnam veteran who
worked as a by-the-book plainclothes police sergeant (badge # 2230) in an
unidentified Metropolitan city in the Pacific Northwest. Adam, who lived at 2731
West Bond Street, spent his spare time at Molloy’s Bar, which he co-owned with a
beautiful white woman called Molloy.
*(Dorian Harewood/costar) Paul Strobber, a black Los Angeles undercover
policeman and member of a special crime fighting division that tracked down mad
bombers, rapists, assassins and other assorted fanatics. Paul is married and has
*(Guy Torry/costar) Jesse Weir, an unconventional black ex-Las Vegas police
officer (a Philadelphia native) who teamed with former white police partner to
work as private security detectives at Ceasar’s Palace Hotel and Casino owned by
billionaire casino impresario with plans to clean up his town.
THE STU ERWIN SHOW/ABC/1950-55
**(Willie Best) Willie, a black handyman who worked for the bumbling Stu Erwin,
a white principal at Hamilton High School.
SUGAR HILL See "The Leslie Uggums Show”
**(Sherri Shepherd) Miranda Charles, a former black Naval Academy graduate
introduced during the 1999 fall season who is fiercely protective as executive
assistant to the new editor (Eric Idle) at the San Francisco based magazine
called The Gate. Shepherd made her television debut on the comedy series
CLEGHORNE!, but is perhaps best known for her recurring role as Sgt. Judy
Potter, the opinionated cop opposite Brad Garrett on the CBS sitcom EVERYBODY
LOVES RAYMOND. Shepherd was born in Chicago.
SUGAR & SPICE/CBS/1990
*(Loretta Devine & Vickilyn Reynolds) Loretta Fontaine and Vickilyn Fontaine
Clayton, two black sisters living in a small Oklahoma town who attempt to raise
their rambunctious teenage niece, Toby Reed (played by La Verne Anderson) after
her parents are killed in a car accident. Vicklyn runs a curio shop called Small
World Miniatures, and Loretta is a hostess at Cafe Jacques. All three live at
731 Oakwood Avenue in Ponca City.
*(Erik King) Tuscon Smith, a black undercover LA cop posing as a rugged biker
for an experimental unit comprising four undercover cops.
*(Larry B. Scott/costar) F. X. Spinner, a brilliant black electronics wizard who
is the chief engineer/designer of the secretive SUPERFORCE project (robotic suit
of armor) financed by now deceased millionaire E. B. Hungerford.
*(Cicely Tyson/costar) Carrie Grace Battle, a progressive black attorney living
in the South. Other cast were Cree Summer as Reese Dawkins, a single mother and
new attorney at the firm of Battle-Ross & Associates; and Michael Warren as
Michael "T-Dog" Turner, a strong-willed black community leader.
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