Godfrey Cambridge
Date of Birth
Feb 26, 1933
Birth Place:
New York City, NY


Born in New York City to immigrants from British Guiana, Godfrey Cambridge was raised in Nova Scotia. He returned to New York in time for high school, graduating from Flushing High in three years. While attending Hofstra University, Cambridge appeared in a student production of MacBeth; it was also at Hofstra that Cambridge, who was black, first encountered racial prejudice. After completing his education at CCNY, Cambridge held down many shows before his first theatrical break in the 1956 play Take a Giant Step. In 1961, Cambridge was one of several black performers whose career was given a booster shot by appearing in Jean Genet's play The Blacks: he won an Obie award for his portrayal of an African American gentleman who transforms into an elderly white woman. This led to a major role in Ossie Davis' satirical Broadway play Purlie Victorious. Thanks to his frequent appearances on Jack Paar's program, Cambridge was able to sustain a successful career as a nightclub comedian, using such hot-potato topics as bigotry and phony liberalism as objects of ridicule rather than anger. In films since 1959, Cambridge starred as Harlem detective Gravedigger Jones in Cotton Comes to Harlem (1969) and Come Back Charleston Blue (1972); and, in an interesting variation of his Blacks role, Cambridge portrayed a white businessman who turns black overnight in the bitter fantasy Watermelon Man (1969). Godfrey Cambridge was 43 years old when, while playing Idi Amin in the TV production Victory at Entebbe, he collapsed on the set, the victim of a fatal heart attack. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Provided by Rovi