Award winning actor Earle Hyman has died. The actor best known for his role of Russell Huxtable on “The Cosby Show” died November 17 in the Lillian Booth Actors Home in Englewood, New Jersey at the age of 91.

Hyman made his Broadway acting debut in 1943 while he was still a teen in the play “Run Little Chillun” – a role that lasted only 15 days – but a year later he was cast in an all black production of “Anna Lucasta – a role he held for the next two years.

He also appeared on the Broadway stage in “The Climate of Eden”, “The Merchant of Venice”, “No Time for Sergeants”, “Mister Johnson”, “Saint Joan”, “Waiting for Godot”, “The Duchess of Malfi”, “The Infernal Machine”, “Les Blancs”, “The Lady from Dubuque”, “Execution of Justice”, “Death and the King’s Horseman”, “The Master Builder”, and “A Celebration of Paul Robeson”.

Besides his Broadway performances, Hyman performed at the Shakespeare Theatre and on stage in Norway.

Though best known for playing the role of the Huxtable patriarch, Hyman made his screen debut in 1945 in an uncredited role as a smoking man in “The Lost Weekend”. From there he went on to appear in over 40 roles including the daytime drama “The Edge of Night”, “East Side/West Side”, “The Defenders”, the title role in the TV Movie “Macbeth”, the daytime drama “All My Children”, “Long Day’s Journey into Night”, “A Man Called Hawk”, “Thundercats”, and “Twice in a Lifetime”.

He eschewed the idea of traditionally white or black roles and was firm believer in an actor earning the role for their talent…not the colour of their skin.

He was born George Earle Hyman on October 11 in Rocky Mount, North Carolina the son of schoolteachers. The family relocated to New York City when Early was only six years old.

A lifelong bachelor, Hyman is survived by many nieces and nephews.


feature photo credit:  Carl Van Vechten Library of Congress Catalog: Image download: Original url: