Percy Rodriguez (born Percy Rodrigues, June 13, 1918 – September 6, 2007) was a Canadian actor who appeared in many television shows and films from the 1950s to the 1980s. He was of Afro-Portuguese heritage and was born in the Saint-Henri neighbourhood of Montreal. Born with the surname "Rodrigues," he adopted the spelling "Rodriguez" after it was misspelled in a Broadway program early on in his career. Rodriguez was also known for his extensive voiceover work as the narrator of film trailers, television spots and documentaries.
Rodriguez as Dr. Harry Miles in Peyton Place, 1968.
June 13, 1918
|Died||September 6, 2007 89) (aged|
Rodriguez was the oldest of three siblings and was of African and Portuguese descent. After his father left home while Percy was in his early teens, Percy began working to help provide for his family. He developed an interest in boxing and acting, becoming a professional boxer while simultaneously exploring acting jobs. He ended up joining Montreal’s Negro Theatre Guild and ultimately won the Canadian Drama Festival acting award in 1939. Despite the award, finding a legitimate acting job was difficult, which led to him working as a toolmaker and machinist for 10 years in order to survive.
Rodriguez began his acting career in the 1930s, appearing in stage plays and television series in his native country. He eventually moved to New York City, where he made his Broadway theatre debut in Lillian Hellman's Toys in the Attic in 1960. Appearing next in The Actors Studio Theatre production of James Baldwin's Blues for Mister Charlie (and, shortly thereafter, in an abbreviated television adaptation on CBS), Rodriguez subsequently became a life member of the Studio.
Known for his rich and distinctive voice, Rodriguez became one of the few black actors in the 1960s who were able to circumvent restrictive and negative stereotypes. He managed to avoid the stereotypical roles given to black actors at the time and was known for applying and projecting quiet authority and inner calm during his roles, as well as for the touch of grey in his hair. He went on to star on American television in programs such as The Nurses, Naked City, The Wild Wild West, Route 66 and Star Trek but first gained widespread notoriety in 1968 for his role as neurosurgeon Dr. Harry Miles in the prime time soap opera Peyton Place, seen as a breakthrough white-collar role for a black actor. He also appeared in the made-for-television films The Old Man Who Cried Wolf (1970), Ring of Passion (1978), Angel Dusted (1981), and the miniseries Roots: The Next Generations (1979). Through his depictions on television, Percy was seen as an excellent supporting character actor.
Rodriguez also had an extensive career on the stage and worked with several prominent African-American actors, such as Al Freeman Jr., Brock Peters, Moses Gunn, William Marshall, Raymond St. Jacques, Lincoln Kilpatrick, Rosetta LeNoire, Otis Young and Tony nominee Diana Sands. He also narrated numerous film trailers, TV spots and documentaries throughout his career, continuing to do voiceovers after retiring from acting in 1987, following his final on-camera role as a doctor in the TV movie Perry Mason: The Case of the Sinister Spirit. He is famous for his eerie narration for trailers and TV spots for the film Jaws (1975), as well as the opening narration for Michael Jackson’s science fiction musical Captain EO (1986) for Disney theme parks. Rodriguez' final public appearance was in the 2012 documentary The Shark is Still Working, where he spoke of his narration of the trailer for the film Jaws.
Rodriguez played numerous roles, including detectives, lawyers, politicians, ambassadors, and doctors. According to Robert J. Thompson, "Television didn't have its equivalent of Jackie Robinson – there wasn't that one moment when the race barrier was broken. But Rodriguez was one of a very small group of actors who were in a relatively quiet way beginning to get these roles that television was very reluctant in the 1960s to give to black actors."
Rodriguez was seen as a symbol of intelligence, moral strength and leadership during his various roles in the 1960s and 1970s. His upsurge in Hollywood’s stature was due to a few of his earlier Broadway appearances. Rodriguez is well known for helping to break the racial barriers on television. He is a well distinguished-looking actor and went on to become a voice of great distinction behind the camera.
Rodriguez had a daughter, Hollis, and a son, Gerald, with his first wife, Alameda. Following Alameda's death, he married Karen Cook in 2003. On September 6, 2007, Rodriguez died of kidney problems at his Indio, California home at age 89.
- Carol for Another Christmas (1964)
- The Man from U.N.C.L.E. episode "The My Friend the Gorilla Affair" (1966) as President Khufu
- The Wild Wild West (1966) episode "The Night of the Poisonous Posey" as Brutus
- Mission: Impossible four episodes (1966–1970)
- Star Trek episode "Court Martial" (1967) as Commodore Stone
- The Fugitive episode "Passage To Helena" Sheriff Dalton (1967)
- Peyton Place (1968–1969) as Dr. Harry Miles
- Adventures in Rainbow Country episode "The Boy Who Loved Animals" (1969)
- Then Came Bronson episode "Two Percent of Nothing" (1969)
- The Silent Force as Jason Hart (series regular, 15 episodes) (1970-1971)
- Somerset as The Lieutenant (1971)
- Cannon (1972) episode "A Flight of Hawks"
- The Starlost episode "Circuit of Death" as Sakharov Richards (1973)
- Genesis II (1973) as Primus Kimbridge
- Planet of the Apes episode "The Tyrant" (1974) as Aboro
- Good Times episode "Florida's Rich Cousin" (1975) as Cousin Edgar
- The Lives of Jenny Dolan (1975) as Dr. Mallen
- Arthur Hailey's the Moneychangers (1976) as Nolan Wainwright
- The Jeffersons episode "Louise's New Interest" (1977) as Dr. Bob Jessup
- Roots: The Next Generations (1979) as Boyd Moffatt
- Sanford (1980) as Winston
- Benson (1982–1985) as Judge Harper
- The Atlanta Child Murders (1985) as Maynard Jackson
- T.J. Hooker episode "Lady In Blue" (1983) as Jason
- Sanford and Son episode " The Olympics" (1975) as Lou Turner
- Trouble-Maker (Trouble fête) (1964) as Le policier noir
- The Plainsman (1966) as Brother John
- The Sweet Ride (1968) as Lt. Harvey Atkins
- The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (1968) as Dr. Benedict Copeland
- Come Back, Charleston Blue (1972) as Bryce
- The Legend of Hillbilly John (1972) as Capt. Lojoie H. Desplain IV
- Rhinoceros (1974) as Mr. Nicholson
- Hugo the Hippo (1975) as Jorma's father (voice)
- The Astral Factor (1978) as Captain Wells
- Galaxina (1980) as Ordric (voice)
- Heavy Metal (1981) as Loc-Nar (voice, uncredited)
- Deadly Blessing (1981) as Narrator (voice)
- BrainWaves (1982) as Dr. Robinson
- Captain EO (1987) as Narrator
- The Shark is Still Working (2006) (documentary)
- The Exorcist (1973)
- Jaws (1975)
- Shivers (a.k.a. They Came from Within, 1975)
- Taxi Driver (1976)
- Jaws 2 (1978)
- The Black Hole (1979)
- Alien (1979, early teaser only)
- 1941 (1979)
- Ghost Story (1981)
- Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip (1982)
- Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle Swann (1982)
- Videodrome (1983)
- Monty Python's The Meaning of Life (1983)
- Jaws 3-D (1983)
- Children of the Corn (1984)
- The Stuff (1985)
- Into the Night (1985)
- Night of the Creeps (1986)
- Chopping Mall (1986)
- House (1986)
- Creepshow 2 (1987)
- The Gate (1987)
- Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)
- Coming to America (1988)
- Dead Ringers (1988)
- She's Having a Baby (1988)
- The Great Outdoors (1988)
- Scrooged (1988)
- Look Who's Talking (1989)
- National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989)
- Tales from the Darkside: The Movie (1990)
- Look Who's Talking Too (1990)
- The Addams Family (1991)
- Curly Sue (1991)
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992)
- Dead Alive (1992)
- Death Becomes Her (1992)
- Kuffs (1992)
- Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993)
- Greedy (1994)
- City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly's Gold (1994)
- Tales From The Hood (1995)
- What Planet Are You From (2000)
- Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
- Biography for Percy Rodriguez on IMDb
- Glover, William: "'Blues for Mister Charlie' Premiered". The New London Day. April 25, 1964.
- Marsters, Jack: "Dial Turns". July 20, 1964
- Garfield, David (1980). "Appendix: Life Members of The Actors Studio as of January 1980". A Player's Place: The Story of The Actors Studio. New York: MacMillan Publishing Co., Inc. p. 279. ISBN 0-02-542650-8.
- "A Doctor's Role for Negro Actor". Los Angeles Times. 1968-08-08.
- Nelson, Valerie J. (2007-09-14). "Percy Rodrigues, 89; black actor fought for authority figure roles". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2015-12-14.
- "The Starlost: "Circuit of Death" (November 10, 1973)". John Kenneth Muir's Reflections on Cult Movies and Classic TV. John Kenneth Muir's. 16 December 2012. Retrieved 8 December 2019.