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Today is Fred Williamson’s birthday, he is 76 and still a very large, very fit, very scary human being. Former Oakland Raiders/Kansas City Chiefs football star who rose to prominence as one of the first African-American male action stars of the “blaxploitation” genre of the early 1970s, who has since gone on to a long and illustrious career as an actor, director, writer, and producer! He has acted in over 120 movies! Directed 23 films writing over a dozen. He is a legend.

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Burly, yet handsome 6′ 3″ Williamson first came to attention in the TV series Julia (1968) playing love interest, Steve Bruce.

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He did a couple of Star Trek episodes in 1969, and then Robert Altman cast him in M.A.S.H. (1970)


The Legend of Nigger Charley (1972) was a controversial title about a slave who kills a white man and is pursued by a slave hunter. Given the accolades lauded (quite rightly) on Steve McQueen’s epic 12 Years A Slave it shows we have come some way to recognising the horrors of slavery in the last 42 years.

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The same year he made Hammer (1972) as a prize fighter with a crooked manager. This features Bernie Hamilton who went on play Capt Dobey in Starsky and Hutch, a role Fred came to reprise in the 2004 re-boot with Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller.

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Then he played Tommy Gibbs in Black Caesar aka The Godfather of Harlem (1973)

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A sequel to The Legend of Nigger Charley entitled The Soul of Nigger Charley (1973) followed by a reprise of his role as Tommy Gibbs in Hell Up in Harlem ((1973)

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That Man Bolt (1973) a sort of black James Bond.

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A couple of Police Story episodes then Crazy Joe (1974) with Peter Boyle as Joe based on the life of Mafia gangster “Crazy” Joey Gallo.

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Tough Guys (1974) then Black Eye (1974) directed by Jack Arnold the legendary director of Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954).

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Three The Hard Way (1974) with fellow Blaxploitation legends Jim Kelly and Jim Brown was a big hit as they battle to stop white supremists trying to taint the water supply into the  US.

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Three the Hard Way


Fred Williamson on Jim Kelly at Kelly’s memorial

Bucktown (1975), Take A Hard Ride (1975), Adios Amigo (1976) Mean Johnny Barrows (1976) saw Fred a much admired action star. The Blaxploitation genre was hot.

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A superb all action adventure comedy Quel Maledetto Treno Blindato aka Inglorious Bastards (1978) updated, revived and turned into a world wide hit by Quentin Tarantino in 2009 – this one was directed by the great Enzo G Castellari with Bo Svenson, Ian Bannen, and Peter Hooten.

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Some TV work, Euro action movies in Italy and other European locations with a collection of straight to video titles but always working and a big star in Europe.

Vigilante (1983) with Robert Forster, Carol Lynley, Woody Strode directed by William (Maniac) Lustig.

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More STV titles until Quentin Tarantino added him to the cast of From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)


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I met Fred once, I had a video label called Superfly and we brought him over to help launch the label. Somewhere I have a photo of myself and my business partner in a Hammer headlock. Happy days. He was an absolute gent and a pleasure to spend time with. He is still working, still cranking out movies.

Happy Birthday Fred.