Cleavon Jake Little

Cleavon Jake Little

Chickasha, Grady County, Oklahoma, USA
Death 22 Oct 1992 (aged 53)
Sherman Oaks, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Burial Cremated, Ashes scattered at sea
Memorial ID 5795901 · View Source
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Actor. He is best remembered for his roles of 'Bart', the African-American sheriff in the movie "Blazing Saddles" (1974), and as 'Dr. Jerry Noland' in the 1970s television series "Temperatures Rising." Born in Chickasha, Oklahoma, he grew up in California and attended San Diego College. He earned a scholarship to Julliard and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, where he trained as an actor, and soon won a part in the off-Broadway play, Hamlet and A Midsummer Night's Dream. After winning a Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in the musical "Purlie," he headed for Hollywood, where he got his first role playing Captain Hancock in the soap "Another World" (1964). Other small roles continued, on such television shows as Felony Squad, when he obtained bit roles on movies, including "John and Mary" (1969), "Cotton Comes to Harlem" (1970), and "Vanishing Point" (1971). He would continue to show up on television on such series as All in the Family, The Mod Squad, and Police Story, but it was his role of Bart, the sheriff in "Blazing Saddles" for which he is best remembered. That role had been tailor made for actor Richard Pryor, but studio executives were nervous over Pryor's reputation for being somewhat racy and controversial, and they thought that Little would be a safer actor. "Blazing Saddles" proved to be his career high point, after which his career moved into a slow decline. Trained as a Shakespearean actor, he remained passionately for the classics, and would return to them periodically to play the classic Shakespearean roles. His last major role would be as Sal, in the television series "Baghdad Café" (1990), but he continued to act, appearing in cameo roles in such television series as Perfect Harmony (1991), MacGyver (1989 and 1991 episodes), and True Colors (1991). Often bothered with ulcers and stomach problems for much of his life, he died of colon cancer in Sherman Oaks, California, in 1992, at the age of 53.

Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: Jennifer Tipton
  • Added: 23 Sep 2001
  • Find a Grave Memorial 5795901
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Cleavon Jake Little (1 Jun 1939–22 Oct 1992), Find a Grave Memorial no. 5795901, ; Maintained by Find A Grave Cremated, Ashes scattered at sea.