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Today's Pride of Bed-Stuy: Laurence Fishburne

An accomplished thespian, filmmaker and producer

February 22, 2012: Actor, director, producer and playwright Laurence John Fishburne III was born July 30, 1961, in Augusta, Georgia, the son of a junior high school mathematics and science teacher, and a juvenile corrections officer.

His parents divorced during his childhood, and he moved with his mother to Bedford-Stuyvesant Brooklyn, where he was raised.

Fishburne started acting at age eleven in a short-lived role as a member of the Mod Squad. He was initially cast as “Michael” in the hit television series Good Times, but the role was eventually given to Ralph Carter.

But Fishburne's most memorable childhood role was in Cornbread, Earl and Me, a 1975 American drama in which he played a young boy who witnesses the police shooting of a popular high school basketball star. Fishburne later earned a supporting role in Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now, in which he played a 17-year-old sailor nicknamed "Mr. Clean."

Fishburn’s popularity really began to burgeon in the 80s with his recurring role as Cowboy Curtis on CBS children's television show Pee-wee's Playhouse. Fishburne also starred as "Dap" in Spike Lee's School Daze (1988). His stage work during the 1980s included Short Eyes (1984) and Loose Ends (1987), both produced at the Second Stage Theatre in New York City.

In 1985, Fishburne married actress Hajna O. Moss in New York. They have two children together-- a son, Langston, and a daughter, Montana.

In the 90s, he played Jimmy Jump in the controversial King of New York, and in 1991, Fishburne starred in John Singleton’s breakout smash hit Boyz n the Hood. The following year, in 1992, he won a Tony Award for his stage performance in the August Wilson play, Two Trains Running and an Emmy Award for his performance in the opening episode, The Box. 

He also starred in Deep Cover along side Jeff Goldblum. And in 1993, he received his first Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Ike Turner in What's Love Got to Do With It, starring Angela Bassett.

Fishburne has worked with actress Angela Bassett on four projects. He said that "An electrifying thing happens when the two of us work together. I haven't experienced it with anyone else. A freedom happens when we work together.”

In 1995, Fishburne won an Image Award for "Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture" for his performance in Higher Learning. He played the title role in Othello, the second African American actor, behind Paul Robeson to be so cast. But Fishburne is perhaps best known for his role as Morpheus, the hacker-mentor of Neo, played by Keanu Reeves, in the 1999 blockbuster science fiction film, The Matrix.

Hajna and Laurence divorced in the 1990s. He re-married in 2002 to actress Gina Torres whom he met while filming The Matrix Reloaded. The couple had a daughter, Delilah, born in 2007.

In April 2008, Fishburne returned to the stage in the Broadway production of Thurgood, a new play by George Stevens, Jr. Thurgood opened at the Booth Theatre on April 30, 2008. He won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding One-Person Show for his performance.

Fishburne was honored with the Harvard Foundation's Artist of the Year award at the annual show Cultural Rhythms. He received this honor for his prowess as an actor and entertainer and for his humanitarian pursuits. Fishburne also is a UNICEF ambassador. The mayor of Cambridge, Massachusetts, Kenneth Reeves awarded him the key to the city and declared February 24 "Laurence Fishburne Day” in the city.

Fishburn also was awarded a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play for his performance in Two Trains Running (1992) and an Emmy Award for Drama Series Guest Actor for his performance in TriBeCa.

Today, Fishburne lives in Hollywood and also maintains a residence in New York City. Fishburne is a big fan of Paulo Coelho and plans to produce a movie based on the novel The Alchemist.

Laurence Fishburne, as an accomplished thespian, we honor your vast contributions and great talent displayed on television, in film and on stage.

*Sources, IMDb.com and wikipedia.com

Diane A.Smith February 22, 2012 at 03:41 PM
Didnt Fishburne play the character Josh on the soap opera One Life to Live with Al Freeman , Jr. back in the 70's?
C. Zawadi Morris February 22, 2012 at 04:28 PM
Yes, he sure did! He was Joshua Hall. His resume was so long, I had to abbreviate. Remember Nia Long's breakout role on The Guiding Light?
Glenn Krasner February 22, 2012 at 05:32 PM
You forgot his most recent starring television role in CSI: Las Vegas. Although he left due to contract negotiation diffficulties and was replaced by Ted Danson, it was nice to see him in this starring role on tv.
C. Zawadi Morris February 22, 2012 at 05:54 PM
Glenn, yes, I left out a number of his roles and tried to stick with the most notable ones. But I had no idea he had worked as much as he did until I researched him. My favorite movie by him was one that doesn't get much attention which was Deep Cover.

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