Thalmus Rasulala - Forever Cool Breeze
If you were an actor and had the chance to work with Thalmus Rasulala, you knew he was certainly one cool cat! You could definitely pick him out of the barrage of Black films that came in the late 60s and early 70s. He stared or was featured in numerous classic black films such as, Blacula, Bucktown, and Cool Breeze. With his beautiful baritone voice he was definitely one of the most memorable actors on screen.
He was born with the name Jack Crowder on November 15, 1939 in Miami Florida. A graduate of the University of Redlands, like most actors who found success in film, Rasulala did a stent in New York theater during the 1960s. On Broadway under his original name Jack Crowder, Rasulala appeared as Cornelius Hackle in all hit musical. The all-black cast “Hello Dolly” starring Pearl Bailey and Cab Calloway. The Bailey company opened on Broadway on November 12, 1967 and was recorded by RCA Victor for a best-selling cast album in which Rasulala is featured in several songs.
Thalmus was one of the busiest black actors in the mid 60s with several appearances on television's most iconic shows like, Perry Mason, The Twilight Zone, and Mannix. However, it was in 1968 when he became one of the original cast members of the daytime ABC network soap opera, “One Life to Live” that catapulted him onto the national scene.
Throughout the next decade, he was known as Skeeter Matthews on “Sanford and Son”, Ned in “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman” and Omoro Kinte (Kunta Kinte's father) in “Roots” and he’s appearence on the first-season episode of Saturday Night Live hosted by Richard Pryor as a priest in the "Exorcist II" sketch that rounded out the decade.
Rasulala died on October 9, 1991, from a heart attack in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His last film role was as General Afir in “Mom and Dad Save the World”. He died shortly after completing his scenes and the film released a year after his death. The film is dedicated to his memory. He died two days before actor Redd Foxx, who also died of a heart attack and with whom he guest-starred on “Sanford & Son”. In the episode, he solicited funds for heart attack prevention and awareness.
One of the many un-sung black actors in the history of motion pictures, Thalmus Rasulala left us with a body of film and television performances that speaks for itself, and he will always be remembered as Forever “Cool Breeze”.
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