Unlike a lot of actors who appeared in several blaxploitation movies during their career, Glynn Turman was never really typecast as being a cop, detective, pimp, or drug dealer. He could be anything. He could be a gangster-spirit-possessed college student in one movie, and then show up in an Ingmar Bergman film the next. He did that in 1977 with JDs Revenge and Serpent’s Egg.
Turman had the lead role in Cooley High, and turned in a performance that makes the movie one of the all-time great films of any genre. Is it blaxploitation? Maybe. The film is far better than the average blaxploitation movie, but the way it was marketed and created might be enough for it to qualify by definition. Whatever label you want to put on it, it’s one of those must-see movies on your lifetime Things To Do List.
Glynn Turman was also good in plenty of other shit too. Five on the Black Hand Side is a good example.
He’s still out there working too. He was recently played a detective in John Dies in the End.
Why We Love and Respect Him: This guy is a Professional actor. That’s what makes his stand out in films of this era.
Best Known For: The smooth-talking, school-skipping character Preach from Cooley High.
Blaxploitation Role Call:
Five on the Black Hand Side (1973) as Gideon: GIdeon is one of the three Brooks children. He might even be the most level-headed of the Brooks children, but that doesn’t stop him from battling with Mr. Brooks over his future. Gideon is an agriculture major, and Mr. Brooks hates that. He also argues with his sister and older brother who is turning into an activist.
Thomasine and Bushrod (1974) as Jomo J. Anderson: Jomo is a Jamaican character who befriends Thomasine and Bushrod, and assists them in their efforts to be Bonnie and Clyde/Robin Hood. His impulsiveness often gets them into tough situations.
Cooley High (1975) as Leroy “Preach” Jackson: Preach and his boy Cochise skip school, gamble, drink, get chased by the cops, and arrested, in this heart-warming tale about the perils of growing up in the inner city.
JD’s Revenge (1976) as Isaac Hendrix: Isaac was just your average college kid until he and his friends took in a hypnosis show during a night out on the town. The spirit of notorious gangster JD Walker enters Isaac during the show, and slowly takes over his body and mind. Once Walker is in control of Isaac, they set out to find the men who murdered JD’s sister.
The AV Club reviews Turman’s work and do an Q and A with him. (2012)
Glynn Turman interviewed about acting (The interview starts around 01:20 if you lack patience)