28 For 28: 28 Days of Blaxploitation Legends – Day 25, Rosalind Cash

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Rosalind Cash worked steadily from her debut in Klute with Jane Fonda, until her death from cancer in 1995, the year of her final film role, which was Tales From the Hood.

Cash made a huge splash alongside Charlton Heston in The Omega Man before she found herself playing roles in blaxploitation films. Then she appeared in several blaxploitation films before the 70s came to an end and she focused more on television roles.

Cash was another of those female actors who was more than capable of being an on-screen badass, as she proved in Omega Man, but didn’t really get the chance to show that side of her talent again.  Like so many other actresses of the era, she was relegated to being the girlfriend, the mother, the sister, or the anything else but the lead in a film. Had she been in her prime 30 years later she likely would have been another Milla Jovovich or Michelle Rodriguez.

Why We Love and Respect Her: After making an impact with her role in Omega Man, she then made movies like Dr. Black and Mr. Hyde, The Monkey Hustle and Death Drug. Whether she did it because she wanted to, or whether it was all that was being offered, is irrelevant as far as we’re concerned.

Best Known For: Omega Man, obviously, and maybe for being Dorothy’s black daughter in law in an episode of The Golden Girls.

Rosalind Cash in Dr. Black and Mr. Hyde as Dr. Billie Worth

Blaxploitation Role Call:

Melinda (1972) as Terry Davis: Terry is a former lover of radio DJ Frankie J. Parker, and becomes involved in a mafia-ordered hit on Melinda, Frankie’s current squeeze. Melinda was the former girlfriend of MItch, a local crime boss, and when she left him, she took some valuable information with her and he wants it back. After they kill Melinda, they set their sights on Frankie because there are still unresolved issues with Melinda’s transgression. Terry tries to help Frankie, but becomes a victim herself.

Amazing Grace (1974) as Creola Waters: Who doesn’t love a good movie about corrupt local politics, and a community of people trying to put an end to such shenanigans? Well, that’s what you have here in Amazing Grace. While it was primarily a vehicle for Moms Mabley, it also featured Moses Gunn, Slappy White, and Rosalind Cash.Cash is Creola, the wife of Welton Waters, Grace’s neighbor, who is running for political office, but is in reality little more than a pawn for the corrupt political machine looking to suck money out of the community and into their own pockets. Creola drinks too much, and is a bit snooty with the women in town, and is also a participant in the effort to get Welton elected under false pretenses.

Dr. Black and Mr. Hyde (1976) as Dr. Billie Worth: Dr. Worth’s boyfriend, Dr. Pryde, is working on a cure for liver disease, and eventually tries the serum he’s created on himself. The result is he’s turned into an ashy-white madman who likes to kill whores.

The Monkey Hustle (1976) as Vi’s Mama: Win is Baby D’s older brother and gets sucked into a small-time hustling gang when he returns from being on tour with his band and finds Baby D already involved. Win’s girlfriend, Vi, has kicked him to the curb for an older man, despite her mother’s protests. , and he hates seeing his younger brother among a group of young guys who get sucked into an apprenticeship at Monkey Hustle Inc., with Daddy Foxx, Yaphet Kotto,

Death Drug (1978) as Doctor Harris: This is one of those movies I’ve heard about for years, but still have not managed to actually see, unfortunately. This thing is notorious for its over-the-top portrayal of the effects of PCP. When it comes to Rosalind Cash’s role in the movie, I can’t say exactly what it is because I’ve read several different versions of it. I know this is a horrible description of a movie, and it falls short of every other one I’ve done this month, but it is what it is. Here’s the IMDB nutshell plot:

A young man in Los Angeles dreams of striking it big as a singer in the music business. One day he gets signed to a big record contract, but along with the fame and money he develops an addiction to the drug PCP.

Rosalind Cash in Death Drug as Dr. Harris

Bio Links:

Working: The Black Actress in the Twentieth Century, Rosalind Cash, by Irma McClaurin-Allen, University of Massachusetts Amherst, A Journal of African and Afro-American Studies, Volume 8, Article 6, 1-1-1986

Cash talks about her youth, how she began acting, and the role of race in film based on her experiences from the 1960s-1980s. It’s a damn good read. Here’s something she said regarding her efforts to learn acting:

If you had a play I would do it for a meal. I did shows in churches, basements, people’s houses, and storefronts. I traveled through the South-before the CiviI Rights Bill was passed-in a station wagon with a little heater in the middle. I went to a lot of junior colleges, dressed in the ladies’ room, stayed over in people’s houses because we couldn’t afford to stay anywhere. So I had a lot of rough training. I never went to an institution to leam.

The Museum of Uncut Funk’s profile of Rosalind Cash

Rosalind Cash’s Obituary from The Independent

Rosalind Cash IMDB

Rosalind Cash Wiki

28 For 28: 28 Days of Blaxploitation Legends, Day 3 Bernie Casey

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Bernie Casey was yet another professional football player of the late 1960s and early 1970s to go Hollywood and leave NFL behind. Bernie Casey might not have the name recognition power of Jim Brown, he didn’t lack a powerful screen presence. Some claim Casey is the best actor to arise from the NFLugees during this era.

Casey appeared in several of the best-known blaxploitation films of all time. including Dr. Black and Mr. Hyde, Cleopatra Jones, and the Wayans-produced blaxploitation spoof I’m Gonna Git You Sucka.  He also landed a role in the James Bond film Never Say Never Again as CIA operative Felix Leiter.

If you’re a kid of the 80s, you probably first saw Casey as Mr. Ryan from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Colonel Rhombus in Spies Like Us, and you undoubtedly remember him as U.N. Jefferson, the Lamda Lamda Lamda representative in Revenge of the Nerds.

Throughout his career he has continued to show his diversity as an actor with great performances in films from just about every basic genre.

He is also no stranger to a little controversy.

Casey played a true rogue when he starred in Hit Man (1972). Tyrone Tackett might have been a policeman at one point in his life, but his substance abuse, womanizing, and penchant for violence, indicate that time was long ago in a different world. Tacket’s actions on the screen were powerful enough to earn condemnation from the NAACP and set such a high standard many of the future action movies in  the genre simply couldn’t compete. Most looked ridiculous when they tried.

Casey also starred in what might have been the first film to ever have to calculate donated ‘Blue Chip Stamps’ when crunching the numbers of the project’s budget, Black Chariot, and was James Bond’s CIA contact in Never Say Never Again, the notorious Kevin McClory Bond film.

Hit Man (1972) Trailer

Why We Love and Respect Him: If Bernie Casey would have been given the right role, in an Oscar-caliber screenplay circa 1975, he might have been Denzel before Denzel was even Denzel. Instead, Casey when he seemed to be peaking, he found himself costarring with a coked-out David Bowie in The Man Who Fell to Earth, an oddball flick produced by two guys who would do Deer Hunter just two years later. Thankfully, awards don’t mean shit.

Casey has played good guys, bad guys, guys in between, monsters, authority figures, and funny guys; and was superb in nearly every one of those roles.

We just love him for being so versatile.

BernieCaseyRevengeNerds

Best Known For: Dressing like a successful business man, recruiting a mostly white group of nerds to join a black fraternity, and having some of the best hair in the business.

Blaxploitation Role Call:

Black Chariot (1971) as The Drifter: Casey’s character drifts into town, gets chummy with a motorcycle gang, disrespects the man in charge, and gets sucked into taking drastic actions in order to make things right.

Black Gunn (1972) as Seth, Black Activist Leader: An entrepreneur’s little brother gets mixed up with a militant activist group, fronted by Casey, and becomes entangled in a web of violence and big stakes.

Hitman (1972) as Tyrone Tackett, Pornographer/Hit Man: Tyrone takes time out of his duties as a porn talent scout to mourn his brother’s death, and quickly learns things are a mess back in Oakland and he’s going to have to straighten some of it out. Tryone drinks heavily, meets Pam Grier, sees his niece raped in a porn movie then later finds her dead, and sometimes has to get violent.

Cleopatra Jones (1973) as Reuben Masters, Drug Counselor: Cleopatra Jones hates dope, and so does her boyfriend Reuben, the head man in charge at the local halfway house for recovering addicts, but that doesn’t mean either of them will blindly follow The Man’s rules. Cleopatra Jones doesn’t hesitate to use her elite fighting skills to battle drug dealers, while Reuben boldly tries to clean up the mess left behind.  An alternate title producers might have considered was Miss Shaft, or Shaftess, as this was a direct response to the popularity of Shaft, and proved to be a precursor to the films Ms. Grier’s turned into cinema classics.

Dr. Black, Mr. Hyde (1976) as Dr. Henry Pride, a psycho scientist: A respected scientist determined to save dying liver cells gets a dose of his own medicine and is turned into a white vampire who loves hookers.

Brothers (1977) as David Thomas: (From IMDB)  Thinly disguised account of the relationship between radical black activist Angela Davis and Black Panther and prison inmate George Jackson, who was one of those killed in a failed 1971 prison breakout.

I’m Gonna Git You Sucka (1988) as John Slade, Aging Vigilante: This is Keenan Ivory Wayans’s love letter to the blaxploitation films of the 70s and features numerous superstars of the era, including Casey as Jack Slade’s boyhood idol, John Slade. John Slade hels Jack put together team of elite crimestoppers in an effort to clean up the streets and stop Mr. Big

hitmanBernieCaseyBio Links:

AT LUNCH WITH: Bernie Casey; A Filmmaker Battling Flawed Images of Blacks; New York Times, Nov. 27, 1997  

Bernie Casey is still out there fighting the good fight.

”I was on a radio talk show this morning and the host said, ‘Can I ax you a question?’ ” Mr. Casey said, visibly bristling. ”I said no, but you can ask me a question. He laughed, but he said, ‘O.K., can I ask you a question?’ ”

”I always challenge young people who talk ebonics and use a lot of profanity to become more literate, to find the words to express what they mean,” Mr. Casey said. ”We need to understand the power of words.”

Spike Lee Says Bernie Casey is the best actor of the former NFL Players club; ESPN Interview by Ralph Wiley

Black Chariot financed with blue Stamps , TCM.com

Several feature articles in 1970 and 1971 detail Goodwin’s financing of the production. According to a Los Angeles Times article, “95% of them [the film’s owners] are black and many with investments of $50 or less.” An additional $5,000 in financing was raised, according to statements made by Goodwin, from Blue Chip Stamps, a then popular grocery store premium. Goodwin explained in the Los Angeles Times article that backers were asked to give a minimum of five dollars or four books of Blue Chip Stamps [which, at the time, had a monetary face value of $1.20] to invest in the film.

Bernie Casey’s IMDB

Bernie Casey Wiki

Bernie Casey’s Bio at TCM

Bernie Casey Bio from Bowling Green’s Sports Hall of Fame.

Bernie Casey’s NFL Stats

Examples of Bernie Casey’s Artwork