28 For 28: 28 Days of Blaxploitation Legends – Day 14 – Antonio Fargas

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Antonio Fargas is one of the most well-known blaxploitation actors not named Pam Grier, Fred Williamson, or Jim Brown, even if not everyone really knows his name. For many, all you have to say is he’s that guy from I’m Gonna Git You Sucka with the goldfish in his shoes. He’s also well known for his role as Huggy Bear on the Starsky and Hutch TV show.

Back in the 1970s though, you could almost say his portrayal of a pimp became what is considered the norm. He had the flamboyant clothes, the over-the-top attitude, and knew how to strut into a room.

Fargas was a nice changeup from the ultra-tough guys usually seen in blaxploitation films. His characters dressed tough. They tried to act tough. They did whatever they needed to do to protect their reputation on the street. Many times, however, those efforts fell flat.

Why We Love and Respect Him: Fargas was the Don Knotts of the blaxploitation films, and his pimp and thug characters were just streetwise versions of Barney Fife. He would go on to do other work, but his blaxploitation roles are our favorite.

Best Known For: Dressing sharp and being a hard-luck gangster.

FargasFilmStrip

Blaxploitation Role Call:

Shaft (1971) as Bunky: Bunky is a smalltime hood caught up in an NYC crime family war.

Across 110th Street (1972) as Henry J. Jackson: Henry J. Jackson is the getaway driver in the robbery of a Mafia-owned bank that scores the robbers a cool $300,000. Jackson’s crime eventually catches up with him when a couple of hoods find him in a whorehouse.

Cleopatra Jones (1973) as Doodlebug Simkins: Doodlebug Simkins is a sharp-dressing, high ranking soldier in Mommy’s drug cartel, but that isn’t good enough. He goes out on his own, has some success, but then feels the squeeze of his former boss and federal agent Cleopatra Jones.

Foxy Brown (1974) as Link Brown: Link Brown is Foxy’s drug-dealing brother, and due to his being a screw up, Foxy’s boyfriend gets offed by some gangsters. Foxy is determined to get revenge on the gangsters who killed her man.

Bio Links:

Antonio Fargas on building characters…

Antonio Fargus Interview with Soul Train; Aug. 31, 2012

Antonio Fargas IMDB

Antonio Fargas Wiki

28 For 28: Day 12, Moses Gunn

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Moses Gunn played the role of Bumpy Jonas, a character who belongs in the Blaxploitation Movie Gangster Hall of Fame, in the first two Shaft movies. Bumpy was a bad guy, but Bumpy wasn’t all bad. He did try to do some good for the community while managing his crime syndicate.

Bumpy might be one of primary characters in Shaft and Shaft’s Big Score, but there was a gangster named Bumpy with many of those same attributes in the real world. Bumpy Johnson, a crime boss from Harlem, died in 1968, just a few short years before Shaft began shooting.

It makes you wonder if Moses Gunn might have been walking on some thin ice with the real Bumpy’s boys if he had done a poor job of being Bumpy on film. Thankfully he never had to find out, because Moses Gunn nailed it.

Gunn is a pillar in one of the films the house of blaxploitation was built upon, and fortunately he was strong enough of a performer to hold up his end.

Shaft Trailer

Why We Love and Respect Him: We love the fact he had no issue playing a character so obviously linked to a real-life crime boss who died just two or three years earlier. That just sounds ballsy.

Best Known For: Just Being Bumpy

Blaxploitation Role Call:

Shaft (1971) as Bumpy Jonas: Bumpy rules the game in Harlem, but the Italian mafia is trying to creep in and push him out. Things turn violent between the warring factions, Bumpy’s daughter is kidnapped, and the black private dick who’s a sex machine to all the chicks gets called in to help.

Shaft’s Big Score (1972) as Bumpy Jonas: Bumpy continues defending his turf and Shaft finds himself right in the middle of the action. This time there’s more than $200,000 at stake.

Bio Links:

Moses Gunn’s Obituary from the NY Times

Moses Gunn IMDB

Moses Gunn Wikipedia

Bonus Bio Links:

BumpyJohnsons

Bumpy Johnson The Real Bumpy

The Guardian Writes about Bumpy Johnson

Episode 54 (Or is it 69??): Dropping The Hammer As The Whole World Hates Us

Episode 54 (or is it 69??): Dropping The Hammer As The Whole World Hates Us
Welcome to April 1st, folks! We’re so excited to drop the “Hammer” on episode 54 that you’d be a fool to miss this one! No comic book nerds, we’re not sitting down with the son of Odin, we had a chance to chat with another “Hammer”, and he ain’t no MC. If you guessed Fred Williamson(?), then give yourself a lollipop! After that we’re joined by old friend and host, Chris Michalek. We talk music, science, and inappropriate behavior at strip clubs. Enjoy! I know we sure did!