HOWARD E. ROLLINS, JR. Biography - Actors and Actresses


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Name: Howard Ellsworth Rollins, Jr.                                                 
Born: 17 October 1950 Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.                                     
Died: 8 December 1996 New York, New York, U.S.                                       
Howard Ellsworth Rollins, Jr. (October 17, 1950 – December 8, 1996) was an         
American actor.                                                                     
Rollins was born in Baltimore, Maryland where he studied theater at Towson State     
College nearby. In the late 1960s he played the role of "Slick" in the Maryland     
Public Television Series "Our Street," the nation's first black soap opera. He       
received his start in acting in a production of Of Mice and Men directed by his     
friend Steve Yeager. Many years later, he would star in Yeager's film On the         
Rollins was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a       
Daytime Drama Series for his role on Another World. Rollins was also nominated       
for the 1981 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in the     
Dino De Laurentiis/Miloš Forman motion picture, Ragtime.                           
In 1984, Rollins starred in director Norman Jewison's film, A Soldier's Story       
which led to his role as Virgil Tibbs on the In the Heat of the Night television     
series based on Jewison's acclaimed film In the Heat of the Night. In 1993, he       
spent about a month in jail for driving under the influence and reckless driving.   
Because of continued legal problems, Rollins was ultimately dropped from In the     
Heat of the Night and was replaced by Carl Weathers. Rollins was invited back as     
a guest star on several episodes in the seventh season, but further legal           
problems led to his being totally banned from the county where the series was       
In the last years of his life, Rollins worked hard to address his drug and           
alcohol problems and began to rebuild his career. He appeared in the TV shows       
New York Undercover and Remember WENN, in the PBS film Harambee, and in the         
theatrical film Drunks.                                                             
Rollins died in 1996 after complications from AIDS-related lymphoma and was         
interred in the Woodlawn Cemetery in his native Baltimore. He had been diagnosed     
with the condition approximately six weeks earlier. An unveiling of a wax           
statue of Rollins took place at the Senator Theater in Baltimore on October 25,     
2006. The statue is now at Baltimore's Great Blacks in Wax Museum.