Richard Ward (actor)

Richard Ward
Born (1915-03-15)March 15, 1915
Died July 1, 1979(1979-07-01) (aged 64)
Occupation Actor
Years active 1949–1979

Richard Ward (March 15, 1915 – July 1, 1979) was a gravel-voiced African American actor on the stage, television, and in films, from 1949 until his death.[1][2] Though best known through his TV appearances late in life, both in sitcoms and police procedurals, Ward also had an extensive film resume and a distinguished stage career, one of the highlights of the latter being his portrayal of Willy Loman in the 1972 production of Death of a Salesman, staged in Baltimore's Center Stage (the first African American production of Arthur Miller's signature opus, produced with the playwright's blessing).[1][3][4] Ward's own favorite among his theatrical vehicles was Ceremonies in Dark Old Men.[5]

Life and career

Ward was born in Glenside, Pennsylvania. He worked as a New York City police detective for ten years before beginning his acting career.[6] An Actors Studio alumnus,[7] Ward belatedly made his television debut in 1950 on the Perry Como Show,[2] later appearing on dramatic anthology series such as Playhouse 90, Studio One, and Hallmark Hall of Fame, before becoming a familiar face on seventies sitcoms like Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, All in the Family and The Jeffersons.[1]

Ward made three guest appearances on Good Times as James's dad Henry (the name that James was known by on Maude), who had walked out on James' mom and siblings when he was younger. The first episode he appeared on, Henry was discovered by Thelma at ship port where he was working and she brought him home to surprise James for his birthday. At first, James didn't want to see him, but after a deep conversation, Henry was welcomed by his son to join the celebration. James wished he could have 100 more years with his dad. The other two episodes Henry appeared on were after James' death. On Sanford and Son, Ward appeared in the episode "The Stung" (1975); in it, Fred asks a professional gambler (played by Ward) to teach Lamont and his friends a lesson. In the pilot film for the cop show, Starsky and Hutch, Ward played Captain Dobey, though in the series itself that role was played by Bernie Hamilton. Ward did appear as a different character in one episode in the final series, shortly before his death of a heart attack.


Year Title Role Notes
1957 Carib Gold
1964 The Cool World Street Speaker
1964 Black Like Me Burt Wilson
1964 Nothing But a Man Mill Hand
1969 The Learning Tree Booker Savage
1971 Brother John Frank
1972 Across 110th Street Doc Johnson
1973 Cops and Robbers Paul Jones
1974 For Pete's Sake Bernie
1975 Mandingo Agamemnon
1976 The Death Collector Gunsmith
1979 The Jerk Father
1980 Brubaker Abraham Cook (final film role)


  1. ^ a b c Associated Press: "Richard Ward: Played Grandpa Evans on TV's 'Good Times;' Was Real Life Detective". The Toledo Blade. July 5, 1979.
  2. ^ a b "Guide to Richard Ward Papers" (PDF). New York Public Library. Retrieved 2012-11-22.
  3. ^ "Black TV Cook Says Role is Not Degrading". Jet. December 11, 1975.
  4. ^ Murphy, Brenda (1995). "Production Chronology". Miller: Death of a Salesman (Plays in Production). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. p. 179. ISBN 0-521-47865-0.
  5. ^ Treaster, Joseph B.: "RICHARD WARD DIES; STAGE AND TV ACTOR; Played in 'Ceremonies in Dark Old Men' and 'Anna Lucasta'-- 'Good Times' Grandpa In Vaudeville With Sisters; Favorite Role Was in 'Ceremonies'". The New York Times. July 4, 1979.
  6. ^,1645553&dq=good-times+richard-ward&hl=en
  7. ^ Garfield, David (1980). "Appendix: Life Members of The Actors Studio as of 1980". A Player's Place: The Story of the Actors Studio. New York: MacMillan Publishing Co., Inc. p. 280. ISBN 0-02-542650-8.

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