Ground-breaking playwright-director Melvin Van Peebles aka ‘godfather of modern Black cinema’ died at 89 on Tuesday. A Giant Of Black Cinema was well-known for his independent movies including Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song (1971) and Watermelon Man (1970). He is credited for making African-American movies, making him the most iconic film director in the 1970s. His Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song was the groundbreaking movie that also inspired more African-American movies to make. Read the blog to uncover more facts about Melvin Van Peebles and his movies.
Interesting Facts About Melvin Van Peebles (1932-2021)
- Some of Mario Van Peebles’s groundbreaking movies are New Jack City in 1991, USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage in 2016, and the 2003 biopic Baadasssss! He was born in Chicago on August 21, 1932.
- Melvin Van Peebles grew up in Illinois. His father was a tailor. He went to Thornton Township High and graduated in 1949. He went to West Virginia State College before shifting to Ohio Wesleyan University, where he graduated in English literature.
- After college, he served as a flight navigator for three and half years. After that, he moved to Mexico then went to San Francisco. He married Maria. Then he joined as a gripman on San Francisco’s cable car system.
- His son, Mario Van Peebles is also a director and actor.
- He worked together with his son Mario Van Peebles while making the movie Panther in 1995. Both father and son teamed up on the 1989 movie “Identity Crisis,” in which Melvin directed and Mario scripted and the movie starred as a rapper possessed by the spirit of a dead fashion designer.
- Malvin starred in the 1993 Mario Van Peebles-directed “Posse,” and his son also starred.
- He also worked in other movies that include-
- The 1991 feature comedy “True Identity”
- Reginald Hudlin’s Eddie Murphy vehicle “Boomerang” (1992)
- Arnold Schwarzenegger action film “Last Action Hero” (1993)
- Charlie Sheen action film “Terminal Velocity” (1994)
- comedy “The Hebrew Hammer” (2003)
- Tina Gordon Chism’s romantic comedy “Peeples”(2013)
- Apart from filmmaking, Van Peebles wrote both fiction and nonfiction books. He also wrote, directed, and starred in many Broadway and Off-Broadway plays. He is also considered the most successful businessman and trader on the American Stock Exchange. As stated by People, his main motto is- “Early to bed, early to rise, work like hell, and advertise.”
- Mario Van Peebles also starred in the NBC sitcom “Sonny Spoon. He made guest appearances on many series including “Dream On,” “Homicide: Life on the Street,” and “In the Heat of the Night.”
- His “Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song” movie was dedicated to Black people who have struggled a lot. He starred as the title character.
- He received an award from the Belgian Festival for Don’t Play Us Cheap. He received an Emmy Award for The Day They Came to Arrest the Book, 1987.
Who Is Melvin Van Peeble's Son?
- A. John Van Peeble
- B. Hakim Van Peeble
- C. Mario Van Peebles
- D. Femi Van Peeble