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A tribute to Earl Cameron

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In the 50s and 60s, it was a rarity to find black actors feature in films, let alone have prominent roles. But Earl Cameron got on to become the first black film star by playing roles in Pool of London and Sapphire and even starring in a 007 movie Thunderball. He debuted with Pool of London and became noticed as one of the first black actors to be in British cinema. Born in Bermuda and made a name for himself in British movies, he heralded a change for many generations of black actors after him.

He died at the ripe age of 102, surrounded by his family members on the 3rd of July 2020. He lived in Warwickshire. Being a formidable influence for the new generation, a stream of tributes have poured in form all corners of the world. Social media had celebrated his work, and for pioneering black men in movies, he was making a name and place for himself when no other had done before.

Edward knew that men of color would be stereotyped, and he didn’t want to fall into that trap and has been inspirational for standing by his moral principles. He first started out in the British Merchant Navy. There was a chance to play a part in a theatre production of Chu Chin Chow, which might have been a small role, but it defined his future. He did more of the theatre after the war and then got an opportunity to be cast in Pool of London. This thriller movie was set in the London docks wherein his character was a merchant seaman named Johny Lambert. His role required him to act on a mixed-race relationship. This happened to be first of a kind portrayal in a British film during those times.

He went on to do other roles but found hard work to come by. In an interview, he had stated that parts for black people with a depth of character and length of the role were limited. The small parts exasperated the actor, and since worthwhile roles were hard to come by, he had to be satisfied with few and far-in between roles that showcased his talent.

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