Wednesday, April 11, 2007

R.I.P.: Roscoe Lee Brown (1925-2007)

Roscoe Lee Brown possessed the sort of mellifluous voice that can guarantee an actor a thriving career doing commercial voiceovers and movie narrations. (Anyone remember Babe?) But for many film buffs, he'll be best remembered as the camp cook who led John Wayne's young proteges in a mission of revenge in The Cowboys. Even in this role, however, Brown evidenced flawless diction -- much to the consternation of some white critics who, truth to tell, may have been channeling their inner Don Imus. "Some critics complained that I spoke too well to be believable" in the cook's role, Browne told The Washington Post in 1972. "When a critic makes that remark, I think, if I had said, 'Yassuh, boss' to John Wayne, then the critic would have taken a shine to me." Of course, maybe that critic had never seen The Liberation of L.B. Jones (1970), in which Brown's dignified businessman refused to take any guff from any white guy, even at the cost of his life.

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