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Ben Vereen

Ben Vereen

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Also Known As: Benjamin Augustus Vereen, Benjamin Augustus Middleton Died:
Born: October 10, 1946 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Miami, Florida, USA Profession: actor, singer, dancer

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Tony Award winner Ben Vereen's credits read like an overview of the modern Broadway musical, from his breakout with "Pippin" and "Hair" in the 1970s, to his 1990s performances in "Jelly's Last Jam" and "I'm Not Rapaport" and his run as the Wizard of Oz in "Wicked" in the new millennium. Vereen was frequently cast to interpret the sensual, prowling style of choreographer Bob Fosse with his principal role in "Sweet Charity," a Tony Award nomination for "Jesus Christ Superstar," and a featured role in the film adaptation of Fosse's "All That Jazz" (1979). Among Vereen's other musical screen performances was in the Barbra Streisand musical classic "Funny Lady" (1975), and in a more dramatic vein, his Emmy-nominated role in Alex Haley's landmark miniseries "Roots" (ABC, 1977) as well as a number of other acclaimed, mostly historical TV events. Throughout his career and his fair share of personal setbacks, the high-intensity performer maintained his reputation for hard work, high standards, and consummate professionalism. His regular success touring the nation in one-man shows earned Vereen the titles of Entertainer of the Year and Song and Dance Star from the American Guild of Variety Artists, while his...

Tony Award winner Ben Vereen's credits read like an overview of the modern Broadway musical, from his breakout with "Pippin" and "Hair" in the 1970s, to his 1990s performances in "Jelly's Last Jam" and "I'm Not Rapaport" and his run as the Wizard of Oz in "Wicked" in the new millennium. Vereen was frequently cast to interpret the sensual, prowling style of choreographer Bob Fosse with his principal role in "Sweet Charity," a Tony Award nomination for "Jesus Christ Superstar," and a featured role in the film adaptation of Fosse's "All That Jazz" (1979). Among Vereen's other musical screen performances was in the Barbra Streisand musical classic "Funny Lady" (1975), and in a more dramatic vein, his Emmy-nominated role in Alex Haley's landmark miniseries "Roots" (ABC, 1977) as well as a number of other acclaimed, mostly historical TV events. Throughout his career and his fair share of personal setbacks, the high-intensity performer maintained his reputation for hard work, high standards, and consummate professionalism. His regular success touring the nation in one-man shows earned Vereen the titles of Entertainer of the Year and Song and Dance Star from the American Guild of Variety Artists, while his respect among younger generations of performers secured his reputation as an indefatigable elder statesman of Broadway.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Time Out of Mind (2014)
2.
3.
 Idlewild (2006)
4.
 I'll Take You There (1999) Mr Gwin
5.
 Why Do Fools Fall in Love? (1998) Richard Barrett
6.
 Once Upon a Forest (1993) Voice Of Phineas
7.
8.
 Buy and Cell (1988) Shaka
9.
 Lost in London (1985) Paul Williams
10.
 Zoo Gang, The (1985)
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1965:
Made stage debut in off-Broadway production of "The Prodigal Son"
1966:
Performed in "Sweet Charity" in Las Vegas; first association with Bob Fosse
1968:
Performed in "Hair" in New York and Los Angeles
1969:
Made screen debut in "Sweet Charity," directed by Fosse
1971:
Played Judas Iscariot in "Jesus Christ Superstar" on Broadway; earned first Tony Award nomination
1972:
Won Tony Award for turn as the Leading Player in the stage musical "Pippin," directed and choreographed by Fosse
1975:
Played featured role in "Funny Lady"; cast in a role that was a composite of black entertainers like Bert Williams and Bill 'Bojangles' Robinson
1975:
Hosted NBC variety series "Ben Vereen...Comin' at Ya"
1976:
Played title role in "Louis Armstrong: Chicago Style" (ABC)
1977:
Offered memorable Emmy-nominated performance as Chicken George in "Roots" (ABC)
1980:
Co-starred with Jeff Goldblum in short-lived detective series "Tenspeed and Brownshoe" (ABC)
1984:
Joined the cast of the ABC sitcom "Webster," playing the title character's uncle
1988:
Reprised role of Tenspeed on "J.J. Starbuck" (NBC)
1991:
Played Capt. Ben Hutchinson in "Silk Stalkings" (USA)
1992:
Cast in the CBS sci-fi TV movie "Intruders"
1992:
Struck by car while walking alongside Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, CA
1993:
Made return to the Broadway stage succeeding Keith David as the Chimney Man in the musical "Jelly's Last Jam"
1995:
Co-starred in the seasonal musical "A Christmas Carol"
2001:
Returned to Broadway as co-star of the award-winning revue "Fosse"
2006:
Cast in "Idlewild," a musical feature set in the Prohibition-era American south
2007:
Guest starred on ABC medical drama "Grey's Anatomy"
2010:
Guest starred on CBS sitcom "How I Met Your Mother"
2011:
Inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

The School of Performing Arts: New York , New York -
Pentecostal Theological Seminary: -

Notes

"What people don't know is that I really had three accidents in one day. Earlier, I had hit a tree in a car accident, and I hit my head on the car. And when I hit my head I damaged an artery in my brain. So while I was talking to the police officers in Malibu, I was bleeding in the brain. But I didn't go to the hospital like I should have to have an examination. And when I started home I was bleeding in the brain. So, consquently, I had a stroke. So later when I was out walking and when that car came down the road and the driver of the car said when he started to zig, I zagged. It's like I had a [brain] seizure and that's what happened." --Ben Vereen in New York Post, November 14, 1995.

"I am a spiritual person, and despite of all that has happened to me, I do believe I am blessed - blessed to be here today, blessed to be able to work. I am finally in a place where I am comfortable in my skin. And I try not to allow myself the luxury of a negative thought." --Vereen to the New York Post, January 24, 2001.

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Nancy Bruner. Second wife; mother of Vereen's daughters.

Family close complete family listing

sister:
Lucinda Batts. Younger; died on March 14, 1996 while in police custody; was reportedly pregnant.
son:
Benjamin Vereen. From first marriage.
daughter:
Malakia Vereen. Born in May 1970; mother, Nancy Bruner.
daughter:
Naja Vereen. Born in July 1971; mother, Nancy Bruner killed at age 16 in 1987 auto accident.
daughter:
Kabara Vereen. Mother, Nancy Bruner.
daughter:
Karon Vereen. Mother, Nancy Bruner.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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