Family & Companions
A quiet yet powerful actor, Lumbly has risen from playing the decidedly supporting--almost background--role of Detective Marcus Petrie on "Cagney & Lacey" (CBS, 1982-88) to essaying numerous secondary and leading parts in TV and films. Raised in Minneapolis by Jamaican immigrant parents, Lumbly's first break came in 1976 when he appeared opposite Danny Glover in two plays by Athol Fugard, "Sizwe Banzi is Dead" and "The Island." He later toured in this double bill. Among his other stage credits are "The Tempest" (1981) and "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (1988) at the New York Shakespeare Festival and "The Gospel at Colonus" (1983).
Lumbly made his film debut as an inmate in Don Siegel's "Escape From Alcatraz" (1979). He went on to appear in forgettable fare ("Caveman" 1981) and cult favorites ("The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai: Across the 8th Dimension" 1984) before earning praise for his performance as a football hero in Taylor Hackford's "Everybody's All-American" (1988). In Charles Burnett's "To Sleep With Anger" (1990), he was the hardworking, successful Junior resentful of his younger brother (Richard Brooks). Later that same year, he was the tenant displaced in favor of psycho Michael Keaton in John Schlesinger's "Pacific Heights." In Steve Anderson's "South Central" (1992), Lumbly was Ali, an older, Muslim convict who acts as mentor to a fellow convict (Glenn Plummer).
On TV, Lumbly played a local clergyman in the biopic of a Gary Rowe Jr who went "Undercover With the KKK" (NBC, 1979) before appearing as Petrie in the TV-movie "Cagney & Lacey" (CBS, 1981) which spawned the series. For six years, he appeared in support of Tyne Daly and the three actresses who played her partner (Loretta Swit in the original, Meg Foster in the first season, and Sharon Gless). He reprised the role in four reunion specials that aired between 1994 and 1996. In 1985, Lumbly recreated his stage role as Theseus in the PBS production of "The Gospel at Colonus" and went on to play Bobby Seale in "Conspiracy: The Trial of the Chicago Eight" (HBO, 1987) and slave uprising leader Denmark Vesey in "Brother Future" (PBS, 1991). Other series work included a recurring role as a professor accused of murder on "L.A. Law" (NBC, 1989-90), the chief administrator of a Caribbean medical school in "Going to Extremes" (ABC, 1992-93) and the paraplegic man who becomes a superhero through technology in "M.A.N.T.I.S." (Fox, 1994). The latter series was low-rated, but pleas from groups wanting positive Black adult roles in a drama convinced the Fox network to keep it on. Eventually, it became a ratings victim. Lumbly also appeared opposite Diana Ross in her TV-movie debut, "Out of Darkness" (ABC, 1994). He was one of a number of leading African American stars in "America's Dream" (HBO, 1996), a collection of three short pieces about African American life. Lumbly is married to actress Vonetta McGee who appeared as his wife on "Cagney and Lacey" and in "To Sleep With Anger."
Cast (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Starred with Danny Glover in San Francisco stage productions of "Swizi Banzi is Dead" and "Island"
Feature film acting debut, "Escape From Alcatraz"
TV acting debut, "Undercover With the KKK"
Starred in "Eden" for Los Angeles Actors Theatre
Co-starred as Sgt. Petrie on the CBS police drama "Cagney and Lacey"
Portrayed Bobby Seale in "Conspiracy: The Trial of the Chicago Eight"
Co-starred in "To Sleep With Anger"; played opposite real-life wife Vonetta McKee; first collaboration with director Charles Burnett
Appeared as Dr Michael Norris on the ABC series "Going to Extremes"
Starred as romantic lead opposite Diana Ross in her TV-movie debut, "Out of Darkness"
Played recurring role of the Mayor on the short-lived NBC series "EZ Streets"
Had title role in The Disney Channel movie "Nightjohn", directed by Charles Burnett; screened at film festivals in 1997
Co-starred in the TNT movie "Buffalo Soldiers"
Portrayed the patriarch of the title in "The Ditchdigger's Daughters" (The Family Channel)
Had supporting role in "How Stella Got Her Groove Back"
Played an smooth jazz musician who romances Halle Berry in "The Wedding" (ABC), directed by Burnett
Acted in the Off-Broadway staging of August Wilson's "Jitney"
Cast as Congressman Ron Dellums in the TV biopic "The Color of Friendship" (The Disney Channel)
Returned to series TV as co-star of the ABC drama "Alias"