Robert Townsend


Actor, Director
Robert Townsend

About

Birth Place
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Born
February 06, 1957

Biography

Robert Townsend is known as a multi-talented figure who graduated from stand-up comedy to film, making his screen acting debut in Paul Mazursky's "Willie and Phil" (1980) and contributing a fine dramatic performance in "A Soldier's Story" (1984). Frustrated at the dearth of significant screen roles for blacks, Townsend scraped together some $100,000 (putting most of it on his assortment ...

Family & Companions

Cheri Jones
Wife
Real estate agent. Married on September 15, 1990; she filed for divorce on August 7, 2001.

Biography

Robert Townsend is known as a multi-talented figure who graduated from stand-up comedy to film, making his screen acting debut in Paul Mazursky's "Willie and Phil" (1980) and contributing a fine dramatic performance in "A Soldier's Story" (1984).

Frustrated at the dearth of significant screen roles for blacks, Townsend scraped together some $100,000 (putting most of it on his assortment of credit cards) to produce, direct, write and star in his witty lampoon of the travails of an aspiring minority actor, "Hollywood Shuffle" (1987). His subsequent credits include Eddie Murphy's concert movie, "Raw" (1987), several cable TV comedy shows and "The Five Heartbeats" (1991), a somewhat old-fashioned show biz comedy-drama about a rhythm and blues singing group set in the 1960s.

In interviews, Townsend has decried the anger and negativism that he believes characterizes too much of contemporary black filmmaking. Raised in inner-city Chicago, he sought escape through the films of Frank Capra. This sunny sensibility in the face of adversity characterized "The Meteor Man" (1993), an urban fairy tale about a mild mannered school teacher who is transformed into a crime-fighting superhero. The film contained no profanity or explicit violence--and fizzled at the box office.

Townsend returned to series TV in 1993 with the short-lived variety series "Townsend Television" (Fox). He scored slightly better with his next effort, the likeable yet unspectacular sitcom "The Parent 'Hood" (1995-99) on the fledgling The WB network. Townsend (who also co-executive produced) played a college professor coping with raising four children in Manhattan.

Filmography

 

Director (Feature Film)

Playin' for Love (2016)
Director
In the Hive (2012)
Director
Why We Laugh: Black Comedians on Black Comedy (2010)
Director
Phantom Punch (2008)
Director
10,000 Black Men Named George (2002)
Director
Hip Hopera: Carmen (2001)
Director
Little Richard (2000)
Director
Livin' For Love: The Natalie Cole Story (2000)
Director
Holiday Heart (2000)
Director
Jackie's Back! (1999)
Director
Love Songs (1999)
Director
B.A.P.S. (1997)
Director
The Meteor Man (1993)
Director
The Five Heartbeats (1991)
Director
Eddie Murphy Raw (1987)
Director
Hollywood Shuffle (1987)
Director

Cast (Feature Film)

Playin' for Love (2016)
Kingdom Come (2012)
Himself
Of Boys and Men (2008)
Tao of the Golden Mask (2007)
I Was a Teenage Faust (2002)
Mr. Five
Undercover Brother (2002)
Jackie's Back! (1999)
Love Songs (1999)
The Taxman (1998)
Peyton Cody
Joseph's Gift (1998)
Mercenary 2: Thick and Thin (1998)
The Meteor Man (1993)
The Five Heartbeats (1991)
That's Adequate (1989)
The Mighty Quinn (1989)
Odd Jobs (1987)
Dwight
Hollywood Shuffle (1987)
Ratboy (1986)
American Flyers (1985)
Jerome
Streets Of Fire (1984)
A Soldier's Story (1984)
Corporal Ellis
In Love with an Older Woman (1982)
Senior Trip! (1981)
Willie & Phil (1980)
Women at West Point (1979)
Russell Baker
The Bounty Man (1972)
Baker

Writer (Feature Film)

Playin' for Love (2016)
Screenplay
The Meteor Man (1993)
Screenplay
The Five Heartbeats (1991)
Screenplay
Hollywood Shuffle (1987)
Screenplay

Producer (Feature Film)

Playin' for Love (2016)
Producer
Why We Laugh: Black Comedians on Black Comedy (2010)
Executive Producer
Of Boys and Men (2008)
Executive Producer
The Five Heartbeats (1991)
Executive Producer
Hollywood Shuffle (1987)
Producer

Music (Feature Film)

Two Brothers (2004)
Music
The Five Heartbeats (1991)
Song Performer

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

Kingdom Come (2012)
Other

Director (Special)

Robert Townsend on Sex in the 20th Century: From Behind Closed Doors (1999)
Director
Great Drives (1996)
Segment Director
The Mutiny Has Just Begun: Robert Townsend & His Partners in Crime III (1989)
Segment Director (Film)
Playing the Nutroll: Robert Townsend & His Partners in Crime IV (1989)
Director (Film Segments)
Robert Townsend and His Partners in Crime (1987)
Director

Cast (Special)

Richard Pryor: I Ain't Dead Yet, #*%$#@!! (2003)
An Evening of Stars: A Celebration of Educational Excellence (2001)
7th Annual BET Walk of Fame (2001)
Host
Making The Movie: MTV's Hip Hop Opera: Carmen (2001)
A Tribute to Black Music Legends (1999)
Host
Soul Train Music Awards: 11th Anniversary (1997)
Performer
All-Star TV Censored Show Me the Bloopers (1997)
Vaudeville (1997)
28th NAACP Image Awards (1997)
Presenter
Great Drives (1996)
10th Annual Soul Train Music Awards (1996)
Performer
Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards (1996)
Performer
The Soul Train 25th Anniversary Hall of Fame Special (1995)
Welcome Home Animaniacs (1995)
The American Film Institute Salute to Steven Spielberg (1995)
Performer
Met Life Presents the Apollo Theatre Hall of Fame (1994)
Host
Laughing Matters (1993)
Count on Me (1993)
Magic Johnson's All-Star Slam 'N Jam (1992)
The 24th Annual NAACP Image Awards (1992)
Performer
Back to School '92 (1992)
The Issue Is Race (1992)
Comic Relief V (1992)
The Movie Awards (1991)
Host
Celebrate the Soul of American Music (1991)
Presenter
A Comedy Salute to Michael Jordan (1991)
A Party for Richard Pryor (1991)
Go Party! (1991)
Ray Charles: 50 Years in Music, Uh-Huh! (1991)
Host
The 22nd Annual NAACP Image Awards (1990)
Performer
Motown 30: What's Goin' On! (1990)
Cutting Edge With Maria Shriver (1990)
Playing the Nutroll: Robert Townsend & His Partners in Crime IV (1989)
All-Star Tribute to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1989)
The 1989 MTV Video Music Awards (1989)
Performer
The Mutiny Has Just Begun: Robert Townsend & His Partners in Crime III (1989)
16th Annual Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame (1989)
Performer
Take No Prisoners: Robert Townsend & His Partners in Crime II (1988)
The 20th Annual NAACP Image Awards (1988)
Performer
The 2nd Annual American Comedy Awards (1988)
Performer
Freedomfest: Nelson Mandela's 70th Birthday Celebration (1988)
Host
That's What Friends Are For: AIDS Concert '88 (1988)
Robert Townsend and His Partners in Crime (1987)
Uptown Comedy Express (1987)
Rodney Dangerfield: It's Not Easy Bein' Me (1986)

Writer (Special)

The Mutiny Has Just Begun: Robert Townsend & His Partners in Crime III (1989)
Writer
Playing the Nutroll: Robert Townsend & His Partners in Crime IV (1989)
Writer
Take No Prisoners: Robert Townsend & His Partners in Crime II (1988)
Writer

Producer (Special)

Robert Townsend on Sex in the 20th Century: From Behind Closed Doors (1999)
Executive Producer
The Mutiny Has Just Begun: Robert Townsend & His Partners in Crime III (1989)
Executive Producer
Playing the Nutroll: Robert Townsend & His Partners in Crime IV (1989)
Executive Producer
Take No Prisoners: Robert Townsend & His Partners in Crime II (1988)
Executive Producer
Robert Townsend and His Partners in Crime (1987)
Executive Producer

Special Thanks (Special)

The Mutiny Has Just Begun: Robert Townsend & His Partners in Crime III (1989)
Writer
Playing the Nutroll: Robert Townsend & His Partners in Crime IV (1989)
Writer
Take No Prisoners: Robert Townsend & His Partners in Crime II (1988)
Writer

Director (TV Mini-Series)

Up, Up and Away (2000)
Director

Cast (TV Mini-Series)

Up, Up and Away (2000)

Life Events

1974

Made film debut with a bit part in "Cooley High"

1979

Early TV movie appearance in the CBS docudrama, "Women at West Point"

1979

Made New York stage debut in "Take It from the Top" at the Henry Street Settlement

1980

Made featured film acting debut in "Willie and Phil"

1987

Made first film as director/writer/actor/producer with "Hollywood Shuffle"

1990

Purchased Hollywood Professional School and renamed it Tinsel Townsend Studios to turn into a mini-studio

1993

Executive produced, hosted, and wrote for "Townsend Television", a variety series on Fox

1995

Co-starred in and co-executive produced "The Parent 'Hood" (The WB)

1998

Hosted the syndicated weekly series "Mowtown Live"

2000

Directed the NBC biopic "The Little Richard Story"

2000

Helmed the TV biopic "The Natalie Cole Story" (NBC)

2001

Was director of the MTV special "Carmen: A Hip Hopera"

2008

Appeared in "Of Boys and Men"

2009

Was the executive producer of "Diary of a Single Mom"

2013

Directed a pair of Bill Cosby documentary projects, "Bill Cosby: Far From Finished" and "Bill Cosby: 77"

2013

Directed and produced "Playin' for Love"

Videos

Movie Clip

Mighty Quinn, The (1989) - There's Been A Homicide In dress-whites at a wedding in the Jamaica-like (where it was shot) island nation, title character, police chief Denzel Washington takes an urgent call and nearly collides with childhood friend Maubee (Robert Townsend), early in The Mighty Quinn, 1989.
Hollywood Shuffle (1987) - Open, There's A Bat In My House Co-writer (with Keenen Ivory Wayans), director, producer, star and self-financier Robert Townsend opens his famous independent feature, rehearsing in the bathroom, Craigus R. Johnson his little brother, Starletta DuPois his mother, Helen Martin his grandmother, Brad Sanders as “Batty,” in Hollywood Shuffle, 1987.
Hollywood Shuffle (1987) - Black Acting School After a couple of introductory vignettes and with spicy language, writer-director Robert Townsend appears in the fantasy sequence, confirming that he’s imagining all this while waiting at a Hollywood audition, Grand L. Bush as both “Mandingo” and “Ricky Taylor,” also Tony Edwards, in Hollywood Shuffle, 1987.
Hollywood Shuffle (1987) - Sneakin' In The Movies Another of the more famous digressions, director, co-writer, star and producer Robert Townsend as Bobby, fantasizing as he awaits word on his audition, with Jimmy Woodard as pal Tyrone, imagines himself hosting a knock-off Siskel & Ebert show, with still more not-usually appropriate language, in Hollywood Shuffle, 1987.
Soldier's Story, A (1984) - White Folks In The Town Robert Townshend is Corporal Ellis, enthusiastic driver for Captain Davenport (Howard E Rollins), the prosecutor sent to Louisiana to investigate the murder of a black sergeant, and who must report to Colonel Nivens (Trey Wilson), who has an attitude, in A Soldier’s Story, 1984, directed by Norman Jewison from Charles Fuller’s play and screenplay.

Family

Robert Townsend
Father
Shirley Townsend
Mother
Sierra Taylor Townsend
Daughter
Born on September 2, 1991.
Skylar Cristan Townsend
Daughter
Born on September 1, 1993.

Companions

Cheri Jones
Wife
Real estate agent. Married on September 15, 1990; she filed for divorce on August 7, 2001.

Bibliography