Jim Brown

Jim Brown


Also Known As
James Brown, James Nathaniel Brown
Birth Place
St. Simons, Georgia, USA
February 17, 1936


Considered by many to be the single greatest player in the history of football, Jim Brown left a record-breaking nine years with the Cleveland Browns at the peak of his abilities to become the strong and silent hero of numerous action films in the 1970s and 1980s, including "The Dirty Dozen" (1968), "Slaughter" (1972) and "I'm Gonna Get You Sucka" (1987). A fierce, unstoppable combatant ...

Family & Companions

Sue Brown
Married in 1959; divorced in 1972.
Ola Ray
Actor, model. Appeared in Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video; had brief relationship c. 1994-95.
Monique Brown
Born c. 1974.


Not to be confused with actor James Brown, who played leads in films during the 1940s or singer James Brown.

Inducted into the Football Hall of Fame


Considered by many to be the single greatest player in the history of football, Jim Brown left a record-breaking nine years with the Cleveland Browns at the peak of his abilities to become the strong and silent hero of numerous action films in the 1970s and 1980s, including "The Dirty Dozen" (1968), "Slaughter" (1972) and "I'm Gonna Get You Sucka" (1987). A fierce, unstoppable combatant on the football field, Brown's athleticism and confidence carried over to his movies, most notably the "blaxploitation" films like "Slaughter" and "Black Gunn" (1972), which minted him as an action hero for the African-American community. Brown served that demographic both on and off the screen through a variety of social programs of his own devising, including the Black Economic Union and the Amer-I-Can Program, which supported black businesses and ex-convicts looking to start their lives over. As a sports hero, screen icon and civil rights activist, Jim Brown led one of the most accomplished lives of the late 20th century.

James Nathaniel Brown was born on Feb. 17, 1936 in the town of St. Simons, located on the island of the same name off the coast of Georgia. The son of professional boxer, Swinton Brown, and his wife, Theresa, he was raised primarily by his grandmother before moving to Manhasset, NY to join his mother, who worked there as a domestic housekeeper. As a student at Manhasset Secondary School, Brown showed his enormous gift for sports by earning 13 letters, including football, baseball, basketball, track and lacrosse. He continued to display his talents as a student at Syracuse University, where he set school records for highest rush average and most rushing touchdowns. In his senior year, he was unanimously elected to the first-team All-American, but even more impressive was the fact that while Brown was breaking records on the gridiron, he was also the second highest scoring player on the Syracuse basketball team, and was the second highest scoring player in American collegiate lacrosse, with 43 goals in 10 games to his name.

Brown's future with the National Football League was all but assured, and in 1956, he was selected in the first round of the professional draft by the Cleveland Browns. There, he exceeded his already stellar college accomplishments by becoming one of the most formidable players the football world had ever seen. In the nine years he played for Cleveland, Brown amassed an astonishing number of records, including the all-time leader in rushing yards (1,863), rushing touchdowns - 100 in all - as well as total touchdowns, all purpose yards and most yards averaged per game for receivers. Brown was also voted into the Pro Bowl every season he played as a professional, and scored three touchdowns alone in his final Bowl game. The key to Brown's success was his physical strength and agility; it was virtually impossible for one player to bring him down when he broke into a full run, and his philosophy regarding his opponents was simple: if someone tackled Brown, he made sure that the other player felt as much pain as he did. When Brown retired from the Browns in 1966, he left behind a legacy that elevated him from great player to legend in the minds of football fans across the country.

Brown had begun to explore acting as a second career while still a player with Cleveland. He made his screen debut as a Buffalo Soldier who aided Richard Boone in seeking out Edmond O'Brien's renegade Confederate veteran in "Rio Conchos" (1964). After his retirement, Brown dove headlong into Hollywood as Robert Jefferson, one of the "Dirty Dozen" (1968). The role, which required Brown to display his supernatural speed in an ill-fated sprint across the courtyard of a Nazi stronghold under siege, largely defined his early screen roles by their pure physicality and lack of strong characterization. Eventually, Brown rose from supporting roles in mainstream features like "Ice Station Zebra" (1968) to the male lead in low-budget action and crime films like "The Split" (1968) and "Riot" (1969). In these and other pictures, Brown projected an air of strength, cool and capability that made him exceptionally popular with both black and white audiences. He was also a ruggedly handsome man, and made for a surprisingly smooth onscreen lover, most notably in the offbeat "Grasshopper" (1969), as a sympathetic former football champ who married flighty Jacqueline Bisset, and the Western "100 Rifles" (1969), where he shared the first interracial love scene with Raquel Welch. By 1970, he was sharing top billing with Oscar winners George Kennedy and Fredric March in ".tick.tick.tick," a racially charged drama about a newly elected black sheriff (Brown) who faced opposition from the predominately white members of his small town.

Brown's elevation from black actor to black superstar came via the wave of urban action or "blaxploitation" films that followed in the wake of "Shaft" (1971). Brown's first foray into the low-budget action world came with "Slaughter" (1972), an ultra-violent drama about a former Green Beret (Brown) who took on Rip Torn and the mobsters that killed his parents. The film's phenomenal success was naturally followed by a sequel, "Slaughter's Big Rip-Off" (1973), and launched Brown as an action star who operated by his own rules, which often ran opposite to that of the white majority, and who dispensed justice with the same violent finality as Hollywood gunslingers of the past. And if the films rarely varied in plot - Brown avenged his brother's death by mobsters in "Black Gunn" (1972), avenged his friend's death by mobsters in "Slaughter's Big Rip-Off" (1973), and saved the world from white supremacists in the delirious "Three the Hard Way" (1974), which co-starred fellow former gridiron great Fred Williamson and karate champ Jim Kelly. Critics largely dismissed the pictures and Brown's performance, though he received solid reviews for his turn as a cruel womanizer in James Toback's bizarre drama, "Fingers" (1978).

As the blaxploitation wave reached its crest in the late 1970s, Brown began to step away from the screen to invest in and promote black-owned businesses through the Black Economic Union, which he helped to found in 1968. In 1980, he became president of Richard Pryor's Indigo Productions, as well as The Pryor Company, for which he served as executive producer of the comic's concert movie, "Richard Pryor. Here and Now" (1983). He was also involved in Coors' Golden Door and Barriers, a pair of job-creation projects that helped ex-convicts reenter society, as well as the Vital Issues Project, which performed a similar duty. In 1988, Brown founded and became president of The Amer-I-Can Program, which provided life and management skills to young urban males, with a particular focus on former gang members. Brown's efforts with these and other programs made him a leading figure in the African-American community, as well as a member of the FBI's watch list in the 1970s.

In the late 1980s and 1990s, Brown's acting career received a boost with memorable supporting roles in several popular films. He played the relentless killer, Fireball, who pursued wrongly accused criminal Arnold Schwarzenegger in "The Running Man" (1987), and parodied his own black action past in Keenan Ivory Wayans' "I'm Gonna Get You Sucka" (1987), which reunited him with fellow '70s tough guys Isaac Hayes, Bernie Casey and Antonio Fargas. One of his favorite roles came in Tim Burton's quirky "Mars Attacks!" (1996), which teamed him with another blaxploitation icon, Pam Grier, as middle-aged Las Vegas workers who fight the invading alien menace. Well into his sixties by this point, Brown still cut a formidable figure, proving he could still carry an action film with 1996's "Original Gangstas," in which his former street tough returned to his hometown to wipe out a new breed of gangsters with the help of Williamson, Grier, Casey and Ron O'Neal of "Superfly" (1971) fame. During this period, Brown also threatened to return to professional football when Pittsburgh Steelers running back Franco Harris appeared ready to break his rushing record. Brown openly disliked Harris' style, and wished to keep the younger man from usurping his title. Harris eventually missed the chance to beat Brown's record, which was later bested by the Chicago Bears' Walter Payton and Steeler Jerome Bettis.

In the late 1990s, Brown's screen output slowed to a few small but notable turns: he joined his fellow "Dirty Dozen" co-stars Ernest Borgnine, George Kennedy and Clint Walker to provide the voices of military action figures come to life in Joe Dante's imaginative "Small Soldiers" (1998), and as a former player-turned-coach in Oliver Stone's "Any Given Sunday" (1999). He also appeared in Spike Lee's "He Got Game" (1998) and "She Hate Me" (2004) in diametrically opposite roles: in the former, he played a tough security guard, while in the latter, he was the ailing, diabetic father of the film's hero (Anthony Mackie). Lee later directed the documentary "Jim Brown: All-American" (2002), which detailed his achievements as an athlete, actor and activist.

Brown began collecting accolades for his extraordinary sports career as early as 1971, when he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He later followed this by elections to the College Football Hall of Fame and Lacrosse Hall of Fame, which made him one of the few s athletes to be a Hall of Fame member in more than one sport. In 2002, The Sporting News named him the greatest professional football player in the history of the game, while "The Top 100: NFL's Greatest Players" (NFL Network, 2010) placed him in the No. 2 spot behind Jerry Rice.



Cast (Feature Film)

I Am Ali (2014)
Draft Day (2014)
Crips and Bloods: Made in America (2008)
Sucker Free City (2005)
Animal (2005)
She Hate Me (2004)
Jim Brown: All American (2002)
Any Given Sunday (1999)
He Got Game (1998)
Small Soldiers (1998)
Original Gangstas (1996)
Mars Attacks! (1996)
The Divine Enforcer (1991)
Twisted Justice (1990)
L.A. Heat (1989)
Crack House (1989)
I'm Gonna Git You Sucka (1988)
The Running Man (1987)
Abducted (1986)
Lady Blue (1985)
One Down Two To Go (1982)
Pacific Inferno (1982)
Clyde Preston
Fingers (1978)
Kid Vengeance (1977)
Mean Johnny Barrows (1976)
Adios Amigo (1976)
Take a Hard Ride (1975)
Three the Hard Way (1974)
Jimmy Lait
The Slams (1973)
Slaughter's Big Rip-Off (1973)
I Escaped From Devil's Island (1973)
Black Gunn (1972)
Slaughter (1972)
El Condor (1970)
The Grasshopper (1970)
Tommy Marcott
...tick...tick...tick... (1970)
Jimmy Price
Kenner (1969)
Riot (1969)
Cully Briston
100 Rifles (1969)
The Split (1968)
Dark of the Sun (1968)
Ice Station Zebra (1968)
Capt. Leslie Anders
The Dirty Dozen (1967)
Robert Jefferson
Rio Conchos (1964)
Sgt. Ben Franklyn
Jet Pilot (1957)
The Reward of the Faithless (1917)

Producer (Feature Film)

Richard Pryor Here and Now (1983)
Executive Producer
Pacific Inferno (1982)
Executive Producer

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

Draft Day (2014)
Jim Brown: All American (2002)

Cast (Special)

O.J.: A Study in Black and White (2002)
Super Bowl XXXVI (2002)
Ali-Frazier I: One Nation... Indivisible (2000)
George Foreman: Blow By Blow (2000)
Bill Russell: My Life, My Way (2000)
Unitas (1999)
Celebrate the Dream: 50 Years of Ebony (1996)
The Journey of the African-American Athlete (1996)
Fields of Fire: Sports in the '60s (1995)
The NFL at 75: An All-Star Celebration (1995)
In This Corner... Boxing's Historic Battles (1994)
19th Annual Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame (1992)
Hammer, Slammer, and Slade (1990)
The Record Breakers of Sport (1990)
Black Champions (1986)

Cast (Short)

The Man Who Makes the Difference (1968)

Life Events


Played professional football with the Cleveland Browns


Made film acting debut, "Rio Conchos"


Retired from professional football


Began acting career in earnest with second film, "The Dirty Dozen"


First received top billing in "The Riot" and "The Split"


Last films for five years, "Fingers" and "Kid Vengeance"


Returned to films in "One Down Two to Go"


Served as president of another Richard Pryor company, a film production unit entitled The Pryor Company; executive produced the in-concert comedy performance film, "Richard Pryor Here and Now"


TV-movie acting debut, "Lady Blue"


First non-US feature credit, the Canadian-produced action film, "Abducted"


Played one of the three starring roles on the ABC action comedy pilot, "Hammer, Slammer and Slade"; series was not picked up by ABC


Had featured role in "Original Gangstas"


Acted in "He Got Game", directed by Spike Lee


Provided character voice for one of the titular "Small Soldiers"


Played a football coach in "Any Given Sunday"


Was subject of documentary "Jim Brown: All American", directed by Spike Lee; produced under auspices of HBO Sports; released theatrically in March


Appeared in the comedy "She Hate Me" directed by Spike Lee

Photo Collections

Ice Station Zebra - Movie Posters
Here are a few movie posters from Ice Station Zebra (1968), starring Rock Hudson, Jim Brown, Ernest Borgnine, and Patrick McGoohan.


Movie Clip

Black Gunn (1972) -- (Movie Clip) You've Got A Lot Of Chops Impatient with an LA socialite (Luciana Paluzzi) seeking his favor, Jim Brown (title character), in the mansion adjoining his plush night club, deals with an intrusion by crazed hit man Kriley (Bruce Glover) and thugs (William Campbell, Don Borisenko) hunting his brother, Jim’s assistant Larry played by Timothy Brown, no relation, but a fellow NFL veteran, in Black Gunn, 1972.
Ice Station Zebra (1968) -- (Movie Clip) My First Name Is Captain At a Scottish naval base, American sub commander Ferraday (Rock Hudson) and crew (Ted Hartley, Sherwood Price) receive smug British agent Jones (Patrick McGoohan) who’s not explaining his mission, relating to a polar research outpost, in Ice Station Zebra, 1968, from an Alistair MacLean novel.
Ice Station Zebra (1968) -- (Movie Clip) I Measure An Officer's Weakness Commander Ferraday (Rock Hudson) has just met tough Marine captain Anders (Jim Brown), brought aboard his sub to command an untested combat team, taking over for junior Lt. Walker (Tony Bill), in writer Alistair MacLean’s Cold War espionage thriller Ice Station Zebra, 1968.
Split, The (1968) -- (Movie Clip) I'll Blow Your Face Off After staging real-world encounters with Ernest Borgnine, Jack Klugman, Donald Sutherland and Warren Oates (as Klinger, Kifka, Negli and Gough) planner Gladys (Julie Harris) explains why heist-man McClain (Jim Brown) has brought them together, in The Split, 1968, also starring Gene Hackman.
Split, The (1968) -- (Movie Clip) You Never Hit Me Before Following credits in which he gets off the bus somewhere on the Pacific Coast Highway, Jim Brown (as "McClain") meets unusually big-haired Julie Harris (as "Gladys") then his ex-wife Ellie (Diahann Carroll), setting the emotional backdrop for the grim all-star caper The Split, 1968.
Split, The (1968) -- (Movie Clip) You Get The Parade SPOILER here in that the outcome of the heist and a murder are revealed, but also the introduction of Gene Hackman, about 70 minutes into the feature, as cop Brill, confronted by head thief McClain (Jim Brown), demanding to know what the cops know, in the all-star football-themed caper The Split, 1968.
Kenner (1969) -- (Movie Clip) Gurus Say A Gun Is Very Bad We’ve just met Jim Brown, title character, an American independent merchant sailor arrived in Bombay, looking for we-don’t-really-know who, and Ricky Cordell as a local kid he’s been ignoring, who thinks his absent dad is also American, when suddenly their interests converge, in Kenner, 1969.
Kenner (1969) -- (Movie Clip) Procession Of Sacred Cows In Bombay, Brit Henderson (Robert Coote), appearing to act in good will, is actually surprised that the knockout drops he had slipped into American merchant sailor Jim Brown’s (the title character) drink haven’t worked yet, in Brown’s first starring role, independent director Steve Sekely working on location, in Kenner, 1969.
Kenner (1969) -- (Movie Clip) Singapore, Christmas Ribbons! Bombay child peddler Saji (Ricky Cordell) fetches his mother (Madlyn Rhue), hoping she can help his new friend (Jim Brown, title character), an American merchant sailor who got drugged and beaten up by local thugs while looking for, maybe, an old adversary, in the low-budget feature Kenner, 1969.
...tick...tick...tick... (1970) -- (Movie Clip) Set Yourself Free Introduction of the Glaser Brothers theme song (Set Yourself Free, by Willis Hoover), as we’ve learned that Mississippi sheriff Little (George Kennedy) lost the election to a black man (Jim Brown), and manages his disgruntled deputies (Don Stroud, Mills Watson), early in director Ralph Nelson’s …tick…tick…tick…, 1970.
...tick...tick...tick... (1970) -- (Movie Clip) It's About That Time First scene for newly elected Mississippi sheriff Jim Price (Jim Brown), at home with brother Fred (Leonard Smith) and wife Mary (Janet MacLachlan) in director Ralph Nelson's ...tick...tick...tick..., 1970.
...tick...tick...tick... (1970) -- (Movie Clip) What If You Can't? Director Ralph Nelson inserts a song from the soundtrack by country music pioneers The Glaser Brothers, as new Mississippi sheriff Jim Price (Jim Brown) arrives to take over, predecessor Little (George Kennedy), deputies (Don Stroud, Mills Watson) and mayor Parks (Fredric March) receiving, in ...tick...tick...tick..., 1970.



Aris Brown
Mother, Monique Brown.


Sue Brown
Married in 1959; divorced in 1972.
Ola Ray
Actor, model. Appeared in Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video; had brief relationship c. 1994-95.
Monique Brown
Born c. 1974.



Not to be confused with actor James Brown, who played leads in films during the 1940s or singer James Brown.

Inducted into the Football Hall of Fame

In January 2000, Brown was sentenced to six months in prison for refusing to undergo domestic violence counseling stemming from an incident involving the vandalizing of his wife's car.