Roger E. Mosley, Actor Best Known for ‘Magnum, P.I.,’ Dies at 83

Roger E. Mosley earned accolades for playing real-life characters like Sonny Liston and Leadbelly as action-ready helicopter pilots in the hit 1980s television series Magnum, PI. On the big screen, he died Sunday in Los Angeles. he was 83 years old.

He died last month after being injured in a car accident in Lynnwood, Calif., paralyzed from the shoulders down.His daughter Cha Mosley. announced on facebook.

Mosley, who grew up in a public housing project in the Watts section of Los Angeles, has appeared in dozens of TV shows over four decades, starting with 1970s classics such as “Cannon” and “Sanford and Son.” In 1979, he also appeared in the miniseries Roots: The Next Generations.

He aspired to a film career and made early appearances in the so-called blaxploitation films of the early 1970s. “Hitman” When “The Mac” He also appeared in ‘Terminal Island’, a 1973 grindhouse film, which also starred Tom Selleck, who later recommended him for ‘Magnum, PI’.

At 6 feet 2 inches tall, strap-on Mr. Mosley was often cast as a bruiser. But his natural warmth and humour are the most macho, including the title role in his 1976 film Leadbelly, which depicts the quarrels of early 20th-century folk and blues pioneer Haddy Ledbetter. It also adds depth to the part.of best biography Of the musicians I have ever seen. “

‘Leadbelly’ offered black audiences ‘a kind of movie’ they are hungry,Mosley said in a 1976 People magazine article: “Super He’s not a Fly character, it’s the story of a real man.”

The following year, he starred in the 1977 film The Greatest as heavyweight boxing champion Sonny Liston, famously dethroned in 1964 by Muhammad Ali (then known as Cassius Clay). played and received critical acclaim.

Mosley’s career continued to thrive during the decade, but it was the popular CBS crime drama PI Magnum that ran from 1980 to 1988 that brought him widespread recognition.

His character Theodore Calvin, better known as TC, is a rugged yet cynical Vietnam War veteran helicopter pilot. rescue Thomas Magnum, a character from private detective Tom Selleck who wears a Hawaiian shirt and drives a Ferrari, lived in a guest house in a luxurious mansion when he was in danger in the jungles and beaches of Maui. , Mosley was a licensed helicopter pilot, but was not allowed to perform his own stunts on the show.)

The part was originally written for white actor Gerald McCraney, The Hollywood Reporter wrote in Mosley’s obituary, but producers reached out to Mosley to bring more diversity to the cast. .

Mosley reportedly initially had little interest in the role, as he had his sights set on working in a feature film.

“I am a good actor, black manas Mosley said on “Entertainment Tonight” in 1985: For example, he refused to let his “Magnum” characters drink or smoke.

He said the show’s diversity was a factor in its success. “we have me for black people, Europeans have John, women have Magnum, ”he said. (John Hillerman played Higgins, the grumpy English caretaker of the estate, but Mr. Hillerman was actually American.)

When CBS rebooted “Magnum” in 2018, Mr. Mosley appeared in two episodes as the barber, with Jay Hernandez as Magnum and Stephen Hill as TC.

Roger Earl Mosley was born on December 18, 1938 in Los Angeles. As the eldest of three children, he was raised by his mother, Eloise, a school cafeteria worker, and his stepfather, Luther, who ran her tire shop in Watts. Wheeler, his son Brandon Mosley said. (His mother later changed her name to Sjuan, pronounced “swan.”)

In addition to his daughter, Cha, and son, Brandon, Mr. Mosley’s survivors include his wife, Antoinette, and another son, Trace Lankford. Another daughter, Leni, her Mosley, who died in 2019. His first marriage was divorced in 1960 to Sandra J. Locke.

Mosley was a standout wrestler at Jordan High School in Watts, but decided to give acting a try after graduation, taking drama classes at the Mahundi Institute, the area’s arts education center. One day, a visiting director from Universal Pictures lectured a class on the self-discipline necessary to succeed in the field.

“I know an actor who had to eat a ketchup sandwich,” Mosley recalled him saying in 1976.

Mr. Mosley countered. He knows someone who eats ketchup sandwiches to survive. I need someone to give me rest. “

“Young man, I hope to see you in the studio next Wednesday,” said the director.

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