Cancer Claims Character Actor Rafael Campos

Veteran character actor Rafael Campos, who got his start in the role of a juvenile delinquent in "Blackboard Jungle," has died at the Motion Picture and Television Hospital, a spokeswoman for the Woodland Hills facility confirmed Wednesday. He was 49.

Campos, who died Tuesday, had been at the hospital since last December, when stomach cancer was diagnosed.

A native of the Dominican Republic, Campos came to the United States in 1949, studied acting for a time and was spotted by film writer and director Richard Brooks, who cast him with other unknown young actors--including Sidney Poitier and Vic Morrow--in "Blackboard Jungle," a 1955 release starring Glenn Ford as a besieged inner-city schoolteacher. Campos played a young Puerto Rican.

He went on to other features films, including "The Trial" (1955), "The Appaloosa" (1966) and "Oklahoma Crude" (1973). He also appeared in numerous television parts, including a recurring role in "Rhoda" and the "Centennial" miniseries.

In his later years, Campos worked as a writer and director. At the time of his illness, he was writing a book about Latinos in film and had recently directed a play in New York.

On Friday, Campos will be posthumously honored with an award from Nosotros, a group promoting Latino participation in movies, television and theater, for his contributions to Latino culture, according to a spokeswoman for his agents.

Campos, who was divorced twice, was once married to the late blues singer Dinah Washington. He is survived by two daughters, Lucy and Mimi, as well as five brothers and three sisters.

Funeral services will be held Friday at 1 p.m. at Pierce Brothers, Meyer-Mitchell Chapel in Van Nuys, with burial in Valley Oaks Memorial Park.

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