Actor Raymond St. Jacques, known for his breakthrough roles in such movies as “Black Like Me” and “Glory” as well as the TV miniseries “Roots,” has died of cancer. He was 60.
St. Jacques died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center at 1:30 p.m. Monday, hospital spokeswoman Paula Correia said Tuesday. He had been under treatment for cancer of the lymph glands since entering the hospital on July 30.
St. Jacques, who stood 6 feet, 3 inches tall, was what one reviewer called “an organ-voiced actor” when he starred as Othello in the John Anson Ford Theater production in 1976. He was fluent in French and Italian, and appeared nationally in theater performances of “The Man With the Golden Arm,” “Romeo and Juliet,” “Raisin in the Sun” and “Julius Caesar.”
“Black Like Me” was his first movie, made with James Whitmore in 1964, and he had a small, striking role in Sidney Lumet’s “The Pawnbroker” the same year.
Five years after he starred as a tough Harlem detective in “Cotton Comes to Harlem,” he told an interviewer that minorities had become a much stronger presence in film: “There are ethnic minorities on both sides of the camera and there weren’t before. There are black producers, directors and technicians . . . that’s a notable change from when I first arrived, believe me.”
St. Jacques then lauded the more realistic portrayal of black experience. “There are audiences going to see movies like ‘Sounder’ and ‘Claudine’ and a few others. I’m a swinger but ‘Superfly’ had me out the door. . . . That’s one film that did have an effect, and not good. Why does it have to be pimps and pushers on the screen all the time?”
His motion picture credits also included “Mister Moses” in 1965, “Mister Buddwing” in 1966, “The Comedians” in 1967 and “The Green Berets” in 1968.
His was also a familiar face on a variety of television shows. He most recently portrayed the judge on the syndicated TV show “Superior Court.”
St. Jacques is survived by his mother, Vivienne, and a sister, Barbara Birt, both of New Haven, Conn. Funeral arrangements were incomplete.