EXPIRED: 07/22/10 – Carl Gordon, 78, never knew what he wanted to be when he grew up. So he waited until he grew up to make that decision.
Born in Goochland, Virginia, and was raised in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, Gordon didn’t see much of a future for himself. So he enlisted in the Air Force and served in the Korean War as an aircraft mechanic. When he got out her went to Brooklyn College for a spell but it wasn’t for him and he ended up falling back onto menial labor factory and warehouse jobs.
Then, fed up with where his life had taken him, he looked back at two failed marriages and many failed jobs. It was all an act, he must have thought.
And that was it — it was just an act.
At age 37, Gordon entered acting school: Gene Frankel’s Theatre and Film Workshop in New York City to be precise. Eventually he started getting callbacks.
In 1984 John Sayles cast him in the movie The Brother from Another Planet. On Broadway he played in August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson, the fourth of 10 plays in his Pittsburgh Cycle, in Ain’t Supposed to Die a Natural Death, and in a 2003 production of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom with Charles S. Dutton and Whoopi Goldberg.
Gordon’s work with Dutton was fortunate, because when the latter was given his own TV show, Roc, he cast the elder actor to play his father, Andrew Emerson. It was a breakout role that some called “the black Archie Bunker” for the way it dealt with it politics, racism and inner city drug problems with a keen sense of humor.
For it’s last two seasons, Roc aired live and unedited, something daring even in today’s world of high stakes TV. Some of the cast, like a young Jamie Foxx, hated the live shows, but performing live didn’t faze Gordon. He described the experience as being “like going back to Broadway.”
The FOX network cancelled Roc in 1993.
Afterwards Gordon found work on ER, The Practice, Felicity, Jag, Malcolm & Eddie, Nash Bridges and Law and Order, and had just wrapped filming a new movie, currently in post-production, called Somebody’s Hero.