Little Known Black History Fact: Frank Silvera

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  • African-American actor Frank Silvera starred in many top-tier Hollywood shows and films as a white man. The Kingston, Jamaica native held his strongest roles in the 1950’s and 60’s. With a fair-skinned complexion, Silvera usually played the leading white man on Broadway. He wasn’t able to play a black man until he financed his own production of "The Amen Corner" by black writer James Baldwin. He took it further by founding the Theater of Being in 1965 for black actors, to help them get started in Hollywood.

    Silvera appeared in TV shows like Perry Mason opposite Raymond Burr – as a white man. Other times, he played a Latino, like in his role opposite Paul Newman in the 1967 film “Hombre” and the NBC western series “The High Chaparral” as Mexican squire Don Sebastian Montoya. He also got roles as an Italian man, like in the 1967 production of “The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre” where he played Nick Sorello.

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