[Source: The Los Angeles Times]
5) Larry Riley
Best known for his role in the film “A Soldiers Story”and for playing Frank Williams in the prime-time TV soap opera “Knots Landing,” Riley was an award-winning actor whose thespian career included stints in Hollywood and Broadway.
Riley was Knots Landing’s first Black regular during his five seasons with the show. But, in the final years of his life, he dropped 80 pounds from is 220-pound frame. The dramatic weight loss shocked viewers; he blamed it on kidney issues. Though what viewers (and most of his friends, co-workers and family) did not realize was that he was dying on national television.
His acting career was what kept his spirits high during the final days of his life. During an appointment with his doctor, Riley reported asked him not, “How long can I live?” but “All right—how long can I work?”, according to an account by his second wife, Nina.
He died in 1992 at the age of 39. He was nominated for an “Soap Opera Digest Award” that year.
6) Max Robinson
Robinson became America’s first major network anchorman when he began co-anchoring ABC’s “World News Tonight” in 1978. He won several regional Emmys for his documentary on black life in Anacostia entitled “The Other Washington.” Though, as outspoken as he was on racial injustice, he was virtually silent about his own AIDS status.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times soon after Robinson’s death, AIDS activist Don Edwards said the anchorman could have been a credible voice for Black people who were living with AIDS had he been open about his own illness.
“I’m saddened in the sense that Max Robinson had a real significant value as a symbol for the black community and it would have been more powerful had Max Robinson been enlisted (in the fight against AIDS) while he was alive, talking about himself as a person with AIDS.”
His life ended at the age of 49 in Washington, D.C.
[Source: Los Angeles Times]
7) Arthur Ashe
Unlike today’s Black athletes, Ashe was a socially-conscience tennis legend who used his celebrity to speak out against injustice. (He was arrested for protesting the George H.W. Bush administration’s treatment of Haitain refugees) He is also the only Black man to win the Wimbledon singles title. Ashe was tennis’s first black millionaire.
The tennis legend believed he contracted HIV through a blood transfusion in 1983; he was diagnosed in 1988 after he entered New York Hospital for emergency brain surgery. Though his diagnosis did not stop his activism. Ashe helped create inner-city tennis programs for youths in Newark, Detroit, Atlanta, Kansas City and Indianapolis, according to the New York Times.
At the time of his death, women’s tennis great Pam Shriver told The Times that his influence in life was as great as his prowess on the tennis court.
“He was a voice for all the minorities, and that goes for women, too,” she said. “He brought a level of conscience to the game, whether he was speaking on South Africa or inner-city minorities or exclusionary policies anyplace. Arthur’s influence on tennis didn’t fade after he left the sport.”
He died in 1993 at the age of 49.
[Source: New York Times]
Originally seen on http://newsone.com/