I’ve been thinking about Bernie Casey for some time and the unfortunate event on 4/21/16 has pushed me further to give props to our treasures while they’re still here.
Last year, I did a poll that asked the public who they felt the most underrated Blaxploitation actor was at the time. The winner was the late Vonetta McGee but my personal choice was Bernie Casey for the following reasons.
His range of on-screen characters from the guilt-ridden officer on Cornbread, Earl and Me to the hard-loving but callous (he fed Pam Grier to a lion for pimping out his teenage sister...a real lion with fangs and shit) hustler from Hit Man and long before Dr. Huxtable, he portrayed a loving SINGLE father from the 'burbs on the short-lived network drama Harris & Company. Let’s not forget the scary flicks like Dr. Black and Mr. Hyde or Gargoyles.
Like Prince, this Gemini has definitely about diversity in his career. His image was also one of quiet mystery. Like Jim Brown, he’s a former football player but his acting was a little more cerebral. Casey has his own rugged good looks that surpassed the pretty-boy stance of Fred Williamson. Yet, he seemed to be more about a fun and realness that Sidney Poitier and thespians before him lacked in their on-screen presence. And though the super-smoothness of Billy Dee Williams still holds strong today, Casey is still in a class of his own.,,which for me, seems a little closer to earth.
Though most of his work is during the Blaxploitation period, he has managed to make appearances on TV and a few movies until about 2006. It would be nice if Quentin Tarantino could give Casey one of Sam Jackson’s parts in his next flick or a strong supporting role so that he could be exposed to a new audience.
Below is a clip from his early 80s miniseries, Sophisticated Gents, where he and a few other familiar faces, like Robert Hooks and Thalmus Rasulala, from the Blaxploitation area show a more multifaceted side of themselves. Finally, here’s a funny but offbeat article I read about Bernie Casey a few years ago. Courtesy of Acid Logic.