'Kojak' Actor Roger Robinson How To Get Away With Murder

The Tony Award-winning actor Roger Robinson, a veteran of stage, screen and television productions, died last week in Escondido, California at the age of 78. He succumbed to complications from heart problems.

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Robinson, who appeared in six of the late August Wilson”s 10 plays about the lives of African Americans during the 20th Century, won a 2009 Tony for a revival of “Joe Turner”s Come and Gone.” Set in the 1910s, Wilsons” second play made its Broadway debut in 1988. Robinson, who played Bynum Walker, received the Tony for Best Performance By a Featured Actor in a Play.

His first Tony nomination — also for Best Performance By a Featured Actor in a Play — was in 1996 for role as Hedley in another Wilson play, “Seven Guitars.” 

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On television, Robinson had a recurring role as Detective Gil Weaver on the CBS detective series “Kojak” between 1973 and 1976. He had played a different character in “The Marcus-Nelson Murders,” the 1973 TV-movie that introduced Telly Savalas as NYPD detective Theo Kojack. The spelling was changed to Kojak when Savalas — a frequent movie heavy — began playing the dedicated cop in the series. 

“The Marcus-Nelson Murders” was a fictional account of a controversial rape and murder case that occurred in New York in 1963. Primetime Emmys went to director Joseph Sargent and writer Abby Mann, a 1961 Oscar winner for his “Judgment at Nuremberg” screenplay. Savalas later won a 1974 Emmy for “Kojak” in the category of Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series.

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Savalas (as Kojak) and Robinson 

In recent seasons of the ABC drama series “How to Get Away with Murder,” Robinson played Mac Harkness — the estranged father of the high-powered attorney Annalise Keating (played by Emmy winner Viola Davis). 

He also co-starred with Oprah Winfrey in the 2017 HBO TV-movie “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” based on the true story of a black woman whose cancer cells became important to medical research.

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Robinson”s film credits included: Believe in Me (1971, with Jacqueline Bisset), “Willie Dynamite” (1974, starring Roscoe Orman and Diana Sands), Newman”s Law (1974, with George Peppard), Meteor (1979, which starred Sean Connery and Natalie Wood), It”s My Turn (1980, with Michael Douglas, Jill Clayburgh and Charles Grodin), The Lonely Guy (1984, starring Steve Martin and Grodin) and Brother to Brother (2004, with Anthony Mackie).

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