Godfrey Cambridge Biography

Godfrey Cambridge was an American actor and comedian who was considered one of the most celebrated black comics of his time. Read this biography to know about his childhood, birthday, family life, achievements and fun facts about him.

Godfrey Cambridge
Quick Facts

Birthday: February 26, 1933

Nationality: American

Famous: Actors Stand-up Comedians

Died At Age: 43

Sun Sign: Pisces

Also Known As: Godfrey MacArthur Cambridge

Born in: New York City, New York

Famous as: Actor

Family:

father: Alexander Cambridge

mother: Sarah Cambridge

children: Gillian Cambridge, Stephanie Cambridge

Died on: November 29, 1976

place of death: Burbank, California

Cause of Death: Heart Attack

City: New York City

U.S. State: New Yorkers

More Facts

education: Hofstra College, City College of New York

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Godfrey Cambridge was an American actor and comedian who was called one of the most celebrated black comics by Time magazine. Known for his unique comedy style, he played many humorous and dramatic characters in the early 1970s. His parents were immigrants from British Guiana and Godfrey was born to them in New York City. However, his early years were spent in Nova Scotia, Canada, where he lived with his grandparents, as his parents did not like the public-school system of New York. After graduating from school, Godfrey studied medicine for three years before deciding to pursue a career in acting. As his acting career was yet to pick up, he supported himself by doing many odd jobs, including that of a cab driver, bead sorter, ambulance driver, gardener and New York City Housing Authority clerk. One of his most memorable films is ‘Watermelon Man’, in which he played a white man who turns black overnight. Godfrey was a thoughtful, charming, quick-witted and brutally frank person, whose intelligence commanded respect from everyone he came across.

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Godfrey Cambridge
Career
  • Godfrey Cambridge made his acting debut with a minor role in the off-Broadway production of ‘Take a Giant Step’ in 1956. It opened the door to many more television and Broadway roles. His performance in the 1961 play ‘The Blacks: A Clown Show’ was highly appreciated, and he also won an ‘Obie Award’ for it. A year later, he was nominated for a Tony Award along with the cast of the play ‘Purlie Victorious’. Godfrey joined the Greenwich Village integrated comedy revue ‘Living Premise’ and continued to perform comedy gigs there. His appearance on the ‘The Jack Paar Show’ (TV) earned him national fame and invitations to perform at top-tier comedy clubs. He then signed a contract with ‘Epic Records’ and started presenting ‘The Godfrey Cambridge Show: Recorded Live at The Aladdin’, Las Vegas, from 1960 to 1965. His other popular comedy albums are ‘Ready or Not’, ‘Here’s Godfrey Cambridge’, ‘Them Cotton Pickin’ Days is Over’ and ‘Godfrey Cambridge Toys With the World’.
  • In the late 1960s, Godfrey played a variety of roles on stage and screen. His notable films included ‘The President's Analyst’ (1967), ‘Watermelon Man’ (1970), ‘Cotton Comes to Harlem’ (1970) and its sequel ‘Come Back, Charleston Blue’ (1972). In ‘Watermelon Man’, he brilliantly portrayed a white bigot who wakes up one morning to discover that he has turned black overnight. He worked in the 1965 theater production of ‘A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum’. Godfrey also appeared in television shows like ‘Cars 54, Where Are You?’ (1963) and ‘The Dick Van Dyke Show’ (1966). But he gained most popularity for his series of comical commercials for the underwear brand Jockey. In 1970, he hosted, financed and produced ‘Dead is Dead’. The drug awareness film provided insight into the lives of drug junkies going through addiction and withdrawal phases.
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Family & Personal Life
  • Godfrey Cambridge was born on February 26, 1933, in New York City, New York, to an immigrant couple from British Guiana. His parents lived in Sydney and Nova Scotia before moving to Harlem, New York. His father Alexander Cambridge worked as a day laborer, while his mother Sarah Cambridge was a garment factory worker. Since his parents were dissatisfied with the public school system in New York, they sent Godfrey to Nova Scotia to live with his grandparents. His grandfather worked in a coal mine and ran a grocery store as well. Godfrey moved back to New York at the age of 13 and attended ‘Flushing High School’ there. In 1949, he won a four-year scholarship to study medicine at the ‘Hofstra University’. After studying medicine for three years, he discontinued his college education to pursue a career in acting. While studying at Hofstra, he appeared in a student production of ‘Macbeth’ and encountered racial prejudice for the first time.
  • Godfrey Cambridge married Barbara Ann Teer, an actress, writer and producer, in 1962. Their marriage lasted only for a brief period, and they got divorced in 1965. He married Audriano Meyers in 1972, and they had two daughters named Stephanie and Gillian. Godfrey was a talented photographer who displayed his photographs at a New York City exhibition. He also wrote a book called ‘Put-Ons and Put-Downs’ in 1967. He died from a massive heart attack on the set of ‘Victory at Entebbe’ on November 29, 1976. He was supposed to play the role of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in the made-for-television action drama film. Afterwards, Amin stated that Godfrey's death was god's punishment to the comedian for agreeing to portray the dictator in a bad light in ‘Victory at Entebbe’.
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How To Cite

Article Title
- Godfrey Cambridge Biography
Author
- Editors, TheFamousPeople.com
Website
- TheFamousPeople.com
URL
https://www.thefamouspeople.com/profiles/godfrey-cambridge-44945.php
Last Updated
- June 05, 2019

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