Roger E. Mosley Tribute: HOLLYWOOD SPOTLIGHT

Actor Roger E. Mosley, best known for his role as the helicopter pilot Theodore “TC” Calvin on the 1980s hit show “Magnum, P.I.,” died Sunday, his daughter announced. He was 83. His career spanned over several notable decades with Mosley staring in Blaxploitation films, tv dramas, movie appearances and commercials. He became well known to America with his signature role in Magnum P.I.


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Mosley's big hulking frame and welcoming smiling face created a star quality that would bring him roles throughout his storied career. Mosley was raised in the Imperial Courts housing project in Watts, Los Angeles California. Born on December 18, 1938 in Los Angeles, California, and raised by his mother, Eloise, Mosley grew up in the Imperial Courts public housing in the Watts neighborhood. Mosley attended Jordan High School pictured below. In 1974, Mosley founded the Watts Repertory Company.

He began collecting credits for small roles in 1971, finding early work in the popular black action films of that era.


Mosley even acted with John Wayne in the police film "McQ." In 1976 Mosley had the leading role in Gordon Parks's biopic "Leadbelly," chronicling the life of the blues performer, and in 1977. In an article in the November 1982 issue of Ebony magazine, Mosley said that this was his favorite role.

He played another historical figure, the boxer Sonny Liston in the Muhammad Ali biopic, "The Greatest." In 1979, Mosley appeared in the sequel to the groundbreaking mini-series "Roots": "Roots: The Next Generations."

 

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Mosley died surrounded by family after being injured in a car crash last week that had left him paralyzed from the shoulders down and in critical condition, the actor’s daughter Ch-a Mosley said Saturday on Facebook. No further details about the crash were available.

Mosley starred in more than 150 episodes of “Magnum, P.I.” alongside Tom Selleck in the crime-adventure series, which aired for eight seasons from 1980 until 1988. Mosley also made an appearance in a more recent reboot of the hit show, as another character, John Booky, according to his IMDb page.


On the show, which was set in Hawaii, TC was a buddy of Selleck's Thomas Magnum from their days in Vietnam, and his character owned a helicopter charter company in Oahu called Island Hoppers. Despite not being allowed to fly on the series, Mosley was a licensed private helicopter pilot in real life.


He appeared in season five of Las Vegas as the billionaire friend of Montecito owner A.J. Cooper (Tom Selleck). Mosley came out of retirement to appear on the Magnum, P.I. reboot episode "A Kiss Before Dying" as Booky, T.C.'s barber, on March 11, 2019. Stephen Hill, who played T.C. in the new series, said, "It is truly an honor for us to welcome an original cast member of Magnum, P.I.; one who embodied the role of T.C. with such thoughtful and dignified talent."


Mosley also guest-starred on such shows as Night Court, Kung Fu, Starsky & Hutch, Kojak, The Rockford Files, Baretta, and Sanford and Son. Mosley made a memorable appearance in the 1973 film The Mack as the militant brother of the main character Goldie. He appeared in other blaxploitation films of the period, including Hit Man (1972), Sweet Jesus, Preacherman (1973), Darktown Strutters (1975), and The River Niger (1976).

Mosley played the role of Sunny Liston facing Muhammad Ali


An Epic Filmography

Mosley's other film credits include McQ (1974) with John Wayne, The Greatest (1977, as Sonny Liston), Semi-Tough (1977), Heart Condition (1990), and Pentathlon (1994). He also starred in the television series Hangin' with Mr. Cooper (1992–1993) as Coach Ricketts in a recurring role with comedian/actor Mark Curry, and in the film A Thin Line Between Love and Hate (1996) with Martin Lawrence, Lynn Whitfield, and Bobby Brown. He also appeared as a celebrity guest on The $25,000 Pyramid for a week's worth of shows in July 1983, July 1984, and June 1985.

Mosley will be remembered as an actor that raised the bar with classy, upstanding portrayals of characters that went beyond racial typecasting. He earned fans from all corners of the world and generated respect from his peers in the industry.


 

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