Earl Cameron, Barrier-Breaking British Actor, Is Dead at 102

Earl Cameron, Barrier-Breaking British Actor, Is Dead at 102


In the 1930s, Mr. Cameron joined the British Merchant Navy, sailing to New York and other ports. He arrived in London in 1939 on a ship called the Eastern Prince and remained there during the Blitz. As a Black man from the colonies, he later recalled, he had great difficulty finding a job and ended up working in hotel kitchens as a dishwasher.

One of those hotels was in the West End, London’s theater district, where he befriended jazz musicians and actors. In 1941, he talked his way into a part in the chorus of a musical based on the Ali Baba stories. He was hooked. For the next 35 years he worked consistently, spending a decade in theater before breaking into film and television.

In 1979, Mr. Cameron gave up acting and moved with his family to the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific, where he ran an ice cream shop called Mr. B-Kool and helped establish a Baha’i community. When his wife, Audrey, died of breast cancer in 1994, Mr. Cameron returned to England, remarried and resumed his film career as if he’d never been away.

He had a plum role as an African dictator in the United Nations thriller “The Interpreter” (2005), directed by Sydney Pollack. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone called his performance “subtle and menacing.” It was a wonderful turn against type: Mr. Cameron, who had an almost serene presence both onscreen and off, was more often cast in sympathetic parts.

In 2009, Mr. Cameron was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire.

In addition to his daughter Serena, from his first marriage, Mr. Cameron is survived by his wife, Barbara Cameron; a son from an early relationship, Quinton Astwood; four other children from his first marriage, Jane Sanders, Helen Rutstein, Philippa Cameron and Simon Cameron; 11 grandchildren; 12 great-grandchildren; and four great-great-grandchildren.



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