Ben Vereen : Biography, Pictures, Photos, Trivia, Address, Filmography (Tenspeed and Brown Shoe)

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Ben Vereen

Photos Ben Vereen Birth name: Benjamin Augustus Middleton
Birth date: 1946/10/10 (76 years old)
Birth place : Miami (Floride)
Height: 1.73 m

French Traduire

Biography for Ben Vereen

A glitzy, indefatigable showman if ever there was one, Ben Vereen's career as a preeminent song-and-dance man has enjoyed international attention. Brooklyn-born (on October 10, 1946) and raised, inspiration came growing up in the Bedford-Stuyvesant area where he sang in churches and choirs that toured throughout the borough. During his formative years, he was inspired by dance so his mother found a way to enroll him at a dance studio. Taking to it all like a duck to water, he went on to attend New York's High School of the Performing Arts and Emerson College. He was only 18 when he made his New York stage bow off-off Broadway in "The Prodigal Son." Following an understudy role to Sammy Davis Jr. in "Golden Boy,", he was cast in a 1967 touring company of "Sweet Charity" and found his true, expressionistic dance style in the form of Bob Fosse, going on to make a minor film debut as one of the "Frug dancers" in the film version of Sweet Charity (1969). He served as a replacement in the Broadway rock musical cast of "Hair" in 1969 and played both the lead roles of Claude and Berger during his run.

The early 1970s movement of "peace and love" proved to be his star-making era on Broadway. His soulful, captivating portrayal of Judas in Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Jesus Christ Superstar" earned him the promising Theatre World Award and a Tony nomination. After a season with the National Shakespeare Company, Vereen was cast as "The Leading Player" in the 1972 Broadway musical "Pippin" and electrified audiences in a performance of almost mythic proportions. He finally grabbed the Tony and Drama Desk awards that year.

TV risked to capture this amazing new and exciting energy by making him host/performer of the limited summer variety series entitled "Ben Vereen... Comin' at Ya" (1975). As talented as the man indeed was, the show came off slick, artificial and self-indulgent for a "star" that nobody knew outside of New York's Great White Way. While the feel of a live audience would always be Vereen's preferred domain, the indomitable performer did not give up on TV. He went on to earn a critical nod playing the great "Satchmo" in Louis Armstrong - Chicago Style (1976) (TV), and garnered an Emmy nomination for his superb portrayal of "Chicken George" in the ground-breaking mini-series "Roots" (1977) (mini). He showcased again on TV, this time as a star, in the 1978 musical special "Ben Vereen...His Roots", and won the Emmy statuette. A couple of seasons later he co-starred with Jeff Goldblum in the Stephen J. Cannell private eye show "Tenspeed and Brown Shoe" (1980) and enjoyed a recurring role on "Webster" (1983). As for film work, it seemed that small, energetic doses was all that was in the offering. While he enjoyed his brief dazzling moment in a Funny Lady (1975) musical sequence, which earned him a Golden Globe nomination, and a flashy cameo in the musical finale of the surreal Bob Fosse semi-autobiographical All That Jazz (1979), he proved far too big for the large screen.

Vereen has commanded stages and showrooms all over the world: in Vegas, Atlantic City, Lake Tahoe, and throughout the United States, Europe, Asia and the Caribbean. He has also had his share of personal sorrow. Vereen's 16-year-old child died in a car accident in 1987, and Vereen himself was seriously injured after being struck by a car while walking on Pacific Coast Highway, a couple of miles from his home in Malibu in 1992. Vereen had to undergo a lengthy rehabilitation process, sustaining head and internal injuries and a broken leg.

But the show has gone on. Although he has returned to performing, he has slowed down the pace. He has enjoyed fine reviews in supporting roles (mostly musical) in such productions as "Jelly's Last Jam," "Chicago," "I'm Not Rappaport," "Fosse," "Wicked" and "A Christmas Carol" (as the Ghost of Christmas Present). TV guest spots have included yeoman work on "Touched by an Angel," "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air," "Star Trek-The Next Generation," "The Promised Land," "Oz" and an Emmy nominated guest role on "The Intruders." A self-proclaimed spiritually-guided individual, he is also a noted motivational speaker and humanitarian.


Photos Ben Vereen n_5 Photos Ben Vereen n_5 Photos Ben Vereen n_5 Photos Ben Vereen n_5 Photos Ben Vereen n_5


Title Role
Idlewild (2006)
Feast of All Saints (2001) (TV) Rudolphe Lermontant
The Painting (2001) Whistlin' Willie Weston
Fosse (2001) (TV) Performer
I'll Take You There (1999) Mr. Gwin
Promised Land
The Jamie Foxx Show
Soldier of Fortune, Inc.
Why Do Fools Fall In Love (1998) Richard Barrett
American Masters
Second Noah
Touched by an Angel
New York Undercover
Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child (1995) TV Series (voice) Snake
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Episode Lou Smith
Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Once Upon a Forest (1993) (voice) Phineas
Intruders (1992) (TV) Gene Randall
Silk Stalkings (1991) TV Series Capt. Hutchinson (1991-1993)
Mother Goose Rock 'n' Rhyme (1990) (TV) Itsy Bitsy Spider
The Kid Who Loved Christmas (1990) (TV)
Buy & Cell (1989) Shaka
J.J. Starbuck (1987) TV Series E.L. 'Tenspeed' Turner (1988)
Jenny's Song (1988) (TV) Joe
The Saint in Manhattan (1987) (TV) Pianist in bar
Zoobilee Zoo (1986) TV Series Mayor Ben
You Write the Songs (1986) TV Series Host
Lost in London (1985) (TV) Paul Williams
Faerie Tale Theatre
The Zoo Gang (1985) The Winch
A.D. (1985) (mini) TV Series Ethiopian
Webster (1983) TV Series Uncle Phillip Long (1984-1985)
Ellis Island (1984) (mini) TV Series Roscoe Haines
The Jesse Owens Story (1984) (TV) Herb Douglas
Breakin' Through (1984) (TV)
The Charmkins (1983) (V) (voice) Dragonweed
The Love Boat
Sabine (1982) Stanley
Pippin: His Life and Times (1981) (TV) The leading player
Uptown: A Tribute to the Apollo Theatre (1980) (TV) Host
Tenspeed and Brown Shoe (1980) TV Series E.L. Turner
Tenspeed and Brown Shoe (1980) (TV) E.L. 'Tenspeed' Turner
All That Jazz (1979) O'Connor Flood
The Cheryl Ladd Special (1979) (TV)
Roots (1977) (mini) TV Series 'Chicken' George Moore
Louis Armstrong - Chicago Style (1976) (TV) Louis Armstrong
Mary's Incredible Dream (1976) (TV) Devil/Noah/Man
Ben Vereen... Comin' at Ya (1975) TV Series Host
Funny Lady (1975) Bert Robbins
The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson
Gas-s-s-s (1971) Carlos


Tony Award winner for "Pippin"

He was understudy for Sammy Davis Jr. in the 1964 Broadway musical "Golden Boy".

Was named as "King of Brooklyn" at the Welcome Back to Brooklyn Festival in 1985

Won Broadway's 1973 Tony Award as Best Actor (Musical) for "Pippin." Was nominated the year before, in 1972, as Best Supporting or Featured Actor (Musical) for "Jesus Christ, Superstar."

Played both Madge Sinclair's husband and LeVar Burton's father in two different productions: "Roots" (1977) (mini) and "Star Trek: The Next Generation" (1987).

In June of 1992, he suffered a stroke following a minor car accident in which he hit his head on the steering wheel earlier that day. He recovered and after extensive physical and occupational therapy, was able to dance again.

Is a vegan.

Graduated from the New York's High School of the Performing Arts

Of modest beginnings, his father James was a factory worker and mother Pauline a maid and wardrobe mistress.


Spouse : Nancy Bruner (1968 - present) 4 children, Andrea Townsley (? - ?) (divorced) 1 son

1 son, Ben, with first wife. 4 daughters (Kabara, Malaika, Naja and Karon) with current wife.

In 1987 his daughter, Naja, was killed in a car accident at the age of 16.

Is the godfather of singer/dancer/actor Usher Raymond.

Author of the card

  • Creation date: 01/07/2003 by shaunnah
  • Last update: 01/05/2007 by abdest

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