Handsome, outgoing African American leading man Larry Riley attended Memphis State University. Riley made his Broadway debut in the generically-titled 1978 production A Broadway Musical. He played GI ballplayer/C&W singer C.J. Memphis in Charles Fuller's 1981 Pulitzer Prize-winning A Soldier's Play, then repeated the role in the 1984 film version, A Soldier's Story. This and Crackers (1985) were Riley's only big-screen appearances, though he was seen in the made-for-TV Long Gone (1987) and Polly (1988). His last major Broadway gig was as Jim in Roger Miller's Huckleberry Finn-inspired musical Big River. Larry Riley died of AIDs two weeks before his 40th birthday.