Melvin Van Peebles

Birthday: Aug 21, 1932
Birthplace: Not Available
The son of a black Chicago tailor, Melvin Van Peebles attended West Virginia State College, then earned a BA from Ohio Wesleyan. Van Peebles served three years in the Air Force as a navigator/bombardier. Out of uniform, Van Peebles pursued a painting career, made a handful of amateur films, and held down jobs as a postal worker and San Francisco cable-car grip. Refusing ever to allow grass to grow under his feet, he spent some time in Mexico, attended graduate school in Holland and picked up spare change (and a few overnight jail terms) as an unlicensed street entertainer in Paris. Still a relatively young man, he remained in Paris to write five novels (all in English, because he never bothered to learn any French); one of these was La Permission, the story of a star-crossed interracial romance. On the strength of his book, Van Peebles became eligible for admission to the French Cinema Center as a director. Unexpectedly receiving a grant of $70,000, he converted La Permission into his first feature film, The Story of a Three-Day Pass (1968). On the strength of this film, Van Peebles was courted by several Hollywood studios, who had no idea he was African American and assumed he was a French auteur. While few studios in 1968 were willing to take a chance on a black director (couldn't offend any bigots, you know), Columbia Pictures gave Van Peebles carte blanche to direct a satirical comedy-fantasy on the topic of black-white stereotyping, Watermelon Man (1970). He kept the costs low on this project so that he could invest his salary into a privately financed labor of love, Sweet Sweetback's Baadassss Song (1970). Crude and offensive by "establishment" standards, this tale of a black fugitive's one-man vendetta against Whitey proved to be an enormous hit with African American audiences. It also proved that Hollywood had itself a genuine "renaissance man" in Van Peebles; he not only produced, directed, wrote and starred in Sweet Sweetback, but also edited and scored the film. Having briefly satiated his filmmaking aspirations, Van Peebles turned to Broadway, writing and scoring the 1971 musical Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death. His next theatrical project was 1972's Don't Play Us Cheap, which won first prize at the Belgian Film Festival when a hastily produced movie version was offered in competition. Since that time, VanPeebles has developed a TV-movie pilot, Just an Old Sweet Song (1977), and has written and acted in a number of movie and TV projects, frequently in collaboration with his actor/director son Mario Van Peebles. As of this writing, Melvin Van Peebles' only movie directorial effort of the past two decades has been the hit-and-miss fantasy Identity Crisis (1990).

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Highest Rated Movies

Filmography

MOVIES

CREDIT
37% Peeples Grandpa Peeples $9.2M 2013
28% We the Party Original Baadasssss 2012
No Score Yet Bring Your 'A' Game Actor 2012
92% The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 Actor $0.2M 2011
27% Confessionsofa Ex-Doofus-ItchyFooted Mutha Actor Screenwriter Director Producer 2008
No Score Yet Blackout George 2007
No Score Yet Classified X Actor 2007
No Score Yet American Stag Actor 2006
92% How to Eat Your Watermelon in White Company (And Enjoy It) Actor 2005
50% The Hebrew Hammer Sweetback 2003
No Score Yet Fuehrer Ex (Führer Ex) Director 2003
57% Jim Brown: All-American Actor 2002
No Score Yet Baadasssss Cinema Actor 2001
No Score Yet Bellyful Director Screenwriter 2000
No Score Yet Love Kills Abel 1999
No Score Yet Classified X Narrator Screenwriter Executive Producer 1998
No Score Yet Riot Vernon 1997
No Score Yet Gang in Blue Andre Speier Director Producer 1996
No Score Yet Calm at Sunset Bucket 1996
27% Panther Cynical Jail Bird Producer Screenwriter 1995
No Score Yet Fist of the North Star Asher 1995
20% Terminal Velocity Noble 1994
60% Tales of Erotica Director Producer Screenwriter 1994
29% Posse Papa Joe 1993
44% Boomerang Editor 1992
43% True Identity Taxi Driver 1991
No Score Yet Satchmo: Louis Armstrong Louis Armstrong 1990
No Score Yet Identity Crisis Director Producer 1989
No Score Yet O.C. and Stiggs Wino Bob 1987
0% Jaws: The Revenge Mr. Witherspoon 1987
No Score Yet America Actor 1986
No Score Yet The Sophisticated Gents Actor Producer 1981
No Score Yet Greased Lightning Screenwriter 1977
No Score Yet Just an Old Sweet Song Screenwriter 1976
No Score Yet Don't Play Us Cheap Director Screenwriter 1973
75% Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song Sweetback Screenwriter 1971
No Score Yet Watermelon Man Director 1970
No Score Yet The Story of a Three-Day Pass Director 1968

TV

CREDIT
91% Homicide: Life on the Street
1993-1999
Bennett Jackson
  • 1997
No Score Yet The Outer Limits
1995-2002
Director
  • 1997
42% The Shining
1997
  • 1997
No Score Yet Living Single
1993-1998
  • 1996
No Score Yet American Masters
2001
Voice

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