Earle Hyman is a distinguished actor who appeared in numerous stage, screen and television productions. Best known for his long-running television roles, he was seen in 130 episodes of ThunderCats as the voice of Panthro (1985-1989). At the same time (1984-1992), Hyman played Russell Huxtable in 40 episodes of The Cosby Show, appearing as Bill Cosby’s father. The role earned Hyman an Emmy nomination.
Theater was Earle Hyman’s first love. At the age of 13, he attended his first live theatrical production Henrik Ibsen’s Ghosts, which he said ‘freaked him out.’ This experience led to a fascination with acting and a passion for Ibsen’s work that drove him to learn Norwegian fluently. As a teenager in the early 40s, Hyman debuted on Broadway in Run, Little Chillun. The following year, he appeared in Philip Yordan's hit Anna Lucasta that ran for almost a thousand performances. Through the decades, Hyman continued to appear on Broadway, on London’s West End and in Norwegian theater. In 1980 he won a Tony nomination for Best Featured Actor in Edward Albee’s The Lady from Dubuque. A life member of the Actor’s Studio, Earle Hyman was also a member of the American Negro Theater and the American Shakespeare Theater.
Mr. Hyman’s film career began in 1945 with a bit part in the Oscar-winning The Lost Weekend. He went on to appear in several popular movies, notably No Time for Sergeants that made Andy Griffith a star. Hyman enjoyed a successful career in both film and theater, but television was most welcoming to his talents. He appeared on Hallmark Hall of Fame and United States Steel Hour television specials, and in television plays of Shakespearean works, in addition to his many comedy and action adventure roles.
For Riverwalk Jazz, Earle Hyman played Harlem stride pianist Willie ‘The Lion’ Smith in Harlem Big Three: The Music of Fats, James P. and Willie ’The Lion’ Smith with a script based on Mr. Smith’s autobiography Music on My Mind.