Paul Robeson, Jr. Dies at 86.
By Natelege Whaley
Paul Robeson, Jr., activist and author, died on Saturday at the age of 86 in Jersey City, New Jersey. He suffered from lymphoma, according to his daughter.
Robeson was the only child of the famed singer, actor and civil rights movement activist Paul Robeson and his wife, Eslanda Robeson. After his father’s death in 1976, he worked to preserve his father’s legacy by writing books about life and creating an archive of his films and books.
Robeson was born on Nov. 2, 1927 in Brooklyn, New York. He attended Cornell University, where he received a degree in electrical engineering in 1949.
He was very vocal in criticizing the Broadway play Paul Robeson when it debuted in 1978, as he felt it did not portray his father’s full story, particularly his socialist views.
In an attempt to tell what he felt was a fuller story of his father’s life, Robeson published The Undiscovered Paul Robeson, An Artist’s Journey, 1898-1939 in 2001, and followed with The Undiscovered Paul Robeson: Quest for Freedom in 2010.
Robeson told The New York Times in 1993 that although his father was famous, he taught him to be his own person. “So I never remember having any need to compete with him,” Robeson said. “He gave me a sense of being my own man.”
Picture Caption: Paul Robeson, Jr. holds the Lifetime Achievement Award he accepted for his late father, singer and activist Paul Robeson at the 40th Annual Grammy Awards.
Phillip Hayes Dean, Playwright
Phillip Hayes Dean, 83, died on April 14 in Los Angeles of an aortic aneurysm. Dean, a playwright whose best-known work was the 1978 production of “Paul Robeson” on Broadway starring James Earl Jones, and who authored several other plays including “The Sty of the Blind Pig” and “Every Night When the Sun Goes Down.”
Dean, a raconteur with a lively sense of humor, was embroiled in controversy over his play’s portrait of Paul Robeson. In a 1988 interview with The New York Times Dean said, “What I remember most was that I was writing the play about a man I admired and my mother was then dying and I was being attacked by well-known and highly respected black people for something that no one could quite pin down. They seemed to feel that my characterization of Robeson did not conform to their vision of the man. Well, obviously my vision was not the only one, and I never said it was or that it should be.”
Mr. Dean, who lived in Los Angeles, is survived by his wife of 41 years, Patricia O’Toole; a brother, Howard; two daughters, Wendy Hutson and Karen Dean; and four grandchildren.