Ivan Dixon (right) with Diana Sands In this March 1967 photo, actor Ivan Dixon and actress Diana Sandsare seen in an episode of the ABC-TV show 'The Fugitive.' Dixon, who brought the problems and promise of contemporary blacks to life in thefilm 'Nothing But a Man' and portrayed the levelheaded POW Kinchloein TV's 'Hogan's Heroes,' has died. He was 76. Dixon died Sunday, March 16, 2008, at Presbyterian Hospital in Charlotte, N.C.,after a hemorrhage, said his daughter, Doris Nomathande Dixonof Charlotte. He had suffered complications from kidney failure, she said.
Ivan Dixon (1931-2008) was an absolute GENIUS and one of my all-time favorite actors. What a great and enduring artist this man was! One of the authentic giants in fact. "Nothing But A Man' (1964) is one of the finest films featuring African Americans in the history of cinema and Dixon's pathbreaking role as the Nigerian student who romances the late, great Diana Sands in "A Raisin in the Sun" was equally brilliant and yet another outstanding example of the creative ability that Dixon had to steal any scene he was in as his longtime friend and colleague Sidney Poitier so aptly pointed out. ORIGINALITY and EXCELLENCE were this man's benchmarks in everything he ever did as both actor and director.
REST IN PEACE brother. You left a very important and powerful legacy for all of us
Ivan Dixon, Actor Dies at 76
The New York Times
Published: March 20, 2008
Ivan Dixon, an actor and director who was best known for playing Sgt. James Kinchloe on the 1960s sitcom “Hogan’s Heroes” but whose films included vivid portrayals of black struggles in the American South and insurrectionist inclinations in the North, died on Sunday in Charlotte, N.C. He was 76 and lived in Charlotte.
The cause was complications of kidney disease, said his daughter, Doris Nomathande Dixon.
Ms. Dixon said her father was always pleased to be recognized as Sergeant Kinchloe, the American radio technician in a World War II German P.O.W. camp who could adeptly mimic his captors. But he was most proud, she said, of the 1964 movie “Nothing but a Man,” in which he starred, and of the 1973 film “The Spook Who Sat by the Door,” which he directed.
In “Nothing but a Man” Mr. Dixon played a young black railroad worker who gives up his job to marry a minister’s daughter, played by Abbey Lincoln, and then runs into trouble for not knowing his place in the Deep South. In a 1991 article on the history of black films, Vincent Canby wrote in The New York Times that “Nothing but a Man” was “way ahead of its time.”
“Ivan Dixon and Abbey Lincoln give tough, moving performances as a couple making their way in a white world without apologies to anyone,” he wrote. “No thoughts of integration for them. They demand their own lives and are willing to fight for them.”
“The Spook Who Sat by the Door,” based on the novel by Sam Greenlee, tells the tale of Dan Freeman, the first black officer in the Central Intelligence Agency. After five years of menial assignments, Freeman quits, takes what he has learned about terrorist tactics and goes to Chicago, where he tries to put together a black guerrilla operation.
Although “The Spook” aroused controversy and was soon pulled from theaters, it later gained cult status as a bootleg video and, in 2004, was released on DVD. At that time Mr. Dixon told The Times that the movie had tried only to depict black anger, not to suggest armed revolt as a solution.
Mr. Dixon directed scores of television shows, including episodes of “The Waltons,” “The Rockford Files,” “Magnum, P.I.,” “Quincy” and “In the Heat of the Night.” In 1967 he played the title role in a CBS Playhouse drama, “The Final War of Olly Winter,” about a veteran of World War II and the Korean War who decides that Vietnam will be his final war. For that role he received an Emmy nomination for best single performance by an actor.
Ivan Nathaniel Dixon 3rd was born on April 6, 1931, in Harlem, where his family owned a grocery store. Besides his daughter, Doris, who lives in Charlotte, Mr. Dixon is survived by his wife of 58 years, the former Berlie Ray; and a son, Alan, of Oakland, Calif.
Mr. Dixon graduated from North Carolina Central University in 1954 with a drama degree. His big break came in 1957 when he appeared on Broadway in William Saroyan’s “Cave Dwellers.” Two years later he played Joseph Asagai, the charming, mannerly Nigerian student visiting the United States in Lorraine Hansberry’s “Raisin in the Sun,” the first play written by a black woman to be produced on Broadway.
IVAN DIXON (1931-2008)
Dixon died Sunday at Presbyterian Hospital in Charlotte after a hemorrhage, said his daughter, Doris Nomathande Dixon of Charlotte. He had suffered complications from kidney failure, she said.
Dixon, who also directed scores of television shows, began his acting career in the late 1950s. He appeared on Broadway in William Saroyan's 1957 "The Cave Dwellers" and in playwright Lorraine Hansberry's groundbreaking 1959 drama of black life, "A Raisin in the Sun." In the latter, he played a Nigerian student visiting the United States, a role he repeated in the film version.
While not a hit, the 1964 "Nothing But a Man," in which Dixon co-starred with Abbey Lincoln, also drew praise as a rare, early effort to bring the lives of black Americans to the big screen.
Other film credits included "Something of Value," "A Patch of Blue" and the cult favorite "Car Wash."
"As an actor, you had to be careful," said Sidney Poitier, star of "Patch of Blue" and a longtime friend. "He was quite likely to walk off with the scene."
In 1967, Dixon starred in a CBS Playhouse drama, "The Final War of Olly Winter," about a veteran of World War II and Korea who decided that Vietnam would be his final war. The role brought Dixon an Emmy nomination for best single performance by an actor.
He was probably best known for the role of Staff Sgt. James Kinchloe on "Hogan's Heroes," the hit 1960s sitcom set in a German prisoner-of-war camp during World War II.
The technically adept Kinchloe was in charge of electronic communications and could mimic German officers on the radio or phone.
Dixon was active in efforts to get better parts for blacks in movies and television, telling The New York Times in 1967: "Sponsors haven't wanted anything negative connected with their products. We must convince them that the Negro is not negative."
"Heretofore, people have thought that, to use a Negro, the story must pit black against white. Maybe we're getting to the problems of human beings who happen to be black."
While Dixon was most proud of roles such as those in "A Raisin in the Sun" and "Nothing But a Man," he had no problem about being recognized for Kinchloe, his daughter said.
"It was a pivotal role as well, because there were not as many blacks in TV series at that time," Nomathande Dixon said. "He did have some personal issues with that role, but it also launched him into directing."
Dixon also directed numerous episodes of TV shows, including "The Waltons," "The Rockford Files," "Magnum, P.I." and "In the Heat of the Night."
In 1973, he directed the film "The Spook Who Sat by the Door," a political drama based on a novel about a black CIA agent who becomes a revolutionary. He also directed the 1972 "blaxploitation" story "Trouble Man."
His honors included four NAACP Image Awards, the National Black Theatre Award and the Paul Robeson Pioneer Award from the Black American Cinema Society.
Born in 1931 in New York, Dixon graduated in 1954 from North Carolina Central University in Durham.
In addition to his daughter, survivors include his wife of 53 years, Berlie Dixon of Charlotte, and a son, Alan Kimara Dixon of Oakland. At Dixon's request, no memorial or funeral is planned, the family said.