Douglas Turner Ward

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Douglas Turner Ward

Douglas Turner Ward

Photo credit: 
AP

Douglas Turner Ward

Date of Birth

Date of Birth: May 05, 1930
Date of Passing: February 20, 2021
Birthplace: Burnside, Louisiana
Obituary: Hollywood Reporter

Douglas Turner Ward was an American actor, producer, director, and playwright.

Ward is best known as the co-founder of the influential off-Broadway Black theater group, the Negro Ensemble Company.

Douglas Turner Ward was an American actor, producer, director, and playwright.

Ward is best known as the co-founder of the influential off-Broadway Black theater group, the Negro Ensemble Company.

Ward had established a solid New York stage acting career in the 1950s and '60s, including off-Broadway roles in The Iceman Cometh and on Broadway in A Raisin in the Sun. In 1966 he wrote an editorial for The New York Times titled "American Theater: For Whites Only?" The article called for the establishment of a Black repertory theater company. A year later the Ford Foundation awarded a $434,000 grant to create the Negro Ensemble Company with Ward as its artistic director.

The Negro Ensemble Company produced some of the most important works of Black theater, including the 1972 staging of The River Niger. The play, written by Joseph A. Walker, later opened on Broadway and won the 1974 Tony Award for best play, with Ward as director and performer. A 1976 film adaptation of the play starred James Earl Jones, Cicely Tyson, and Lou Gossett, Jr.

In 1981, the Negro Ensemble Company staged what would be its most widely known work: Charles Fuller's Pulitzer Prize-winning A Soldier's Play, directed by Ward and with a cast including Denzel Washington and Samuel L. Jackson. The play was later adapted for film as A Soldier's Story, and in 2020 A Soldier's Play was revived on Broadway with a cast fronted by Blair Underwood and David Alan Grier.

As a television actor, Ward was seen in East Side/West Side, American Playhouse, The Cosby Show, The Women of Brewster Place, Law & Order, and Cosby.

He was inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame in 1996.

Ward died February 20, 2021, in New York City, New York. He was 90.

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