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March 4, 1940|
Helena, Alabama, United States
July 4, 2017 (aged 77)|
Atlanta, Georgia, United States
|Cause of death||Pancreatic cancer|
Born in 1940 in Helena, Alabama, to a Baptist minister who believed acting was "the devil's work", he left home and moved to New York. After several difficult years, he enlisted in the Army, where he played football and ran track. He made All-Army in both sports. He was offered many college scholarships, but chose to attend Texas Southern University.
After Texas Southern, he moved to California to pursue his acting career, and later continued his education at Columbia College in New York City, earning a bachelor of arts in theatre and a master's degree in cinematography. After three years of attending acting classes and acting in community plays and workshops, he landed a role in the 1968 movie Uptight directed by Jules Dassin.
Cumbuka appeared in such television productions as the Roots miniseries, Daniel Boone, Young Dan'l Boone, Knots Landing, The A-Team, The Dukes of Hazzard, Walker, Texas Ranger, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Sanford and Son, and In the Heat of the Night. He was a regular cast member of the short-lived spy series A Man Called Sloane.
Cumbuka also appeared in numerous films. He appeared as former NBA guard Oscar Robertson in the biodrama pic Maurie (1973) about the life of Maurice Stokes. In Harlem Nights (1989), he plays the toothless drunk gambler who gets shot over money. Other films include Change of Habit (1969), Blacula (1972), Trader Horn (1973), Lost in the Stars (1974), Mandingo (1975), Dr. Black, Mr. Hyde (1976), Bound for Glory (1976), The Jericho Mile (1979), Doin' Time (1985), Brewster's Millions (1985), Volunteers (1985), Out of Bounds (1986), Moving (1988) and Caged In Paradiso (1990), as well as appearances in other films.
- "Ji-Tu Cumbuka". TV Guide. http://www.tvguide.com/celebrities/ji-tu-cumbuka/credits/156960/.
- Barnes, Mike (July 9, 2017). "Ji-Tu Cumbuka, Actor in 'Roots' and 'Harlem Nights,' Dies at 77". The Hollywood Reporter. http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/ji-tu-cumbuka-dead-roots-harlem-nights-actor-was-77-1018990.
- Cumbuka, Ji-Tu (2011). A Giant to Remember: The Black Actor in Hollywood. Google Books. https://books.google.com/books?id=UltVDQAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false.
- "A Giant to Remember". http://agianttoremember.com/.
- "Ji-Tu Cumbuka: A Giant to Remember". books.google. https://books.google.ca/books?id=UltVDQAAQBAJ&pg=PT56&lpg=PT56&dq=ji-tu+cumbuka+1940&source=bl&ots=3asile_AlL&sig=BxD8hXZ_nhgD00LPLMhdl3Ck5TE&hl=fr&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiJ7NONuvLUAhVI2IMKHT58AwIQ6AEIYzAM#v=onepage&q=ji-tu%20cumbuka%201940&f=false. Retrieved 5 July 2017.
- Ji-Tu Cumbaka bio, VH1.com; accessed April 8, 2015.
- Ji-Tu Cumbuka at the Internet Movie Database
- Croom, Tene` (July 5, 2017). "We Remember Ji-Tu Cumbuka: Veteran Actor Who Starred In ‘Roots’ Dies At 77". https://www.eurweb.com/2017/07/ji-tu-cumbuka-veteran-actor-starred-roots-dies-77/.
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