Earl Cameron, Pioneering Actor, Dies Aged 102

Daniel Welsh

Earl Cameron – who helped break new ground in the acting industry as one of the first Black actors to appear in a main role in a British film – has died at the age of 102.

Bermudian newspaper The Royal Gazette reported that Earl had died on Friday evening. His agent later confirmed to The Guardian that the actor had “passed away peacefully at home surrounded by his wife and family”.

His children said in a statement: “Our family have been overwhelmed by the outpourings of love and respect we have received at the news of our father’s passing.

“As an artist and as an actor he refused to take roles that demeaned or stereotyped the character of people of colour. He was truly a man who stood by his moral principles and was inspirational.”

Earl Cameron outside Buckingham Palace after receiving his CBE (Photo: PA)

Earl was born in Pembroke, Bermuda, and moved to the UK around the time of the Second World War, after joining the British Merchant Navy.

He was inspired to break into acting after watching a West End production of the musical Chu Chin Chow, and ended up getting a bit part in the show, after asking a friend for help.

“He said no,” Earl recalled to the Royal Gazette in 2018. “The show was cast but, strangely enough, three weeks later, he came by late one afternoon and said my big chance had come.” 

In 1951, Earl landed a leading role in the crime noir film Pool Of London, which is often credited as being the first instance of a relationship between two people of different races being portrayed in a British film.

“I never saw myself as a pioneer,” he told The Guardian in 2017, while reflecting on his career. “It was only later, looking back, that it occurred to me that I was.” 

Later in his career, Earl went on to act opposite Sean Connery in the James Bond film Thunderball in the 1960s, as well as appearing in Doctor Who.

Earl on the set of Thunderball with Rick Van Nutter and Sean Connery (Photo: Danjaq/Eon/Ua/Kobal/Shutterstock)

Earl’s more recent film appearances included small roles in The Queen and Inception, the latter of which was his final on-screen credit.

He was awarded a CBE in the 2009 New Year’s Honours List, as well as an honorary doctorate from the University Of Warwick four years later.

This article has been updated to include a statement from Earl Cameron’s children.

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This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.

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