I welcome this opportunity to honor the life of a great friend and filmmaker.
It was a profound experience for me to have had the privilege to work under the direction of such a remarkable talent. It allowed me the great opportunity to work with Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, Tony Curtis and many, many others.
It was a fabulous experience that galvanized, for me, a career I had never dreamed possible. "The Defiant Ones," "Pressure Point," and "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" were films that pushed the limits of the status quo and changed the game of the film industry – not to mention the world – considerably.
Stanley Kramer was quite a remarkable human being. He was an unusual person in so many ways, especially in regard to the motion picture industry. In the many years I knew him. I will never forget the extraordinary gifts that personified the essence of Stanley Kramer – film director, film producer, visionary, family man, friend – all of which added up to his life having become a remarkable example of what the American film industry has made of itself – a competitor worldwide.
These were experiences that had a profound impact on me as a young actor in a film industry that was not inclined – in those days – to hire or embrace young African-American actors.
It took a certain kind of person to have had the insight and courage to bring to the forefront social issues that were difficult to address, and commonly ignored, by the general public. Many of Stanley’s films did just that and although he was not the only one he was one of the first among a considerable body of extraordinary filmmakers much like himself –like Joe Mankiewicz – like George Stevens – like James Clayell – all of whom were of the Stanley Kramer texture.
I was fortunate enough to have been chosen by each of them and I stand here in true appreciation of the Stanley Kramer I knew. His craftsmanship continues to raise the bar higher and higher yet – to levels that will forever enrich the future and art of filmmaking and filmmakers worldwide.