Actor Bill Nunn, best known for his portrayal of Radio Raheem in Spike Lee’s classic “Do the Right Thing,” has died. He was 62.
He died Saturday at his home in Pittsburgh, his wife, Donna, told The Associated Press. He had been battling cancer.
Lee honored the 6’3” actor on his Facebook page, calling Nunn “My dear friend, my dear Morehouse brother.”
The Pittsburgh native (his dad was a journalist and scout for the Steelers) taught acting after his graduation from Morehouse College in 1976.
Nunn’s first movie credit was in Lee’s 1988 “School Daze,” which was followed one year later by “Do the Right Thing,” and his most iconic role: Radio Raheem, a boombox-toting Bed-Stuy resident who brandishes the words “Love” and “Hate” on his fists. His death at the hands of the police sparks a riot.
Nunn worked with Lee again in the films “Mo’ Better Blues” and “He Got Game.”
He was also featured as newspaper editor Joseph “Robbie” Robertson in Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” films, and starred in the TV series “Traps” with George C. Scott, “Local Heroes,” “The Job,” and “Sirens.”
Among his many other credits: “New Jack City,” “Cadillac Man,” “Regarding Henry,” “Sister Act,” “The Last Seduction,” “Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead,” “Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh,” “Extreme Measures,” “Kiss the Girls,” “The Legend of 1900,” and the 2008 TV movie “A Raisin in the Sun.”
In 2008 he founded the Bill Nunn Theatre Outreach Project, promoting theatre arts to Pittsburgh-area public school students, and offering scholarships. It presents Pittsburgh’s August Wilson Monologue Competition for high school students.
“Long live Bill Nunn,” Lee wrote. “Radio Raheem is now resting in power. Radio Raheem will always be fighting da powers dat be.”