San Francisco, California, 22 July 1947.
San Francisco State University, degree in economics; studied acting at
Black Actors' Workshop, American Conservatory Theatre, beginning in
Married Asake Bomani, 1975; children: Mandisa.
Actor. Began acting in the late 1960s with San Francisco State
University's Black Students Union; evaluator of social programs,
City of Berkeley, California; researcher, Office of the Mayor, San
Francisco, California, 1971–75; recorded books on tape for children
and adults, including
Long Walk to Freedom
(reading of Nelson Mandela's autobiography), Time Warner Audio
Books, 1996; appeared on TV series
NAACP Image Award, for
, 1988; Independent Spirit Award for Best Actor, for
To Sleep with Anger
, 1990; inducted into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame, 1990; Phoenix
Award, Black American Cinema Society, 1990; honorary D.H.L., Paine
College, 1990; Cable Ace Award, for
, 1996; star on the Walk of Fame, 1996; honorary D.F.A., San Francisco
State University, 1997; appointed Goodwill Ambassador, United Nations
Development Program, 1998; NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in
a Motion Picture, for
Carrie Productions, 4444 West Riverside Dr., Burbank, CA 91505.
William Morris Agency, 151 El Camino, Beverly Hills, CA 90212.
Escape from Alcatraz (Siegel) (as Inmate)
Chu Chu and the Philly Flash (Rich) (as Morgan); Oscar Micheaux, Film Pioneer (as Oscar Micheaux)
Out ( Deadly Drifter ) (Hollander)
Memorial Day (Sargent—for TV) (as Willie Monroe); "Chiefs" (London—mini, for TV) (as Marshall Peters); The Face of Rage (Wrye—for TV) (as Gary)
Iceman (Schepisi) (as Loomis); Places in the Heart (Benton) (as Moze)
And the Children Shall Lead (Pressman—for TV); Silverado (Kasdan) (as Mal); The Color Purple (Spielberg) (as Albert); Witness (Weir) (as McFee)
Mandela (Saville—for TV) (as Nelson Mandela); Lethal Weapon (Donner) (as Roger Murtaugh)
Bat*21 (Markle) (as Captain Bartholomew Clark)
Lethal Weapon 2 (Donner) (as Roger Murtaugh); Dead Man Out ( Dead Man Walking ) (Pearce—for TV) (as Alex); Lonesome Dove (Wincer—mini, for TV) (as Joshua Deets); A Raisin in the Sun (Duke—for TV) (as Walter Lee)
Flight of the Intruder (Milius) (as CDR Frank "Dooke" Camparelli); To Sleep with Anger (Burnett) (as Harry Mention) (+ exec pr); Predator 2 (Hopkins) (as Lt. Mike Harrigan)
Grand Canyon (Kasdan) (as Simon); Pure Luck (Tass) (as Raymond Campanella); A Rage in Harlem (Duke) (as Easy Money)
The Talking Eggs (Sporn) (as Narrator); Lethal Weapon 3 (Donner) (as Roger Murtaugh)
Bopha! (Freeman) (as Micah Mangena); The Saint of Fort Washington (Hunter) (as Jerry); Queen (Erman—mini, for TV) (as Alec Haley)
Maverick (Donner) (as Bank Robber [uncredited]); Angels in the Outfield (Dear) (as George Knox)
Operation Dumbo Drop (Wincer) (as Capt. Sam Cahill)
America's Dream (Barclay, Duke, Sullivan) (as Silas) (+ exec pr)
Can't You Hear the Wind Howl? The Life & Music of Robert Johnson (doc) (Meyer) (as Narrator); Buffalo Soldiers (Haid—for TV) (as Sergeant Wyatt) (+ exec pr); The Rainmaker (Coppola) (as Judge Tyrone Kipler [uncredited]); Switchback (Stuart) (as Bob Goodall); Wild America (Dear) (as Mountain Man [uncredited]); Gone Fishin' (Cain) (as Gus Green)
The Prince of Egypt (Chapman, Hickner, Wells) (as voice of Jethro); Beloved (Demme) (as Paul D); Antz (Darnell, Johnson, Guterman) (as voice of Barbatus); Lethal Weapon 4 (Donner) (as Roger Murtaugh)
The Monster (as Henry Johnson); Our Friend, Martin (Smiley, Trippetti) (as voice of Train Conductor); Wings Against the Wind (Palcy); Scared Straight! 20 Years Later (Shapiro—for TV) (as voice of Narrator)
Freedom Song (Robinson—for TV) (as Will Walker) (+ exec pr); Boesman and Lena (John Berry) (as Boesman)
Override (for TV) (d)
Deadly Voyage (Mackenzie—for TV) (exec pr)
McGregor, A., "Red Hot Glover," interview in Time Out (London), no. 1101, 25 September 1991.
"20 Questions: Danny Glover," in Playboy (Chicago), September 1991.
Ebony (Chicago), March 1986.
GQ (New York), July 1989.
"Danny Glover," in People (New York), 10 February 1992.
Premiere (Boulder), 10 February 1992.
Powell, Kevin, "Danny Glover: What a Man!" in Essence (New York), July 1994.
* * *
During the last two decades, American filmgoers have found great amusement in movies that, for humorous effect, contrast conventional
The Lethal Weapon films offer similar enjoyments provided by the narrative excuse of a meaningless thriller plot, but with a twist. Here it is the white guy, self-destructive, impulsive Mel Gibson, who plays off the unruffled and very professional aplomb of his detective partner, a restrained Danny Glover who is constantly amazed by the zany antics of the unpredictable Gibson. It isn't just that Glover easily incarnates the conventional values of the black middle class—a strong desire for success, unwavering commitment to family, and a deeply felt respect for the ethical code of his profession. Glover also exudes a gentleness that makes him the perfect victim of such shenanigans. He never gets angry, only exasperated.
It is this gentleness that allows Glover to do well with roles that might seem more suited to Gene Wilder's brand of whimsical, unthreatening masculinity. In Angels in the Outfield , Glover plays an apparently hard-bitten baseball manager frustrated with his team's incompetent athletes; an unsuspected heavenly intervention, revealed at first to the children who are these losers' biggest fans, soon makes him a believer in undeserved benevolence, for which he becomes a passionate spokesman. Operation Dumbo Drop (a Walt Disney Vietnam film) succeeds because Glover's warmhearted officer, who is concerned for the Montagnard villagers who have lost their elephant, is able to convert career-officer Ray Liotta into an animal lover willing to jump out of an airplane to save an errant pachyderm. In The Saint of Fort Washington , he is a lovable derelict (shades of Wilder's Quakser Fortune has a Cousin Living in the Bronx ) who does an affecting and melodramatic turn with, of all people, Matt Dillon.
As a supporting actor, Glover regularly turns in a competent performance: as an almost sympathetic murdering cop in Witness ; as a bank robber in Maverick ; as a southern judge in The Rainmaker ; as a kind-hearted family man who rescues Kevin Kline in Grand Canyon ; as the complex Mr. B, wife-beater and love slave, in The Color Purple ; as a cowboy in Lonesome Dove ; and so on. He has proven somewhat inept at both comedy ( Gone Fishin' ) and darker featured roles (playing a serial killer he is chillingly friendly but not scarily charismatic in Switchback ).
He has been most impressive, however, in roles that enable him to make a statement about race. Dispossessed and rejected, he refuses to surrender to bitterness and comes to life as a cotton farmer in order to save the farm for Sally Field in Places in the Heart. His dedicated police officer in Bopha must abandon his unthinking cooperation with the system that oppresses his own people. In the Chester Himes adaptation, A Rage in Harlem , he is effective as a city slicker, the hustler Easy Money, providing depth and dramatic contrast in a well-directed ensemble cast. The surprisingly unpopular Beloved finds him as an ex-slave victimized by a white man, a dramatic foil to Oprah Winfrey's Sethe. He is excellent as Walter Lee in a TV production of A Raisin in the Sun , though less intense and more vulnerable than Sidney Poitier's defining interpretation of the character.
Though he has worked steadily and with competence throughout his long career, Danny Glover, however, has not yet found roles that could showcase his not inconsiderable acting talent. It is ironic, and revealing of the racial dynamics of the New Hollywood, that he has had his greatest popular success playing the straight man to Mel Gibson's berserker.
—R. Barton Palmer