Friday, August 10, 2012

Al Freeman Jr. Dead at 78

Al Freeman Jr. (born Albert Cornelius Freeman Jr., on March 21, 1934, in San Antonio, Texas), passed away on Thursday at the age of 78, Howard University said on Friday.

"It is with tremendous sadness that the passing of our beloved Professor Al Freeman, Jr. is confirmed," Kim James Bey, chair of the university's theater department said in a statement. Freeman was a faculty member at the university.

Freeman is best known to soap opera fans from his long-running role as Captain Ed Hall in ONE LIFE TO LIVE, opposite Ellen Holly's Carla. Pianist Hazel Scott performed at Ed and Carla's 1973 wedding ceremony, delayed several times by the Watergate hearings. Freeman also played Assistant District Attorney Ben Lee in THE EDGE OF NIGHT.

Freeman was best known as an actor of theater, television and film but also was a writer and director.

His TV credits included LAW & ORDER, HOMICIDE, MAUDE and THE COSBY SHOW.

Freeman's film roles included parts in Down in the Delta, Malcolm X and Seven Hours to Judgment.

Freeman was nominated for four Daytime Emmy Awards for his work in ONE LIFE TO LIVE winning once in 1979 as Outstanding Actor in a Daytime Drama Series. He was also nominated for two Primetime Emmys including his role in Roots: The Next Generations. Freeman won an Image Award in 1995 for Malcolm X.

His Broadway theatre credits include "Blues for Mister Charlie" (1964), "Look to the Lilies" (1970) and "Medea" (1974).

Up until his death, Freeman was a professor at Howard University, in the Department of Theatre Arts, teaching acting. He served as Chairman/Artistic Director of the Department for six years.

Watch Freeman perform in a 1984 episode of ONE LIFE TO LIVE below opposite Lillian Hayman and Ellen Holly:

- FLASHBACK: White Market For Black Actors 1979
- FLASHBACK: Catching Up with the Stars of ONE LIFE TO LIVE - In 1979!
- FLASHBACK: ONE LIFE TO LIVE Hits Quarter Center; Still The Soap With A Social Conscience
- WLS Interview Archive: Ellen Holly (January 2012)


  1. Thank you for giving Al his proper tribute. The article should have mentioned that he was the first African-American soap opera actor to win the Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor. That was history-making.

  2. I loved watching Al on OLTL. God Bless Agnes Nixon for creating such a wonderful role and to Al for making Capt. Ed Hall one of the most real characters on any soap. RIP Al.

  3. RIP.

    One of the things that most attracted me to OLTL was the down to earth quality of the black characters, how they were woven into the fabric of the show so naturally. Never felt like they were tacked on, as happened with so many of the black characters in the 70s and 80s.

    Always enjoyed Al, Lillian and Ellen scenes. They had such nice chemistry.

  4. OLTL was my first soap. I remember Al Freeman Jr. He also starred in one of the first movies made for television, My Sweet Charlie with Patty Duke. He was nominated for an Emmy.
    Thanks for the memories.....

  5. Rest In Peace Dear, Wonderful Al!

    Brian :-)