Hollywood mourns loss of groundbreaking director and actor, Melvin Van Peebles
A filmmaker and actor known for actively promoting cinema that featured Black entertainers passed away at the age of 89.
According to Variety, the entertainment community is mourning the loss of Melvin Van Peebles, the groundbreaking filmmaker and father of director and actor Mario Van Peebles.
“Dad knew that Black images matter,” Mario Van Peebles said in a statement from the Criterion Collection. “If a picture is worth a thousand words, what was a movie worth? We want to be the success we see, thus we need to see ourselves being free. True liberation did not mean imitating the colonizer’s mentality. It meant appreciating the power, beauty and interconnectivity of all people.”
Director Barry Jenkins, had similar words of praise, regarding Van Peebles, writing, “He made the most of every second, of EVERY single damn frame and admittedly, while the last time I spent any time with him was MANY years ago, it was a night in which he absolutely danced his face off. The man just absolutely LIVED.”
Melvin and Mario Van Peebles worked together on the 1989 film 'Identity Crisis,' in the 1993 Mario Van Peebles-directed 'Posse,' in which Mario also starred, in Mario’s 1995 Black Panther drama “Panther” and in the 1998 film, 'Love Kills' as well as the 2010 movie, 'Redemption Road.'
Melvin Van Peebles also acted alongside Eddie Murphy in 'Boomerang' and Arnold Schwarzenegger in 'Last Action Hero; among a host of other films.
As a multitalented entertainer, Melvin Van Peebles also had four shows on Broadway, including the Tony-nominated, 'Ain’t Suppose to Die a Natural Death.'
Variety says Van Peebles was married once, to the German-born actress and photographer Maria Marx, in the 1950s, but the marriage ended in divorce after several years.
He is survived by sons Mario and Max Van Peebles, daughter Marguerite, and grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his daughter Megan.