Tony and Emmy award winning theatre, film and television actor Roscoe Lee Browne was born on May 2, 1925 in Woodbury, New Jersey. He attended Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont, where he studied French and comparative literature. After graduating from Columbia University in Pennsylvania, Browne became a professor and taught both subjects at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. Simultaneously, Browne found success as an athlete, winning two American indoor championships and setting a record when he won the 1951 world championship in the 800-yard dash. After an injury hampered his athletic career, Browne worked briefly as a sales representative for Shenley Imports.
He began his acting career with a small role in a 1956 New York Shakespeare Festival production of Julius Caesar. Soon thereafter, Browne became an understudy for Ossie Davis’ performance in Purlie Victorious. Although Browne played the character of Archibald in The Blacks, a play that launched numerous other African American stars, Browne’s career did not take off until his 1963 performance in the off-Broadway play Benito Cereno. He would reprise this role again in both 1965 and 1976. In 1966, Browne performed his own poetry while directing An Evening of Negro Poetry and Folk Music. Browne continued to work actively in theater throughout much of his career, performing August Wilson’s Joe Turner's Come and Gone in 1989 and giving a Tony Award-winning performance in the August Wilson play Two Trains Running in 1992.
Browne has also worked in a variety of films, whether as a character actor (in Superfly and Uptown Saturday Night) or as a voiceover performer (as the narrator of Babe and Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties). His television career has been prolific and diverse. He received an Emmy award for his recurring role as Dr. Foster on The Cosby Show, a nomination for Barney Miller, and achieved critical acclaim for his work on All in the Family and Soap. His list of television credits include performances in Law and Order, E.R., Will and Grace and New York Undercover. He has also done voiceover work for numerous cartoons, including animated versions of Batman and Spiderman. In addition to his work as a performer, Roscoe Lee Browne wrote short stories, plays, worked as a musical director and was a gifted poet.
Browne passed away on April 11, 2007 at the age of 81.