Hollywood was once again rocked this weekend with the passing of Bill Nunn, who gained fame as the iconic “Radio Raheem” in Spike Lee‘s Do the Right Thing in 1989. Nunn passed away on September 24 at the age of 62 in his hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Nunn was born on October 20, 1953 in Pittsburgh. His father was a journalist and scout for the Pittsburgh Steelers, which led to Nunn getting a job as a ball boy for the team.
It was at Morehouse College that he would meet future film director Spike Lee and the two struck up a friendship that would lead to Spike getting Nunn his first major film role, that of frat member Grady in his look at college life, School Daze. However, it would be Nunn that would make a heck of an impact in Lee’s follow-up, Do the Right Thing, as Radio Raheem. The character would always have Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power” on his boombox and meets a fate that would trigger a pivotal event in the film.
Nunn would also appear in the horror film Def by Temptation alongside James Bond III, Samuel L. Jackson. and Kadeem Hardison as Dougy, an undercover agent who is an expert in the paranormal. He would also get roles in Sister Act opposite Whoopi Goldberg; Canadian Bacon with the late John Candy; as well as appear in television series.
In 2002, Nunn appeared as Daily Bugle reporter Robbie Robertson in Sam Raimi‘s Spider-Man trilogy, starring Tobey Maguire as the wall-crawling superhero. His final appearance on screen would be on the television Sirens.
In addition to his work in films and television, Nunn was involved in his love for theater when he founded the Bill Nunn Theatre Outreach Project, which helped underserved public school students in the Pittsburgh region learn theater arts from professionals.
Nunn is survived by his wife Donna, children Cydney and Jessica, and sister Lynell. World Film Geek sends its condolences to the family of Bill Nunn.
As a final tribute to this great and talented actor, here is the famous “Love and Hate” clip with Nunn as Radio Raheem in Do the Right Thing from YouTube’s MovieClips channel:
Rest in Peace, Bill Nunn.