Seneca during filming of 1986's Crossroads
Joel McGhee Jr.
January 14, 1919
|Died||August 15, 1996 (aged 77)|
|Occupation||Actor, singer, songwriter|
Life and career
Seneca was born Joel McGhee, Jr. in Cleveland, Ohio. Prior to his acting career, he belonged to the R&B singing group The Three Riffs, which was active from the late 1940s and performed at upscale supper clubs in New York City. He was also a songwriter and had big hits with "Talk to Me" which was sung by Little Willie John, and "Break It to Me Gently," which was a smash hit twice, once by Brenda Lee in 1962 and once by Juice Newton in 1982.
In the 1982 film, The Verdict, Seneca plays the supporting role of Dr. Thompson, a small-town women's hospital physician brought in by attorney Frank Galvin (Paul Newman) to support his belief that two famous doctors' incompetence left his client alive but in a coma. Seneca's performance, while subdued, brings a gritty realism to the court proceedings and was one of his more important film roles. Arguably his most well-known roles are that of bluesman Willie Brown in Crossroads (1986) and Dr. Meddows in The Blob (1988), the evil head of a government team sent to contain the title creature.
Seneca also made multiple appearances on The Cosby Show as Hillman President Dr. Zachariah J. Hanes. He also played Alvin Newcastle, a man suffering from Alzheimer's disease, on an episode of The Golden Girls entitled "Old Friends". Seneca appeared in Spike Lee's School Daze as Mission College President McPherson.
|1974||The Taking of Pelham One Two Three||Police Sergeant|
|1979||The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh||Mr. Sweets|
|1979||Kramer vs. Kramer||Partygoer #6|
|1982||The Verdict||Dr. Thompson|
|1984||The Evil That Men Do||Santiago|
|1985||Heart of the Garden|
|1987||Moments Without Proper Names|
|1988||School Daze||President McPherson|
|1988||The Blob||Dr. Meddows|
|1990||Mo' Better Blues||Big Stop's Friend|
|1991||Mississippi Masala||Williben Williams|
|1993||The Saint of Fort Washington||Spits|
|1996||A Time to Kill||Reverend Isaiah Street|
- Eagle, Bob; LeBlanc, Eric S. (2013). Blues - A Regional Experience. Santa Barbara: Praeger Publishers. p. 255. ISBN 978-0313344237.
- "The Three Riffs ", Vocal Group Harmony. Retrieved 25 October 2016
- The Golden Girls Season 3 episode 52; air date September 19, 1987
- Crocker, Catherine (August 17, 1996). "Obituaries | Joe Seneca, Singer, Composer, Actor". The Seattle Times. Associated Press.
- Joe Seneca on IMDb
- New York Times: Joe Seneca, a Character Actor In 'Ma Rainey's Black Bottom'
- Joe Seneca at Find a Grave
- Joe Seneca discography at Discogs
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