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Lifetime achievement award for black acting pioneer

DOCTOR OF LETTERS: Acting pioneer Earl Cameron with his Honorary Doctorate from Warwick University

BRITAIN'S FIRST black film actor Earl Cameron has been awarded an honorary degree.

Cameron, one of the first black actors to star in a James Bond film and break through the unofficial ‘colour bar’ on screen, was honoured at the University of Warwick last week with the title of Honorary Doctor of Letters in recognition of his lifetime achievements.

Cameron landed his first acting role in 1941 at the Princess Theatre London but throughout his 60-year career, he has worked alongside big names such Sean Connery, playing James Bond’s assistant Pinder in 1965 007 film Thunderball .

He also appeared alongside Helen Mirren in The Queen and Nicole Kidman and Sean Penn in the Interpreter .

Cameron has also had many television roles which include parts in Dr Who and The Prisoner.

Originally from Bermuda, he came to Britain after a stint in the merchant navy and then worked as kitchen porter before getting his break on stage when another actor failed to turn up.

EARLIER TIMES: Earl Cameron in his younger days
However, it was not until 10 years later that he finally got chance to appear on the big screen when he was given a lead role in the movie Pool of London .

The film is about a jewellery heist that goes wrong.

Cameron, who was awarded a CBE by the Queen in 2009, starred alongside stars of the period including Lesley Philips and James Robertson Justice.

He told attendees at the University of Warwick ceremony that he wasn’t aware of the ‘colour bar’ on black actors at the time, the racial discrimination that meant many actors and actresses were ignored for big parts.

But he did have a sense that it was not a level playing field. “After Pool of London , I was conscious of one thing, that had I been white with such a wonderful part and such good [reviews] from the critics, I would have walked into one film after another – but it still took six months before I got the next film."

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