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100th birthday celebration for veteran black Bermudian actor

LONGEVITY: Earl Cameron (image credit: University of Warwick)

VETERAN ACTOR Earl Cameron has come a very long way since his first job washing dishes in a hotel after leaving Bermuda for the UK in 1940.

After a ground-breaking and successful career as an actor, Cameron is about to celebrate his 100th birthday, but says he is still very much available for work.

The thespian, who celebrates his birthday tomorrow (August 8), has appeared in films ranging from the Bond movie Thunderball in 1965 to Inception alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in 2010, broke barriers by becoming the first black actor to have a leading role in a British movie when he starred in Pool of London in 1951.

He plans to celebrate the event with a party at the home in Kenilworth, Warwickshire, he shares with his wife, Barbara.

Cameron prepared for his big day by helping to unveil a blue plaque commemorating African-American actor and anti-poverty pioneer Ira Aldridge, who was the manager of the Coventry Theatre in 1828. Cameron was given voice training by Aldridge's daughter Amanda.

The veteran actor, who also appeared in a series of iconic British television shows from Doctor Who and The Prisoner to Waking the Dead and Dalziel and Pascoe, said:

HISTORY IN THE MAKING: Earl Cameron (centre), helps to unveil a plaque dedicated to Ira Aldridge as his wife Barbara Cameron, right, looks on (image credit: University of Warwick)

“It has been a great life and I have absolutely enjoyed my career.

“I broke a certain amount of ground when, as a young black actor, I appeared in Pool of London in 1951. It was unheard of before then, but I was very fortunate even though I had spent about eight years on the stage before then. It was certainly a far cry from when I first came to England during the war and got my first job as a dishwasher in a hotel in 1940.”

The soon-to-be centenarian, who last year became the first actor to be inducted into the UK’s Black Film and Television Hall of Fame, remains remarkably bright and eloquent when talking about his past career as he approaches his 100th birthday.

“I never expected it, no-one probably expects it. I don’t know what I have done to achieve it, however it’s great; it’s wonderful to be reaching a hundred. I am so happy. I do think that cod liver oil has got a lot to do with it. I have been taking cod liver oil for the last 20 years for my arthritis, which I suffer very badly with. My arthritis had taken over and I was in a wheelchair, but once the cod liver oil kicked in I was able to walk quite normally.”

Cameron, who last appeared in a short film Up on the Roof in 2013, still has an agent and remains available for work. He seems justifiably proud of the opportunities now available for black actors compared to when he started out some 70 years ago.

“There are some excellent black actors in films now, although most of them have to go to Hollywood to be successful. I feel there is still some work to do in this country in terms of more leading roles for black actors. But things have certainly moved on a great deal.”

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