By Kenneth Jones
19 Mar 2008
Ivan Dixon, the Broadway, film and TV actor with credits as diverse as A Raisin in the Sun on Broadway and "Hogan's Heroes" on television, died March 16 of complications from kidney failure in Charlotte, NC. He was 76.
Associated Press reported that friend and colleague Sidney Poitier said in a statement, "As an actor, you had to be careful. He was quite likely to walk off with the scene."
Mr. Dixon was Poitier's stunt double in the 1958 movie "The Defiant Ones." Mr. Dixon later appeared with Poitier in the 1959 Broadway play A Raisin in the Sun as Joseph Asagai, and in the film version.
His other Broadway credit was in The Cave Dwellers in 1957. His film credits included "Something of Value," "A Patch of Blue," "Nothing But a Man" and "Car Wash."
Mr. Dixon was most widely known for playing electronics and communication specialist U.S. Staff Sgt. James Kinchloe on "Hogan's Heroes," the sitcom set in a German World War II prisoner-of-war camp. It put a face on the fact that African-Americans had a role to play in the winning of World War II.
"It was a pivotal role as well, because there were not as many blacks in TV series at that time," his daughter Doris Nomathande Dixon told AP. "He did have some personal issues with that role, but it also launched him into directing."
He directed hundreds of episodes of TV series, including "The Waltons," "The Rockford Files," "Magnum, P.I." and "In the Heat of the Night."
As an actor, Mr. Dixon was an Emmy Award nominee for his performance in the CBS Playhouse special "The Final War of Olly Winter."
Mr. Dixon was born April 6, 1931, in New York City, and graduated from North Carolina Central University in Durham in 1954.
He won four NAACP Image Awards, the National Black Theatre Award and the Paul Robeson Pioneer Award from the Black American Cinema Society. He was a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Directors Guild of America, the Screen Actors Guild of America and the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame.
His survivors also include his wife of 53 years, Berlie Dixon of Charlotte, and a son, Alan Kimara Dixon of Oakland, CA. Two sons, Ivan Nathaniel Dixon IV and N'Gai Christopher Dixon, predeceased him.
Per Mr. Dixon's request, no memorial or funeral is planned.