By Hillel Italie, AP
NEW YORK–William Greaves, the Emmy-award winning co-host and executive producer of a groundbreaking television news program and a prolific filmmaker whose subjects ranged from Muhammad Ali to the Harlem Renaissance to the black middle class, has died at age 87.
Greaves died Monday at his Manhattan home after a prolonged illness, according to his granddaughter, Liani Greaves.
A minister’s son born in New York City, Greaves had a diverse background that included drawing, acting, dance and engineering. He leaves behind a vast film archive of black art and culture.
Greaves made hundreds of movies, and in the 1960s, he served as co-host and executive producer of “Black Journal,” among the first TV news programs designed for a black audience. “Black Journal” won an Emmy in 1970 for excellence in public affairs.
He studied engineering at City College of New York, but dropped out to pursue a career in the performing arts. He joined the American Negro Theatre, where fellow members included Harry Belafonte and Sidney Poitier, and was briefly part of The Actors Studio, with Marlon Brando among his peers.
Greaves appeared in “Lost in the Stars,” “Lost Boundaries” and other movies, but he became frustrated with the roles offered black performers, especially after being asked to play a porter in a Broadway revival of “Twentieth Century.” He moved to Canada and immersed himself in documentary-making as part of the National Film Board of Canada.