Remembering Ivan Dixon

Ivandixon_lIvan Dixon, who died Sunday at 76, deserves to be remembered for more than just his role as Sgt. Kinchloe on Hogan’s Heroes, though he credited that role with opening a lot of doors for him in television. He in turn opened doors for African-Americans in TV as a director. In the ’70s and ’80s, when it was still very rare to see blacks behind the camera in movies, Dixon was quietly racking up dozens of directing credits on episodic TV, including such series as The Waltons, The Rockford Files, The Greatest American Hero, and Magnum, P.I.

Dixon also had a memorable film career, though his movies have fallen into undeserved obscurity. Two of them are ripe for rescue: Trouble Man (1972), a Shaft-like blaxploitation drama that Dixon directed, with exciting action and a terrific Marvin Gaye soundtrack; and Nothing But a Man (1964), a Civil Rights-era drama of a man and his wife (Dixon and jazz icon Abbey Lincoln) struggling for dignity in Jim Crow Alabama. Dixon fans regard Nothing as his finest performance — and as the supreme example of what he could do when he wasn’t trapped in that prison camp.

addCredit(“Cameron Diaz: Kevin Winter/Getty Images”)

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  • DanOregon

    For such a satirical show, Hogan’s Heroes had such an interesting backstory with regard to the cast. LeBeau, Dixon, Bob Crane, Richard Dawson et. al. Clearly, Hogan’s Heroes was not why he was put on this earth, but I’m glad we were able to witness his talent.

  • tmac

    I worked for Ivan in the late 1990s at radio station KONI on Maui. My heart goes out to Berlie and the rest of the family.

  • Jakeem

    I absolutely love the episode of “The Twilight Zone” in which Dixon played a boxer adored by a boy who believed in magic. Unfortunately, the boxer didn’t believe.

  • Robert M. Young

    I worked with Ivan on ‘Nothing But A Man’ and found him to be a remarkable actor and a wonderful, deep human. He was honest and humble and a loving person. He will be sorely missed.

  • Glen Hetherington

    Thank you Ivan for your contributions and I enjoyed your style and humor.

  • Laketra Hardin

    My mother went to North Carolina Central University in Durham with Mr. Dixon; but that is not why I was a fan. I admired his acting and especially how he became a well established director at a time when that was not an easy career transition for any actor, least of all an African-American actor. We are grateful that he shared his talents and we will miss him.

  • Steven Vause

    Ivan Dixon was one of best; an inspiration. I will be forever in awe of the humanity, pureness and genius that he brought to his role in “Nothing But A Man”, one of my all-time favorite performances on film.

  • Bobby

    Although i never had the opportunity to meet Mr. Dixon i have admired him for all of his roles. Rest in Peace.

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