American actor (1933-1976). Cambridge was raised about as multiculturally as you can get -- he was born in New York City to immigrants from British Guiana and was raised in Nova Scotia. He returned to the Big Apple for high school and graduated from Flushing High School in just three years.
Cambridge had lived something of a sheltered life, and he didn't get his first dose of racial prejudice until he made it to college. He received a scholarship to study medicine, but caught the acting bug while attending Hofstra University, where he appeared in a production of "Macbeth." After college, Cambridge had his big theatrical debut in "Take a Giant Step" in 1956. In 1961, he got a career boost when he acted in (and won an Obie for) Jean Genet's "The Blacks." He was also nominated for a Tony Award for his performance in Ossie Davis' "Purlie's Victorious." Cambridge received nationwide attention from frequent appearances on Jack Paar's talk show and started a second career as a comedian, tackling contemporary issues like racism.
Cambridge had his film debut in 1959, when he appeared as a character named Nobody Home in "The Last Angry Man." He played bit parts for several years before picking up more prominent roles as good-natured government assassin Don Masters in "The President's Analyst" (my personal favorite of Godfrey's performances), as Harlem detective Gravedigger Jones in "Cotton Comes to Harlem" and "Come Back, Charleston Blue," as Ford Malotte in "Friday Foster," as Tom Turpin in "Scott Joplin," and as Jeff Gerber, a white racist who becomes a black man overnight in "Watermelon Man."
Cambridge was a compulsive eater, and it's believed that that probably contributed to his early death. He suffered a heart attack on the set of a TV movie called "Victory at Entebbe" (he was playing Ugandan dictator Idi Amin) and died at the age of 43. Amin later claimed that Cambridge's death was a judgment from God.
Research from the Internet Movie Database (www.imdb.com) and the All Movie Guide (www.allmovie.com)