James Monroe Iglehart and also Ted Ross(Photo by Emilio Madrid for keolistravelservices.com; graphic by Ryan Casey because that keolistravelservices.com)
In respect of Black background Month, keolistravelservices.com request actors, director andplaywrights to tell us around black theater-makers who inspired them. Starsjumped in ~ the opportunity to respect those who came before them, and in the process, taught us about the an essential contributions of black artists to the American theater. To check out the various other entries in this series,click here.

You are watching: Who played the lion in the wizard of oz 1978

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James Monroe Iglehart as thomas Jefferson in "Hamilton." (Photo: Joan Marcus)

James Monroe Iglehart won a Tony in 2014 because that originating the role of Genie in Aladdin on keolistravelservices.com. He also originated the role of Bobby in Memphis (2009) and is right now playing Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson in Hamilton. As soon as asked whatblack theatre artist inspired him, Iglehart stated Ted Ross, the Tony-winning actor that originated the role of the Lion ~ above keolistravelservices.com in The Wiz.

Ross, who was born in Ohio in 1934, make his keolistravelservices.com debut in Oscar Brown Jr’s Buck White (1969). He appeared in Purlie (1970, 1972), Raisin (1973) and, in 1975, joined the original cast of The Wiz on keolistravelservices.com. He won a Tony for that duty and reprised his Lion in the 1978 film variation starring Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Richard Pryor and also Nipsey Russell. Top top television, he’s remembered for showing up in sitcoms like Benson, The Jeffersons, What’s continue Now, The Cosby Show and A different World. He died in Dayton, Ohio, where he grew up, in 2002 in ~ the age of 68.

"Even now, whenever I get fearful or whenever i feel down, ns still hear to, 'Be a Lion.'"
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Ted Ross as the Lion in the original keolistravelservices.com manufacturing of "The Wiz." (Photo: Martha Swope/NYPL)

Iglehart on Ross: "When i was little, ns watched this movie dubbed The Wiz. There was Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Richard Pryor, but the male who changed everything for me to be Ted Ross. I loved him. I wouldeven recreate The Wiz in ~ my elementary school school.Most children were play basketball or football, and also I had conned my friends right into playingThe Wiz. Ialways play the Lion due to the fact that I wanted to be favor Ted.My mom even made a lion costume because that me, and also I sang, 'I'm a typical Old Lion' at my church talent show.He was one of the an initial people I experienced that make me say, 'Oh, wow. Ns really want to do something prefer that.'"

"I never acquired to fulfill him; the passed away prior to I obtained to keolistravelservices.com. However I obtained to beat the Lion in 2009 at the brand-new York City Center. It was a dream come true. Every night i was basically a kid. They'd placed the lion makeup on me, and I to be living this dream I when had. The felt right. AndréDe Shields come backstage and also said, 'You, sir, repeat me that Ted,' and also I virtually lost my mind."

"There was a swagger the Ted had actually to him. Ted wasn't a tiny guy, and for him to be floating on phase effortlessly allow me understand that I can do this, the there's room for me to be a large guy and do what ns do.When Ted didThe Wiz, nobody supposed it to work. We talk about multiculturalism today, and also we get so caught up in the lot of color that we check out on keolistravelservices.com. However just imagine:Back in 1974, it to be justThe Wiz.They broke the door down. And also the reality thatThe Wizwas able come turnThe magician of Ozon the head and say, 'Home is in you. House is wherever you go,' as a black kid, that expected everything. Sometimes we need to uproot ourself to go live our dream.

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Periodically as an afri American you feel isolated, and also the emotion that, 'You take home with you'will always have a one-of-a-kind place. Even now, anytime I gain fearful or whenever ns feel down, ns still hear to, 'Be a Lion.'"