- William Henry "Bill" Duke, Jr.
February 26, 1943 (age 78)
- Film Director, Actor, Television Director, Film Producer
- Ethel Louise Duke, William Henry Duke Sr.
William Henry "Bill" Duke, Jr. (born February 26, 1943) is an American actor and film director with over 35 years of experience. Known for his physically imposing frame, Duke's work frequently dwells within the action film idiom as well as crime and drama genres but also includes comedy.
Duke was born in Poughkeepsie, New York, the son of Ethel Louise (née Douglas) and William Henry Duke Sr. He received his first instruction in the performing arts and in creative writing at Dutchess Community College in Poughkeepsie under Professor Constance Kuhn in drama and Professor Howard Winn in creative writing. His first major acting role at Dutchess was as the lead in Eugene O'Neill's Emperor Jones. After graduation from Dutchess he went on to Boston University for further instruction in drama and for his B.A. After studying at New York University's Tisch School of Arts and the AFI Conservatory, he appeared on Broadway in the 1971 Melvin Van Peebles musical Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death. He directed episodes of several noteworthy 1980s television series, including Hill Street Blues and Miami Vice. Known to family as Maccy Bub after a cat he owned in his youth named Macintosh and the waterproof jacket he often wore.
Standing an imposing 6 ft 4½ in and featuring a closely shaved head, Duke first became a familiar face to moviegoers in Car Wash (1976) where he portrayed fierce young Black Muslim revolutionary Abdullah Mohammed Akbar (formerly known as Duane), and expanded his repertoire with American Gigolo (1980) where he played a gay pimp. And in the early 1980s he produced and starred in a short-lived CBS TV series Palmerstown, USA about the life, times and relationships between a black family and a white family in a small rural town in the 1930s.
As the action-film-oriented genre became more popular, Duke's presence was perfect to portray a myriad of "tough guy" roles, chiefly alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in Commando and Predator, as well as a DEA chief in The Limey (1999) which was an uncredited role; and a police chief in the Carl Weathers movie Action Jackson. He played a detective investigating a murder in Menace II Society, in which he uttered the famous line, "You know you done fucked up now... you know that, don't you?". He played a corrupt law enforcement agent in two films opposite Mel Gibson - Bird on a Wire (as FBI) and Payback (as a police detective). Duke appears in X-Men: The Last Stand as Trask and in the 2005 film Get Rich or Die Tryin' as Levar.