David McKnight, J.D.'s Revenge, News, Obituaries, Obituary, Television

David McKnight Dies: Star Of ‘J.D.’s Revenge’ And ‘The Hollywood Shuffle’ Was 87

David McKnight, whose film resume included starring as the lead in the blaxploitation horror movie J.D.’s Revenge, as well as Robert Townsend’s Hollywood Shuffle and The Five Heartbeats, died Sunday at age 87.

McKnight passed from cancer in Las Vegas, according to reports.

The actor was a TV staple in various character roles, appearing on Kojak, Hill Street Blues, The Incredible Hulk, Dynasty and Benson, among other shows.

In J.D.’s Revenge (1976), McKnight played a deceased New Orleans hustler who takes over the body of a college student (Glynn Turman) and goes after the man who murdered him and his sister 30 years earlier.

McKnight was hired to play Uncle Ray in Townsend’s The Hollywood Shuffle, playing a singer turned barber who encourages Townsend’s Bobby Taylor to pursue his dream of becoming an actor.

McKnight went on to portray Pastor Stone in the Townsend-directed The Five Heartbeats (1991) and was the father on a 1995 episode of The Parent ‘Hood, the Warner Bros. sitcom co-created by Townsend.

Born in Mound Bayou, Mississippi, McKnight and his family moved to Chicago when he was 4. He attended Wendell Phillips Academy High School, where he discovered acting, and Wilson Junior College in his hometown. He then served with the U.S. Army and worked as a police officer.

In 1970, McKnight starred on the first all-Black TV soap opera, Bird of the Iron Feather, which aired on WTTW in Chicago.

His film resume includes Lifeguard (1976) and Michael Crichton’s Coma (1978), A Taste of Hemlock (1989) and Pump Up the Volume (1990), Pizza Man (1991) and Under Siege (1992).

More recently, he appeared with Vivica A. Fox in the telefilm A Husband for Christmas (2016) and on the 2019-23 web series, A House Divided.

Survivors include his brother, James, and a daughter.

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