Charles Weldon (June 1, 1940 – December 7, 2018) was an actor, director, educator, singer, and songwriter. He was the artistic director of the Negro Ensemble Company for thirteen years. He was the co-founder of the Alumni of this company and directed many of their productions. During his career he worked with Denzel Washington, James Earl Jones, Cicely Tyson, Alfre Woodard, Muhammad Ali, and Oscar Brown Jr.
== Early years ==
Weldon's mother was Beatrice Jennings; his father was Roosevelt Weldon. The family moved from Wetumka, Oklahoma, to Bakersfield, California, when he was seven years old. As a young boy, he worked in the cotton fields of Bakersfield until the age of seventeen, when he joined a local doo-wop group. He graduated from Bakersfield High School in 1959. He was the brother of actress Ann Weldon, singer Maxine Weldon, and Mae Frances Weldon.As the lead singer of The Paradons, he co-wrote the hit record "Diamonds and Pearls" in 1960. The group appeared on the Dick Clark's American Bandstand television show and also toured with James Brown and Fats Domino. After the group disbanded, Weldon joined the soul group Blues for Sale.
== Career ==
Weldon began his acting career in 1969, with a role in the Oscar Brown Jr.'s musical Big-Time Buck White starring as Muhammad Ali. He joined the Negro Ensemble Company in 1970 and later became its artistic director in 2005.In 1973, he was a part of the Broadway cast of The River Niger, with Cicely Tyson and James Earl Jones. The River Niger was written by Joseph A. Walker (playwright) and won a Tony Award for best play.Weldon appeared in the original San Francisco production of Hair and directed and acted in many regional theaters. For the Denver Theater Center, he appeared in twelve productions. His last project was the short film Paris Blues in Harlem, which he co-produced and starred in with Nadhege Ptah and Michele Baldwin, who cast him in the project. Weldon starred in the role of the Jamaican Grim Reaper (the body-snatcher) in Sophia Romma's (playwright and Literary Manager of the Negro Ensemble Company from 2012) allegorical satire, The Blacklist at the 13th Street Repertory Company in 2016.
=== Onscreen ===
The Wishing Tree
=== Negro Ensemble Company Productions ===
In 2016 - A Day of Absence by Douglas Turner Ward
In 1982 - The Charles Fuller's Pulitzer Prize winner play A Soldier's Play.
In 1975 - The Brownsville Raid
In 1973 - The Great Mac Daddy by Paul Carter Harrison
In 1973 - The River Niger the Tony-winning Broadway production by Joseph A. Walker.
In 1970 - Ododo by Joseph Walker
=== Negro Ensemble Company as Director ===
Colored People Time, by Leslie Lee
The Waiting Room by Samm-Art Williams
Savanna Black and Blue by Raymond Jones
Ceremonies in Dark Old Men by Lonnie Elder III
Hercules Didn't Wade in the Water by Michael A. Jones
Negro Ensemble Theater Companies 50th Anniversary revival of A Soldier's Play by Charles Fuller
The Mire and With Aaron's Arms Around Me, by Sophia Romma https://www.broadwayworld.com/people/Sophia-Romma/at the Cherry Lane Theatre (2010)
Cabaret Emigre, by Sophia Romma at the Lion Theatre (Theatre Row, 2012)
=== The Negro Ensemble Company Awards ===
1982 -a Pulitzer Prize for A Soldier's Play
Two Tony Awards
=== Castillo Theater ===
2011: Directed The Picture Box
2013: Directed Stealing Home about Jackie Robinson
=== As an Actor ===
Film & Television
== Awards ==
Henry Award for Excellence in Regional Theater for Best Supporting Actor in Gem of the Ocean by August Wilson
AUDELCO Award for Best Supporting Actor in Seven Guitars by August Wilson
== References ==
== External links ==
Diamonds and Pearls
"Diamonds and Pearls" - Charles Weldon of The Paradons
Charles Weldon Interview