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Harold Sylvester Papers Now Open for Research


Full-body shot of Harold Sylvester early in his career, undated.

The Amistad Research Center is pleased to announce that the personal papers of actor, writer, and film producer, Harold Sylvester are now available for research.

Sylvester was born in New Orleans, Louisiana on February 10, 1949. He later attended St. Augustine High School where he stood out as a basketball player and a good student. As a 6’5 junior, he helped lead the St. Augustine team to the state championship. Sylvester also participated in the Secret Game—an unadvertised game between all-black St. Augustine and all-white Jesuit High School.

He was recruited by several colleges to play basketball, but ultimately, he chose Tulane University. He would be the first African American to be admitted on an athletic scholarship. While in college, he married Kathleen Dunn and together they would have two children. He began college with an interest in psychology, but a theater class awakened a love for acting and the desire to pursue it as a full-time career.

Over the next four decades of his career, Harold Sylvester became a familiar face to film and television audiences with roles in seventeen feature films and hundreds of series. His film roles included A Hero Ain’t Nothin’ But a Sandwich, An Officer and a Gentleman, Innerspace, Uncommon Valor, Fast Break, and Corrina, Corrina. He was a series regular on Today’s FBI, Mary, Shaky Ground, and Walking Tall and had recurring roles on Hill Street Blues, Days of Our Lives, and Married…With Children as Griff, Al Bundy’s co-worker.

Sylvester is also a writer, film producer, and director. He wrote the screenplay for Passing Glory (a movie based on the Secret Game between St. Augustine and made his directorial debut for the film NOLA—a movie set in post-Katrina New Orleans. Sylvester won an Emmy as the writer and executive producer for the TNT documentary, On Hallowed Ground.

Today, Sylvester mainly focuses on writing and producing, although he still continues to act.

Image from the Harold Sylvester Papers. Images from Amistad’s website, newsletters, and blogs cannot be reproduced without permission

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