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Legacy: Cleavon Little

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Legacy: Cleavon Little

He’s forever branded in our memory as the incongruous sheriff who hilariously romances Madeline Kahn’s Lili Von Shtupp in Mel Brooks’ outrageous 1974 comedy, Blazing Saddles. But Cleavon Little, who died of colon cancer at age 53 on Oct. 22 at his Los Angeles home, was more than a one-shot cowboy. He won a 1970 Tony award for Best Actor in the Broadway musical Purlie, and in 1986 he costarred with Judd Hirsch in the long-running stage comedy I’m Not Rappaport. On TV, Little won an Emmy for a guest appearance on Hirsch’s Dear John, and he recently starred in the Fox sitcom True Colors. His films available on video include 1971’s Vanishing Point, 1977’s Greased Lightning, 1985’s The Gig, Once Bitten, and 1989’s Fletch Lives.

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