Rockne Tarkington

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Rockne Tarkington
Rockne Booth Tarkington

(1931-07-31)July 31, 1931
Junction City, Kansas, United States
DiedApril 5, 2015(2015-04-05) (aged 83)
Years active1963–1995
Joan Blackman
(m. 1968; div. 1970)
ChildrenRockne Tarkington Jr. , Keith Tarkington, Ngai Tarkington

Rockne Booth Tarkington (July 15, 1931 – April 5, 2015) was an American stage, film and television actor.[1]


Born in Junction City, Kansas, Tarkington began his career as a stage actor, and made the transition to television with guest appearances in episodes of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Kraft Suspense Theatre, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Ben Casey, Mission: Impossible, Bewitched, and many others. Tarkington was also the first credited black actor to appear on The Andy Griffith Show, and the only African American on the show to ever have a speaking part.[2][3]

Tarkington made recurring appearances on Tarzan (as Tao) and starred as Elihu Morgan on Danger Island on Hanna-Barbera's Banana Splits Adventure Hour. He also played "Too Mean" Malone on the 1983–84 season of Matt Houston and made appearances in episodes of Bearcats!, MacGyver, Baretta and other shows in the 1970s and 1980s.[4]

As a film actor, Tarkington played the title role in the blaxploitation picture Black Samson (1974), and co-starred with Richard X. Slattery in The No Mercy Man (1973) and Zebra Force (1976). He also appeared in films such as Soldier in the Rain (1963), Clarence, the Cross-Eyed Lion (1965), The Great White Hope (1970), Beware! The Blob (1972), Melinda (1972), The Baltimore Bullet (1980), National Lampoon's Movie Madness (1983), The Ice Pirates (1984), Uphill All the Way (1986) and Death Before Dishonor (1987), and had parts in many television films. Rockne was the first choice to play the part of Williams in Enter the Dragon but just before the start of filming he was replaced by Jim Kelly.

Personal life[edit]

Tarkington lived in Los Angeles for the majority of his career where he was married to fellow screen actor Joan Blackman from July 1968 to October 1970.[5] In the 1990s he returned home to Kansas when his mother became ill. He turned to religion, eventually becoming a Mormon after seeing a television commercial for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.[2]


Year Title Role Notes
1963 Soldier in the Rain Sgt. William Booth
1965 Major Dundee Jefferson Uncredited
1965 Clarence, the Cross-Eyed Lion Juma
1965 Tell Me in the Sunlight Rocky
1968 P.J. Cato Uncredited
1969 The Dream of Hamish Mose Hamish Mose
1970 The Great White Hope Rudy
1972 Beware! The Blob Deputy Williams
1972 Melinda Tank
1973 The No Mercy Man Prophet
1974 Home Grown Hank
1974 Black Samson Samson
1974 Black Starlet Ben
1976 Zebra Force
1977 The Great Gundown Sutton
1980 The Baltimore Bullet Gunner
1982 National Lampoon's Movie Madness Black Cop - 'Municipalians'
1982 Showdown at Eagle Gap Enterprise Jackson
1984 The Ice Pirates Patch
1986 Uphill All the Way Leon
1987 Death Before Dishonor Jihad
1988 Under the Gun Leon
1989 Fists of Steel Rijar
1994 Wyatt Earp Stable Hand


  1. ^ "RIP Rockne Tarkington". September 30, 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Act Well Thy Part". Portraits. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Retrieved 12 April 2012.
  3. ^ "50 Years of the Andy Griffith Show". Internet Archie Forums. Retrieved 12 April 2012.
  4. ^ "Rockne Tarkington". Retrieved 12 April 2012.
  5. ^ "Joan Blackman". Glamour Girls of the Silver Screen. Retrieved 12 April 2012.

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