- NAME: Woody Strode
- OCCUPATION: Film Actor, Football Player
- BIRTH DATE: July 28, 1914
- DEATH DATE: December 31, 1994
- Did You Know?: Woody Strode earned money during college working as a porter on the Warner Brothers studio lot.
- Did You Know?: In 1946, Woody Strode and Kenny Washington became the first two African-American players in the NFL since 1934.
- EDUCATION: University of California, Los Angeles
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Los Angeles, California
- PLACE OF DEATH: Glendora, California
- Full Name: Woodrow Wilson Woolwine Strode
- AKA: Woodrow Strode
- Nickname: Woody
Best Known For
Woody Strode was a Hollywood actor who also had a brief career as a professional football player.
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A professional football player and actor, Woody Strode was born on July 28 (some sources say July 25), 1914, in Los Angeles, California. Along with his friend and teammate Kenny Washington, Strode integrated the National Football League in 1946. In the 1950s, Strode's focus switched to acting; he went on to work with John Wayne, John Ford,
"Integrating the NFL was the low point of my life. There was nothing nice about it. History doesn't know we are."
"If I have to integrate heaven, I don't want to go."
Kirk Douglas and other Hollywood luminaries. Strode died on December 31, 1994.
Woodrow Wilson Woolwine Strode was born on July 28 (some sources say July 25), 1914, in Los Angeles, California. His father, a bricklayer, had Creek, Blackfoot and African-American heritage; his mother was part Cherokee, and also the daughter of a former slave.
Woody Strode attended Jefferson High School, where he was more focused on sports than on studying. In 1936—after improving his academic record—he landed a football scholarship for the University of California, Los Angeles. Strode became a star at UCLA, joining forces with Kenny Washington and Jackie Robinson on the school's successful football team. He also developed into a noted decathlete.
In 1940, Strode left UCLA. That same year, he married Hawaiian princess Luukialuana "Luana" Kalaeloa. Strode began playing football for the Hollywood Bears, then put his career on hold to join the Army Air Corps during World War II. Part of his military service included playing football.
Following the war's conclusion, Strode continued his football career. With Washington, his close friend and former college teammate, he signed on with the Los Angeles Rams in 1946. Strode and Washington were the two first African Americans to play in the National Football League since 1934.
However, neither the league nor its fans were ready to fully accept integration, and many looked down upon Strode's "mixed" marriage. Strode repeatedly fended off verbal attacks; at one point, his wife punched a heckler. Later, Strode looked back at his pioneering days in the NFL with bitterness. "Integrating the NFL was the low point of my life," he told Sports Illustrated. "There was nothing nice about it."
After one season with the Rams, Strode moved north to play with the Canadian Football League's Calgary Stampeders. Following his retirement from football, Strode continued his sports career as a professional wrestler, facing opponents like Gorgeous George and Barone Leone.
Strode's first exposure to the movie business had been in college, when he had worked as a porter on the Warner Brothers lot, assisting stars like Bette Davis and Errol Flynn. Strode made his initial film appearance in 1941's Sundown, but it was not until the 1950s that he began to focus on acting. While still working as a wrestler, Strode appeared on television in Ramar of the Jungle. He then landed small parts in films such as The Ten Commandments (1956) and Tarzan's Fight for Life (1958).
A breakthrough came when Strode caught the attention of famed director John Ford, who cast him in the title role in Sergeant Rutledge (1960). The movie tells the tale of a cavalry officer who has been charged with rape and murder, crimes he did not commit.
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