Melvin Van Peebles was born on August 21, 1932 in Chicago, Illinois and graduated from Wesleyan University. His film Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song--made using much of his own money with a primarily nonprofessional cast and crew--was a huge success with African American audiences and pioneered the "blaxsploitation" film genre. His son is actor/director Mario Van Peebles.
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