Thursday, March 20, 2008
Earlier this week we lost actor, writer, director and producer Ivan Dixon. He was 76. All of us children of television knew him best as Sgt. James "Kinch" Kinchloe on the classic TV sitcom Hogan's Heroes, and for the two Twilight Zone episodes The Big Tall Wish ( featuring an all black cast) & I Am the Night—Color Me Black. ( I always loved Rod Serling's Closing Narration, "A sickness known as hate; not a virus, not a microbe, not a germ, but a sickness nonetheless; highly contagious, deadly in its effects. Don't look for it in the Twilight Zone. Look for it in a mirror. Look for it before the light goes out altogether.) Mr. Dixon was most proud of roles in A Raisin in the Sun and Nothing But a Man, but he had no problem about being recognized as Kinchloe.
Sgt. Kinchloe deserves a special place in Television history. He came at a time when there were not many blacks on TV and of the few blacks that were on a network television series, most were in subservient roles. Sgt. Kinchloe was never seen as a buffoon and was truly Col. Hogan's right hand man and confidant. Mr Dixon did have problems with the role causing him to leave the series after five seasons, but the role did launch him into directing television shows like The Waltons, The Rockford Files, Magnum, P.I. and In the Heat of the Night.
Dixon was active in efforts to get better parts for blacks in movies and television. This quote is from an interview he gave The New York Times in 1967: "Sponsors haven't wanted anything negative connected with their products. We must convince them that the Negro is not negative."
I realise that Mr. Dixon's body of work is so vast and I have barely scratched the surface here.
Good Night Mr. Dixon and feel free to turn off the coffee pot.