Managed to avoid stereotyping for the most part in his early films years, his debut was as a baseball player in The Jackie Robinson Story (1950). His most important role was in the frank, groundbreaking drama One Potato, Two Potato (1964) as the black husband of a white woman (Barbara Barrie).
Divorced father of two children - daughter Candy and son Raoul.
Produced and sang on the album "Capt. Dobey Sings the Blues". Captain Dobey was the gruff police captain he played for four seasons on Starsky and Hutch (1975).
Ran away from home as a teenager but eventually attended Oakland Technical High School where he played football and developed an interest in acting.
Brother of jazz drummer Chico Hamilton. Originally cast as "Roop" in the film, Claudine (1974), but was dropped when Diana Sands, originally cast in the title role, had to withdraw because of illness. Diana suggested that the role go to her friend Diahann Carroll. When Carroll auditioned and got the part, James Earl Jones was cast in the role of "Roop".