Award-winning actor Charles S. Dutton once spent time behind bars over a violent crime. After a period of isolation, he was determined to get back on track. Being accepted into a prestigious university changed his life.
Charles S. Dutton has impressed many fans with his superb acting in various films and television shows. The 70-year-old veteran actor was best known for his role as Roc Emerson in the 1991 TV series "Roc."
Besides the classic, three-seasoned sitcom, the Maryland, Baltimore native is widely recognized for his performance in the 1990 play "The Piano Lesson," which earned him a Tony Award nomination for best actor.
Charles S. Dutton at the 9th Annual Power of a Dream Gala hosted by the U.S. Dream Academy on May 18, 2010 in Washington, D.C. | Photo: Getty Images
Dutton did not only score moving films under his acting belt; he is admired for directing "The Corner," a drama series close to his heart. He was quoted in a 2000 Washington Post interview, saying:
"Because of my life and my past, I was always equated with some kind of expert on this subject. Which I very well might be."
In 1967, then 16-year-old Dutton was involved in a street fight with a man older than him. The veteran actor shared that the man he fought had nearly killed him.
Charles S. Dutton attends the "LUV" premiere during the 2012 Sundance Film Festival on January 23, 2012 in Park City, Utah. | Photo: Getty Images
Although he claimed the incident was a form of self-defense, Dutton was charged with manslaughter and sentenced to five years at the state prison in Jessup Correctional Institute in Maryland.
However, he was released after serving 20 months in jail. He was back in prison not long after his release, allegedly due to robbery and weapon charges.
He earned a three-year sentence in Maryland State Pen. Unfortunately, Dutton earned additional eight years in prison after having a fistfight with a jail guard who prevented him from having a visitor, according to the TV legend.
Charles S. Dutton poses for a photo during the 2014 American Black Film Festival on June 21, 2014 in New York City. | Photo: Getty Images
But Dutton's violent behavior did not just harm the jail guard; one of his cellmates got a taste of his aggressive acts following an intense argument over which shows they would watch on TV.
His theatrical acts led him to enter Hollywood, appearing in several films and starring on his famous series "Roc."
His roughness and rebellious ways affected his duties inside the jail. The two-time Tony-nominated actor was even placed in isolation for three days after refusing to clean toilets.
While inside the isolation cell, a book of plays kept him company. After reading the book from a prison library, Dutton became interested in staging a drama troupe.
Stage play changed him and inspired him to discover his humanity. After serving seven and a half years in prison, he was released in 1976 and abandoned his life on the streets.
He attended Towson State University after earning an equivalency certificate in high school and an associate's degree from prison. He later became a part of the Baltimore Theater Company.
Charles S. Dutton at the The Hip-Hop Inaugural Ball II on January 20, 2013 in Washington, D.C. | Photo: Getty Images
Afterward, Dutton pursued higher education and tried his luck at Yale University. He was accepted in Yale's Drama School, where he met his mentors, playwright August Wilson, and director Lloyd Richards.
His theatrical acts led him to enter Hollywood, appearing in several films and starring in his famous TV series "Roc." Dutton said John Wood; the late retired city sanitation worker was the inspiration for his character as Roc Emersion.
Apart from his onscreen performances, Dutton was known for his previous marriage to "All My Children" actress Debbi Morgan. Her marriage to the actor from 1989 to 1994 was her second one.
She was formerly married to Charles Weldon in 1980 and Donn Thompson in 1997. Morgan, who has been married to Jeffrey Winston since 2009, claimed she gained freedom from a cycle of abusive relationships.
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