Francois G. Durand/WireImage

Filmmaker, author and songwriter Melvin Van Peebles has died from natural causes. He was 89.

Melvin Van Peebles is best known for his cult classics Watermelon Man and Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song.

A family statement reads:

"In an unparalleled career distinguished by relentless innovation, boundless curiosity and spiritual empathy, Melvin Van Peebles made an indelible mark on the international cultural landscape through his films, novels, plays and music.

"His work continues to be essential and is being celebrated at the New York Film Festival this weekend with a 50th anniversary screening of his landmark film Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song; a Criterion Collection box set, Melvin Van Peebles: Essential Films next week; and a revival of his play Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death, slated for a return to Broadway next year."

Derrick Salters/WENN.com

Dubbed the Godfather of Black Cinema, Van Peebles shot to fame with his mainstream directorial debut, The Story of a Three-Day Pass, and landed the job of bringing Watermelon Man to the big screen in 1970.

The racial satire, starring Godfrey Cambridge, was a huge hit, landing Van Peebles a three-picture deal at Columbia.

However, movie executives were not supportive of his follow-up, Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song, which Van Peebles made anyway using cash loaned to him by Bill Cosby.

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Melvin wrote, directed, produced, scored and edited Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song, while also starring as the title character.

Following its release, the movie became the highest-grossing independent film in history.

His filmmaking credits also include Identity Crisis, which starred his son Mario Van Peebles, and Posse, in which he co-starred with his son.

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Mario also adapted his father's novel about the growth of the Black Panther Party into 1995 film Panther, and the younger Van Peebles paid homage to his dad in 2003's Baadasssss.

Among his many accolades, Melvin picked up a Cinema Vanguard Award and a Special Achievement Award from the African-American Film Critics Association, a Daytime Emmy, a Gotham Tribute Award, the Humanitas Prize, and a NAACP Image Award.

Source: WENN.com

James Devaney/GC Images

William "Willie" Garson kept his sexuality secret to avoid the controversy of a heterosexual playing a ghey man on TV.

Garson died Tuesday after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 57.

Willie Garson played openly ghey Stanford Blatch, a beloved talent agent who was referred to as the "Fifth Lady" in HBO's Sex and the City.

Garson played his role so well that fans of the show assumed he was homosexual in real life.

James Devaney/GC Images

Blatch was besties with Sarah Jessica Parker's character Carrie Bradshow on the HBO series.

In the last two seasons of the show, his character, Blatch, was romantically linked with Broadway dancer Marcus Adente (Sean Palmer).

FayesVision/WENN.com

In real life, Garson was involved in a longterm relationship with a woman who didn't want children. So he adopted a boy, Nathen, as a single father.

"He's an adult and soon to be taking care of me which is really why I got him to be honest," Garson said about Nathen, now 20. "He's lovely and a really special guy. He's wonderful and he's in college in Ohio."

Rocky/WENN.com

In an interview with Page Six last year Willie explained how he kept his sexuality a secret "for years" over fears his heterosexuality would be "offensive to gay people".

"For years I didn't talk about it because I found it to be offensive to gay people. People playing gay characters jumping up and down screaming that they're not gay, like that would somehow be a bad thing if they were."

He added:

"When the question would come up during the show I would say, 'When I was on White Collar no one ever asked me if I was a conman, and when I was on NYPD Blue, nobody ever asked me if I was a murderer.

"This is what we do for a living, portray people."

Photo may have been deleted

VladTV.com

Actor and comedian Anthony Johnson died after he was found lifeless in a store and rushed to a hospital earlier this month. He was 55.

His death was confirmed by his nephew, who told TMZ Johnson was pronounced dead at the hospital earlier this month. No cause of death was disclosed.

Anthony is best known for his comedic roles in Friday (1995), Menace II Society (1993) and The Players Club (1998).

Johnson's career took off in 1990 after he landed the role of E.Z.E. in House Party and he went on to do stand-up comedy in Los Angeles clubs.

Photo may have been deleted

YouTube

He also appeared in the films Lethal Weapon 3 and in nearly 50 films and TV shows, including Moesha, Martin, Malcolm & Eddie, and I Got the Hook Up and its sequel. It's also rumored Johnson was cast to reprise his role in the upcoming Last Friday.

Fans and colleagues paid tribute to Johnson on Twitter.com.

Hollywood To You/Star Max/GC Images

Agents raided the North Hollywood home of Netflix actor Siaka Massaquoi (right) who participated in the "Stop the Steal" protest rally in Washington, DC in January.

Massaquoi was photographed among the Trump supporters protesting the 2020 presidential election in the nation's capitol on January 6, 2021.

fupp/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

Nearly two dozen armed agents raided Massaquoi's home, terrorizing the actor and his friends just before 6 a.m. on Friday, the L.A. Times reports.

42-year-old Brian Burks and his two minor children were in the home at the time of the raid.

Burks' ex-wife, Luvelle Mendoza, told the Times that her ex-husband was "briefly detained" by agents. She said her two sons, ages three and seven, were also in the home when the agents stormed in with semi-automatic rifles.

"My heart breaks," said Mendoza who worries about the mental trauma to her young boys. "They had to see the big guns and I just think, I wasn't there to console them."

The Times reports that both men are under investigation for their comments on a social media app.

fupp/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

Massaquoi is best known for his roles in "S.W.A.T." and "NCIS: Los Angeles." He attended political rallies in support of former President Donald Trump in 2020. And he participated in the movement to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat.

On his Instagram account, Massaqoui, a registered Republican, said he was within his constitutional rights to protest -- just as Black Lives Matter and Antifa protested by looting and burning down courthouses and police stations last summer.

"I did nothing wrong on the 6th... did nothing violent," Massaquoi wrote on IG.

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Clarence Williams III, the American actor who played Linc Hayes in the television series The Mod Squad, has lost his battle with colon cancer.

The 81-year-old actor passed away in Los Angeles on Friday, June 4, his managers have confirmed.

ABC/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Williams starred in the ABC crime drama, alongside Peggy Lipton and Michael Cole, from September 24, 1968, to March 1, 1973.

He also played pop icon Prince's father in the 1984 musical cult film Purple Rain; as well as roles in Tales from the Hood, Half Baked, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Reindeer Games.

Williams III began his career on Broadway in the 1960s, winning a Tony Award for his role in Broadway play Slow Dance on the Killing Ground, before landing his breakout role in crime drama series The Mod Squad.

In addition to playing Prince's father in Purple Rain, He went on to play Wesley Snipes' dad in Sugar Hill, and joined Dave Chappelle in stoner comedy Half Baked.

His other credits included Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Twin Peaks, The Littlest Hobo, The Cosby Show, Hill Street Blues, Miami Vice, The Highwayman, Walker, Texas Ranger, and Tales from the Crypt.

Williams married actress Gloria Foster in 1967. She appeared in 2 episodes of The Mod Squad. They also starred together in a movie, The Cool World, in 1964.

They divorced in 1984 and Williams announced her death in 2001. He did not marry again and he had no children.

Dan MacMedan/WireImage

Kate Winslet opened up about "well known" celebrities who are hiding their LGBT+ status due to "homophobia" in Hollywood.

In a recent interview, the "Titanic" actress spoke about "stigma" in Hollywood that terrifies celebrities.

Winslet, 45, said well-known stars are afraid to come out of the closet because they will lose out on straight roles.

"I cannot tell you the number of young actors I know — some well known, some starting out — who are terrified their sexuality will be revealed and that it will stand in the way of their being cast in straight roles," she said. "Now that's f***ed up."

"I'm telling you," she continued. "A well-known actor has just got an American agent and the agent said, 'I understand you are bisexual. I wouldn't publicist that.' I can think of at least four actors absolutely hiding their sexuality. It's painful. Because they fear being found out. And that's what they say. 'I don't want to be found out.'"

Winslet said the stigma applies more to males than females.

"It's bad news. Hollywood has to drop that dated crap of, 'Can he play straight because, apparently, he's gay?'"

"That should be almost illegal," she said. "You would not believe how widespread it is. And it can't just be distilled to the question about gay actors playing gay parts. Because actors, in some cases, are choosing not to come out for personal reasons. And it's nobody's business. Perhaps privacy. Perhaps conditioning and shame."

The LGBT+ community is particularly sensitive to straight actors playing LGBT+ roles.

"We could have had a conversation about how I feel about playing a lesbian and possibly taking that role from somebody," Winslet said. "But I'm done with not being honest about what my real opinions are, and I know the part was never offered to anybody else. In taking this part I had an opportunity to bring an LGBTQ story into living rooms."

Getty Images

Character actor Yaphet Kotto, best known for starring as a villain kingpin in James Bond film Live and Let Die, has passed away. He was 81.

Kotto's wife Tessie Sinahon broke the news on Facebook on Monday night, March 15. She wrote:

"I'm saddened and still in shocked of the passing of my husband Yaphet of 24 years. He died last night around 10:30pm Philippine time... You played a villain on some of your movies but for me you're a real hero and to a lot of people also. A good man, a good father, a good husband and a decent human being, very rare to find. One of the best actor in Hollywood a Legend. Rest in Peace Honey, I’m gonna miss you everyday, my best friend, my rock."

Kotto got his start in acting on Broadway, where he appeared in The Great White Hope, among other productions in the 1960s.

In 1967 he released a single, "Have You Ever Seen The Blues" / "Have You Dug His Scene" on Chisa Records.

United Archives via Getty Images

He transitioned from Broadway to blaxploitation films such as 1973's Friday Foster, alongside Pam Grier, before major Hollywood studios came calling.

As well as starring in Live and Let Die - pulling double duty as dictator Dr. Kananga and his alter ego Mr. Big - Kotto famously played technician Dennis Parker in 1979 horror movie Alien, and appeared opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1987 action film The Running Man.

Kotto also enjoyed success on the small screen, starring as Al Giardello in the series Homicide: Life on the Street from 1993 to 1999.

In his final role before his death he voiced the character of Parker once again for the Alien: Isolation video game.

He is survived by his wife and six children.

Top photo: Stanley Bielecki Movie Collection/Getty Images

Harry Langdon/Getty Images

Deezer D, best known as scrub nurse Malik McGrath on NBC TV's "ER," has died at age 55.

Deezer, born Dearon Thompson, was found unresponsive at home, his brother Marshawn told TMZ. It is believed Thompson died of a heart attack. He previously underwent open heart surgery in 2009.

"I have a heart valve that is leaking and the aorta had expanded to way beyond what it is supposed to be," the actor told Radar Online at the time. "As soon as the doctor identified what was going on, he put me in here. What I was going through for the last year — that was scary. I'm fearless about the surgery."

Deezer D began his career as a young rapper in the 1990s. He transitioned into acting and landed a role in the 1991 musical comedy film "Cool as Ice" starring rapper Vanilla Ice.

Anthony Barboza/Getty Images

The aspiring rapper also starred in the urban comedy films "CB4" and 2002's "Crazy as Hell." He is pictured left in a 1993 photo shoot for CB4 with actors Allen Payne, center, and Chris Rock.

A new Deezer D single, "History Can't Be Stopped," was released posthumously on Friday.
 

Photo may have been deleted

Jamie Foxx bulked up to the delight of his female (and some male) fans. The comedic actor has wowed fans with his pumped-up physique as he transforms himself into the Black hulk to portray boxer Mike Tyson in a new movie.

Jamie perfected Tyson's famous lisp as part of his stand-up routine years ago and now he's bulking up to look like Mike for the upcoming biopic Finding Mike.

Posting a shirtless photo of himself on Instagram on Friday, the 52-year-old Oscar winner added the caption: "The transformation begins... FINDING MIKE."

"It is no secret that I have been pursuing the @miketyson biopic for some time... people always ask me when is it going to happen...? things have finally lined up... A few months ago we started the journey... The first but biggest task is to transform the body... with a regiment [sic] of pull-ups dips and push-ups we are off to a pretty good start... we have a ways to go but God willing."

Jamie's fans complained about the poor quality of the images on his Instagram. One user asked if his phone was a throwback from the early 2000s.

Andy Lyons/Getty Images/NBAE

It's going to be difficult for Jamie to bulk up at his age. Muscles naturally begin to go limp after age 45 when male hormone levels start to decline.

Sure, he can take steroids or supplements to boost his male androgens (hormones), but his huge muscles will still be soft rather than the hard, chiseled look that the ladies (and men) like.
 

Daniel Zuchnik/WireImage

The Wire actor Andre Royo's wife has filed for divorce after 22 years of marriage.

According to TMZ, Jane Choi filed the divorce petition in Los Angeles County Superior Court, citing irreconcilable differences. Choi, lists the date of separation as 5 December, 2019

The 51-year-old character actor is best known for his role as Reginald "Bubbles" Cousins on the HBO crime drama The Wire.

The couple has one daughter, Stella Royo, who is a teenager, and Choi also asked the court not to award either of them spousal support.

The couple was married on 21 November, 1997.

In addition to his appearance on five seasons of the hit HBO series, Andre has also appeared on Fringe, Party Down, How to Make It in America, and Empire.

Andre attended Mount Saint Michael Academy in the Bronx around the same time as future rap mogul Sean "Puffy" Combs.