Larry Riley (June 20, 1952 – June 6, 1992) was an American actor and musician, best known for his role as C.J. Memphis in the film A Soldier's Story (1984) and as Frank Williams in the prime-time TV soap opera Knots Landing.
Early life and career
Born in Memphis, Tennessee, Riley began acting in high school before studying drama at the University of Memphis. He made his professional stage debut in 1971, and went on to appear in various stage productions on and off-Broadway including A Broadway Musical, Shakespeare's Cabaret, I Love My Wife, and Big River, a musical based on Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. In 1982, Riley won a Clarence Derwent and Obie Award for his performance in A Soldier's Play. He later reprised the role in the 1984 film based on the play. From 1984 to 1985, Riley portrayed the role of Curtis Taylor, Jr. in the national touring company of Dreamgirls. He also appeared as the leading player in the U.S. touring company of Pippin.
From 1980 to 1982, Riley portrayed Calvin Barnes in the daytime soap opera The Doctors. He later had guest roles on Hill Street Blues and Miami Vice, and appeared in Louis Malle's 1984 film Crackers. In 1985, Riley starred in the short-lived sitcom Stir Crazy, based on the 1980 film of the same name. In 1988, he won the role of Frank Williams on the long-running nighttime soap Knots Landing, becoming the series' first regular African American cast member. The role garnered Riley a Soap Opera Digest Award for Outstanding Actor in a Primetime Supporting Role in 1991.
He has also voiced the arch villain Dumping Jack Trash in the children's animated series Fantastic Max.
In addition to acting, Riley was also a musician and singer. He sang in several episodes of Knots Landing and also composed the score for several episodes.
Illness and death
In May 1989, Riley entered rehab for drug and alcohol abuse. The following year, he discovered he was HIV positive. According to his wife Nina, Riley "was not gay. He was not bisexual. He did not use needles at all. He speculated it was from a woman. Because he was quite the womanizer." Fearful that news of his diagnosis would ruin his career, Riley did not disclose his illness to anyone except his wife and continued working on Knots Landing. To explain his dramatic weight loss, Riley claimed that he was suffering from kidney failure due to high blood pressure. Riley's true illness was revealed by his wife and doctor after his death.
|1984||A Soldier's Story||C.J. Memphis|
|1980-1982||The Doctors||Calvin Barnes||Unknown episodes|
|1982||Muggable Mary, Street Cop||Steve Kelsey||Television movie|
|Hill Street Blues||Vernon Tucker||Episode: "Little Boil Blue"|
|1984||Miami Vice||Bobby Price||Episode: "Cool Runnin'"|
|1985||Stir Crazy||Harry Fletcher||9 episodes|
|Badge of the Assassin||Herman Bell||Television movie|
|1986||The Twilight Zone||Joshua||Episode: "Quarantine"|
|The Fall Guy||Cleveland Tudor||Episode: "Two On a Skip"|
|One Police Plaza||Detective Starling||Television movie|
|1987||Spenser: For Hire||Bo Braxton||Episode: "One for My Daughter"|
|Long Gone||Joe Louis Brown||Television movie|
|1988-1992||Knots Landing||Frank Williams||111 episodes|
|1988||Dead Solid Perfect||Spec||Television movie|
|Fantastic Max||Dumping Jack Trash (voice)||3 episodes|
|1989||Unconquered||Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.||Television movie|
|Polly||Reverend Gillis||Television movie|
|1990||Polly: Comin' Home!||Reverend Gillis||Television movie|
Awards and nominations
|1982||Clarence Derwent Awards||Won||Most Promising Male||A Soldier's Play|
|1982||Drama Desk Award||Nominated||Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play||A Soldier's Play|
|1990||Soap Opera Digest Awards||Nominated||Outstanding Supporting Actor: Prime Time||Knots Landing|
|1991||Won||Outstanding Supporting Actor: Prime Time||Knots Landing|
|1992||Nominated||Outstanding Actor: Prime Time||Knots Landing|
- Gliatto, Tom (1992-06-22). "Death in Knots Landing". People 37 (24). ISSN 0093-7673.
- "Larry Riley, 39, Actor On 'Knots Landing'". The New York Times. 1992-06-10. Retrieved 01 December 2009. Check date values in:
- "Larry Riley Biography (1952-1992)". filmreference.com. Retrieved 01 December 2009. Check date values in:
- "Actor Larry Riley, 39, Dies of AIDS In Burbank, Calif.". Jet (Johnson Publishing Company) 82 (10): 62. 1992-06-29. ISSN 0021-5996.
- Theatre World 1991-1992, Volume 48. Hal Leonard Corporation. 2000. p. 240. ISBN 1-557-83142-4.
- "Late Actor Larry Riley Of 'Knots Landing' Leaves $200,000 Estate To Widow". Jet (Johnson Publishing Company) 83 (22): 51. 1993-03-29. ISSN 0021-5996.
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