|Died||25 September 1985 85) (aged|
Lagos, Lagos State, Nigeria
|Other names||Pa Orlando Martins (Epega family great-uncle)|
Orlando Martins (8 December 1899 – 25 September 1985) was a pioneering Nigerian film and stage actor. In the late 1940s, he was one of Britain's most prominent and leading black actors,and in a poll conducted in 1947, he was listed among Britain's top 15 favourite actors.
Martins was born in Lagos, Nigeria, to a Brazilian civil servant father and a Nigerian mother.[ citation needed ] He was related to the Benjamin Epega family. In 1913 he was enrolled in Eko Boys High School but dropped out. During World War I he served as a stoker on the RMS Mauretania to avenge German cruelty to his family. Following the end of the war, he moved to London; on arrival in 1919 he had no source of income and had to look for ways to earn money. Around the same time, the Lyceum Theatre was looking for "supers" at the rate of three shillings per day. Martins joined the theatre and from there took on various theatre jobs to survive. In 1923, Sanger's Circus wanted to have someone to display pythons, Martins took the part starting his performing career in the circus. He also worked as a wrestler (known as "Black Butcher Johnson").
In 1920, Martins was an extra acting with the Diaghilev ballet company, and was on the tour with the British company of Show Boat as a professional singer. He was an extra in silent films, having made his debut in If Youth But Knew (1926).In the 1930s he went into acting on the London stage,playing Boukman in Toussaint Louverture - The story of the only successful slave revolt in history , a 1936 drama by C. L. R. James that starred the legendary Paul Robeson, with whom Martins had featured in the 1935 film Sanders of the River .
After the war, Martins had films roles in The Man from Morocco (1945) and in Men of Two Worlds (1946), alongside Robert Adams, becoming a sought-after character actor who was described by Peter Noble in 1948 as "a tall, powerful figure of a man with a deep bass voice, friendly, hospitable and with a grand sense of humour."Noble went on to say of Martins: "He is keenly interested in the foundation of a Negro Theatre in London. As he points out: 'If this ever comes into being it will mean not only that Negro talent in every theatre can be shown to the world, but a continuity of employment for this talent which is now going sadly to waste.'"
He appears in the 1949 film The Hasty Heart (starring Ronald Reagan and Patricia Neal) playing the African warrior Blossom, which role Martins also undertook in the stage production.In the 1950s he made other appearances on the London stage, including in adaptations of Cry, the Beloved Country (Trafalgar Square Theatre, 1954), and The Member of the Wedding (Royal Court Theatre, 1957), before returning to Lagos in 1959. He subsequently took roles in such films as Killers of Kilimanjaro (1960), Call Me Bwana (1963), Mister Moses (1965), and Kongi's Harvest (1970, Wole Soyinka's adaptation of his play of the same name).
Martins died in 1985 at the age of 85 in Lagos, where he was buried at Ikoyi Cemetery.
|1935||Sanders of the River||Klova||Uncredited|
|1937||The Green Cockatoo||Uncredited|
|1945||The Man from Morocco||Jeremiah|
|1946||Men of Two Worlds||Magole|
|1947||The End of the River||Harrigan|
|1949||The Hasty Heart||Blossom|
|1954||West of Zanzibar||M'Kwongi|
|1953||The Heart of the Matter||Rev. Clay||Uncredited|
|1954||West of Zanzibar||M'Kwongwi|
|1957||Abandon Ship||Sam Holly|
|1957||Tarzan and the Lost Safari||Chief Ogonooro|
|1958||The Naked Earth||Tall Bearer|
|1959||The Nun's Story||Kalulu|
|1960||Killers of Kilimanjaro||Chief|
|1963||Sammy Going South||Abu Lubaba|
|1963||Call Me Bwana||Chief|
|1970||Kongi's Harvest||Dr. Gbenga|
|1971||Things Fall Apart||Obierka||(final film role)|
Akinwande Oluwole Babatunde Soyinka, known as Wole Soyinka, is a Nigerian playwright, poet and essayist. He was awarded the 1986 Nobel Prize in Literature, the first sub-Saharan African to be honoured in that category. Soyinka was born into a Yoruba family in Abeokuta. In 1954, he attended Government College in Ibadan, and subsequently University College Ibadan and the University of Leeds in England. After studying in Nigeria and the UK, he worked with the Royal Court Theatre in London. He went on to write plays that were produced in both countries, in theatres and on radio. He took an active role in Nigeria's political history and its struggle for independence from Great Britain. In 1965, he seized the Western Nigeria Broadcasting Service studio and broadcast a demand for the cancellation of the Western Nigeria Regional Elections. In 1967, during the Nigerian Civil War, he was arrested by the federal government of General Yakubu Gowon and put in solitary confinement for two years.
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