News of the death of actor Lou Myers hit hard in Winston-Salem.
The show business veteran was a frequent presence at the biennial National Black Theatre Festival, endearing himself to fans with his kindness and folksy nature. He was a celebrity guest at the most recent NBTF in 2011 and told fans to expect his return at this year’s event, slated for July 29–Aug. 3.
At the 2007 Festival, he was presented with a Living Legend Award for his decades of work on the stage and big and small screens.
NBTF Director Sylvia Sprinkle-Hamlin said Myers’ passing has left a void.
“We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of one of our living legends,” she said. “Mr. Myers was very supportive of the National Black Theatre Festival. We will truly miss him.”
Lawrence Evans, the NBTF’s celebrity coordinator, also expressed his sorrow. He said he is taking some solace in knowing that Myers has joined NBTF founder Larry Leon Hamlin and other acting legends whose support and presence helped to define the Festival.
“‘He’s gone on tour’ is a phrase we sometimes use, particularly in the world of theatre, when actors makes their transition,” Evans said. “I’m sure that Larry Leon has already assembled a Marvtastic cast of heavenly luminaries who have attended the National Black Theatre Festival. Lou will continue to tell it like it is as he is welcomed by Ossie Davis, August Wilson, John Henry Redwood, Esther Rolle, Carl Gordon, Roscoe Lee Brown, Virginia Capers, Sherman Hemsley, Isabel Sanford, Moses Gunn, Ray Aranha, Lex Monson, Beah Richards, Dick Anthony Williams, Jason Bernard and others.”
Myers, who was 77, was born in Chesapeake, W. Va. He died near his hometown at the Charleston (W. Va.) Medical Center on Feb. 19, soon after undergoing heart-related surgery. He is best known for playing Vernon Gaines on the hit “A Different World,” which ran on NBC from 1987 to 1993. His films included “The Wedding Planner,” “How Stella Got Her Groove Back,” “Tin Cup,” “Bulworth” and “The Fighting Temptations.”
Myers was also a stage veteran, claiming an NAACP Theatre Award for his portrayal of Stool Pigeon in August Wilson’s “King Heley II” and a AUDELCO Award for his role in the off-Broadway hit “Fat Tuesday.”
Myers is survived by his mother and a son.