Tags: Hollywood | denzel washington | tv | star | power

Denzel Washington on TV: How His Star Power Went Beyond the Big Screen

By    |   Thursday, 09 Apr 2015 05:22 PM

The big screen undoubtedly lays claim to Denzel Washington’s most powerful, critically acclaimed turns as historic icons, rogue cops, and beleaguered professionals, but the two-time Oscar winner actually got his earliest breaks on TV.

1. "Wilma" (1977)

In what would be the first of many dramatic film roles, Washington played the second husband and high school sweetheart of an Olympic runner in the made-for-TV movie “Wilma.”

Washington was cast at age 23 as Robert Eldridge in the biopic, which chronicled how Wilma Rudolph (played by Shirley Jo Finney) defeated physical limitations to win three gold medals in the 1966 Olympic games.

2. "St. Elsewhere" (1982-1988)

The small screen beckoned again five years later, after Washington was fresh off the success of playing the illegitimate son of a white executive in the 1981 film "Carbon Copy."

Vote Now: Who Is Your Favorite Actor of All Time?

In "St. Elsewhere," Washington played Dr. Philip Chandler in an ensemble cast alongside fellow future Academy Award winner Helen Hunt. The NBC sleeper, dually billed as dark comedy and drama, centered on the medical staff at St. Eligius Hospital, an aging underdog overshadowed by higher quality healthcare facilities in Boston.

As the only black doctor on a predominantly white staff, the character grappled with an identity crisis and even left the profession altogether for a quieter life in Mississippi with fellow doctor and love interest Roxanne Turner (played by Alfie Woodard).

In the pilot episode, Washington’s Chandler treats a female experiencing pain. Years later in an interview, he doubted his pronunciation of a malady. “It sounds like I said choelithisis. I believe, any doctors out there, if they call in, let me know. I believe it's cholelithiasis,” he told NPR’s Terry Gross in a 2008.

The show went on to earn 13 Emmy Awards and garnered accolades from TV Guide, which ranked it No. 20 in its “The 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time."

The role of Chandler earned Washington himself a second-place spot on The Almost Doctor’s Channel’s list of the 11 hottest doctors on television. Chandler ranked second, behind Jane Seymore’s Michaela Quinn on “Medicine Woman” and ahead of “Nip/Tuck” plastic surgeon Christian Troy, played by Julian McMahon.

But even during St. Elsewhere's heyday, Washington had his sights set on the big screen, according to biographer James Robert Parish, who recollected an interview in which the actor expressed this thoughts about his role on the hospital drama.

“To be honest, I didn't give a lot of input into my character, because I didn't want it to expand too much. I wanted to remain in the background so I could do movies,” said Washington.

After St. Elsewhere ended, Washington would be rarely seen on TV again.

Vote Now: Which of These Actors Stands the Test of Time?

© 2017 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

   
1Like our page
2Share
FastFeatures
The big screen undoubtedly lays claim to Denzel Washington’s most powerful, critically acclaimed turns as historic icons, rogue cops, and beleaguered professionals, but the two-time Oscar winner actually got his earliest breaks on TV.
denzel washington, tv, star, power
470
2015-22-09
Thursday, 09 Apr 2015 05:22 PM
Newsmax Inc.
 

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

NEWSMAX.COM
America's News Page
© Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved