Black happened upon acting by accident when a voice coach to whom he sold an air-filtering product suggested he try his hand at the performing arts. At the age of 30, he enrolled in the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York, then studied with the likes of Lee Strasberg, Herbert Berghof and Earl Hyman.
He landed a role as a palace guard in Papp's NYSF production of Hamlet, the cast of which included such future stars as Martin Sheen, William Devane and Ralph Waite (whom Black understudied). He continued appearing in various Shakespearian roles which led to performances with such renowned stage companies as The American Place Theater, the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis, the Seattle Rep, New York's Lincoln Center and others.
With a booming career in commercials, he moved to Los Angeles in the mid-1970's and quickly landed featured and co-starring roles on several TV sitcoms and drama series, notably All in the Family, Starsky & Hutch, What's Happening, White Shadow, The Jeffersons, General Hospital, The Brady Bunch, Simon & Simon, Cagney & Lacey, Moonlighting and The A-Team. He also appeared as Detective Chesley on the pilot for Hill Street Blues, which resulted in a recurring role for the show's first three seasons. One of the episodes in which he appeared opposite co-star Joe Spano won a Humanitas Prize for its teleplay.
Black's television credits include appearances on ER, Brooklyn South, NYPD Blue, Chicago Hope, Roc, Once and Again, The Gregory Hines Show, Hangin' with Mr. Cooper, Sisters, Lois and Clark and the NBC miniseries, Backstairs at the White House.
On the big screen, Black's feature film credits include Volcano, Blank Man, Re-Animator, National Lampoon's Vacation, Claudine, Silent Night, Deadly Night, Hero at Large and Brock's Last Case.
Black is still in demand in advertising circles, with TV commercial credits for such products as Chevrolet, Budweiser, Kellogg's Cereals, Ameritech, GTE, Coors Beer, Buick and others. He also starred in a TV spot for Little Caesar's Pizza, the first commercial to win a prize at the Cannes Film Festival.
Gerry Black Facts