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Pioneering Doctor Who and Thunderball star Earl Cameron dies aged 102


Earl has died aged 102 (Picture: Rebecca Sapp/WireImage)

Pioneering actor Earl Cameron, CBE has died aged 102.

The Thunderball, Inception and Doctor Who star was confirmed to have died by Bermudian newspaper The Royal Gazette.

Cameron was one of the first ever black actors to star in a British film, and is credited with breaking the ‘colour bar’ in the United Kingdom.

In 1951, he took a leading role in the noir crime film Pool of London, breaking major boundaries in an industry that had only cast a handful of black actors in prominent roles prior to that point.

In 2017, Cameron told The Guardian: ‘I never saw myself as a pioneer. It was only later, looking back, that it occurred to me that I was.’

Pool of London was the first British film to show a mixed race relationship, with Cameron’s character Johnny romancing a white woman.

The actor arrived in the UK from Bermuda in 1939, and it was difficult for him to find acting work, but he was given a role in the chorus line in the theatre production of Chu Chin Chow.

Cameron was made a CBE in 2009 (Picture: Anthony Devlin/WPA Pool/Getty Images)

After landing his role in Pool of London, he went on to appear in films like Simba, Adongo, Sapphire and Guns at Batasi, before in 1965, he bagged his most high profile role yet, starring as Pinder in the James Bond film Thunderball, alongside Sean Connery.

The following year, he starred as astronaut Williams in the Doctor Who episode The Tenth Planet, becoming the first black actor to ever play an astronaut.

The serial is partly missing due to BBC’s policy of wiping archived programmes, but wa spieced back together with animation to be released on DVD in 2013. 

In 1973, Cameron starred alongside Sidney Poitier in A Warm December, but at the end of the 70s, he left acting to establish a Baha’i centre in the Solomon Islands.

The Baha’i faith is a a belief system concerned with the oneness of God and the harmony of humanity.

The actor landed high profile roles in Thunderball and A Warm December (Picture: Popperfoto via Getty Images)

Cameron ran the centre and an ice cream shop until the mid 90s, when his first wife Audrey passed away in 1994.

He moved back to the UK, marrying his wife Barbara, who he remained with until his death, and incredibly, despite being in his 80s, he resumed his acting career, appearing in films like The Interpreter and The Queen.

His final credit was a small part in the Christopher Nolan film Inception in 2010.

Cameron was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire 9CBE) in 2009, and he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Warwick in 2013. 

A theatre in Hamilton, Bermuda, is also named after him.

Cameron, who lived in Warwickshire, is survived by his wife Barbara and his six children. 

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