T K Carter
A talented black stand-up who branched out into comedy roles, T K Carter astounded critics and audiences with his richly textured portrait of a successful businessman who descends into heroin addiction in the acclaimed HBO drama "The Corner" (2000). While he had demonstrated his dramatic capabilities previously in supporting roles in films (e.g., "A Rage in Harlem" 1991) and TV (i.e., "Billy: Portrait of a Street Kid" CBS 1977), the performer hadn't had a meaty lead before. Ken Tucker in Entertainment Weekly was so impressed that in his April 14, 2000 review, he wrote "Carter's performance here -- the way he conveys hopelessness, guile, and outrage just by shifting his gaze -- is as good as anything you'll see on the big or small screen. . . .
A native of Los Angeles, Carter was a strong athlete in high school, becoming a track star and at one time even considered a career as a professional baseball player. Show business, however, won out. As early as age 12, he performed comedy routines and gravitated toward the clubs as a teenager. After making his TV acting debut in an episode of the NBC series "Police Woman", Carter began a successful career as the opening act comic for such musicians and groups as Gladys Knight & the Pips, James Brown, Kool & the Gang and Patti LaBelle. Concurrently, he began to rack up numerous guest appearances and roles in sitcoms like "Good Times" and "Family Matters" and was featured in several unsold pilots. His first regular series role came as the genie Shabu beholden to a wishy-washy TV reporter in the ABC sitcom "Just Our Luck" (1983-84). Carter later joined the struggling NBC comedy "Punky Brewster" in 1985 as the tiny tot's teacher and was back in the classroom for the Disney Channel's "Good Morning, Miss Bliss" (1988). After several years, he returned to series work as the former roommate of a man who takes in two foster children in the short-lived Fox sitcom "The Sinbad Show" (1993).
Carter made the leap to the big screen in a bit part as a car wash worker in the comedy "Corvette Summer" (1978). He first drew the attention of moviegoers as the chauffeur to Chevy Chase and Goldie Hawn in "Seems Like Old Times" (1980) and as Dan Ayckroyd's assistant in "Doctor Detroit" (1982). In 1985, he provided the comic relief as the station controller in the thriller "Runaway Train", starring with Jon Voight, Eric Roberts and Rebecca DeMornay. Carter then got his first shot at a lead playing a man who dons drag in order to accompany his buddy to Hollywood in the amiable if silly comedy "He's My Girl" (1987). While the film did not exactly elevate the actor to household name status, it did provide an amusing vehicle for his talents. Still, it took "The Corner" to make people aware of his dramatic capabilities. Carter also impressed in his role as the legendary comedian Bill Cosby in "Baadasssss!" (2004), when the comic, very popular with mainstream audiences, comes to the rescue of director Melvin Van Peebles (played by the film's director and Van Peebles' son, Mario) in his effort to shoot what would become the first "blacksploitation" film, "Sweet Sweetback's Baadassss Song" (1971).