I’m about to admit something that will make me sound clueless, but here goes. I’ve always liked the actor who played the big, bald, thorn-fingered genie in Michael Powell, Alexander Korda and William Cameron MenziesThe Thief of Bagdad (’40). And I’ve always liked the guy who played the dignified, well-mannered assistant to Ronald Colman‘s Michael Lightcap in George StevensThe Talk of the Town (’42). But until this morning I never realized they were one and the same guy — Rex Ingram.

Rex Ingram as Tilney, the assistant to Ronald Colman’s Michael Lightcap in George Stevens’ The Talk of the Town.

In The Thief of Bagdad.

I was thinking about Ingram yesterday when I realized he’d played a preacher in The Green Pastures, which Armond White mentioned in his review of Black Panther.

Ingram (1895-1969) was a respected stage actor as well as a Hollywood guy. He made his Broadway debut in ’29 and performed in his final play, Kwamina, in ’61. His Wikipage says he “became the first African-American actor to be hired for a contract role on a soap opera, when he appeared on The Brighter Day. He had other minor work in television in the ’60s, appearing in an episode each of I Spy and The Bill Cosby Show, both of which starred Bill Cosby, who allegedly used his influence to help Ingraham land the roles.

“Shortly after filming a guest spot on the Cosby Show, Ingram died of a heart attack at the age of 73.”