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Howard E. Rollins Jr.

Howard Rollins Unveiling at Senator Theater
The Howard E. Rollins, Jr. Foundation hosted the official unveiling of actor and Baltimore native, Howard E. Rollins, Jr. From his home in East Baltimore, to the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, Rollins seemed destined for stardom. Despite his humble beginnings, Rollins attended Towson [State College] and went on to become an accomplished, Academy Award-nominated actor for his role as "Coalhouse Walker, Jr." in EL Doctorow's epic Ragtime.

Other roles followed, including that of "Virgil Tibbs" in In The Heat Of The Night, with veteran actor Carroll O'Connor. Rollin's life was not without problems, however. He was arrested on drug charges, an addiction that lasted several years. According to his sister, Hattie Fields, "The last time Howard took drugs was the last time. He admitted that he was tired; and he just stopped."

His career stalled, but not his popularity. He remains a star in the neighborhood he once called home. Rollins died in 1996 of complications of lymphoma. The Rollins family and the Foundation gathered on October 26, 2006, at Baltimore's venerable Senator Theater to honor him with a wax likeness.

After a documentary, An Evening With Howard, produced by Rollins' longtime friend and mentor, Steve Yeager; after the reception and speeches, the moment of the unveiling arrived.

In the center of the Senator Theater lobby, the cloaked figure of Rollins was finally unveiled. Rollins' mother, Ruth, was visibly moved at the wax likeness of her son. "That's my son," she remarked.
The family and guests crowded around the figure, posing for pictures; congratulating Dr. Joanne Martin, for the wonderful job the Museum did in creating the likeness.

The Howard Rollins wax figure is now on display at The National Great Blacks In Wax Museum, among such greats as Langston Hughes.

Photographed from the top left: The Rollins figure, cloaked; before the unveiling, Dr. Martin with Hattie Fields, Rollins' sister; Rollins' nephew, with Ruth Rollins; Rollins' mother, visibly moved; Ruth Rollins, after the unveiling, helped to her seat by members of her family; Hattie Fields, John Waters and the Rollins figure; Howard Rollins and Dr. Martin; Steve Yeager, who produced the Rollins documentary, and Howard; Honorary Board Member Kweisi Mfume and Hattie Fields; Ruth Rollins, seated and Dr. Martin; John Waters, the evening's keynote speaker and Dr. Martin; Howard Rollins, unveiled; the signage and a poster, featuring the cast of Ragtime.

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