Charlie Robinson, whose five-decade acting career included playing series mainstay Mac Robinson the court clerk on Night Court, died on Sunday in Los Angeles due to cardiac arrest and cancer complications, as Variety reports. He was 75.
Starring in numerous TV, film and theater productions, Robinson’s enduring role was as Mac Robinson on Night Court, which he joined in 1984 for Season Two and portrayed through the rest of its nine-season run. His first recurring role before portraying Mac was in primetime soap opera Flamingo Road, and in 1983 he starred in the short-lived comedy sitcom Buffalo Bill.
After Night Court wrapped in 1992, he was cast in a series regular role for Love & War, which lasted for three seasons. In addition to his longterm roles, he appeared as a regular in a number of series, including Home Improvement, Mom, and Hart of Dixie, alongside guesting on a variety of popular shows, including The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Key and Peele, The Bernie Mac Show and How I Met Your Mother.
While he made his mark on television, he also appeared in a bevy of films throughout his career, including Sugar Hill, The Black Gestapo, Caribe, A Killing Affair, The White Shadow, Beowulf, Land of the Free, and Mercy Street.
He got his start in the entertainment world in the Sixties as a singer and acting in theater. He performed as a teenager in the groups Archie Bell and the Drells and Southern Clouds of Joy. In the late Sixties he enrolled in Chris Wilson’s acting school Studio 7 at the Houston Music Theatre.
Robinson garnered accolades for his theater performances, including the Image Theatre Award and FRED Award for playing Simon in a theater production of The Whipping Man and a Best Actor Ovation Award for portraying Troy in Fences.
Robinson recently starred opposite The Wire star Wendell Pierce in the filmed live theater performance of James Anthony Taylor’s Some Old Black Men, which was filmed in Detroit after a three-week quarantine.
“We had a mission to find a way to create our art while the world was shut down,” Pierce wrote in a tribute to Robinson via Twitter. “By chance, we created a friendship in 27 days that only happens with a shared vision. In that short time he became mentor to me as I questioned if my best days had passed. By example he showed hope.”
It only took 27 days and we created a lifetime. Charlie Robinson and I quarantined together during this pandemic to create a play and in that short time we created a lifetime of friendship. A special bond, like the father and son, we portrayed in the play. We had a mission. pic.twitter.com/hztMWY4J1W
— Wendell Pierce (@WendellPierce) July 13, 2021