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Actor In ‘Baretta’ And Ralph Bakshi’s ‘American Pop’ Was 83

Ron Thompson, a veteran character actor best known for his role in Ralph Bakshi’s rotoscope film American Pop and his 1970s TV series portrayal of Detective Nopke in Baretta, died Saturday at age 83 in Los Angeles. No cause was given by Professor Rel Dowdell of Hampton University, who confirmed the death.

Thompson had a brief career as a rock singer in the 1960s and wrote and recorded a number of singles as Ronnie Thompson.

He also originated the role of Shanty Mulligan in the Pulitzer Prize winning play No Place to Be Somebody by Charles Gordone. He also won the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award for his 1973 lead performance in the play Does a Tiger Wear a Necktie?

Born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1941, Ron, his older brother, and parents moved to Miami, Florida in ’45. Ron began to show talents as a singer/performer at an early age, which led to him performing in kiddie shows. In his early teens, he saw Marlon Brando in On the Waterfront. With only $200, he set out for New York.

Two years later, he was acting opposite Robert Duval on the live TV drama, Armstrong Circle Theater. At the same time, he had begun a singing career and had a record out. Over the next two years, he had two records released, but neither were hits.

In ’72, he joined the cast of the Henry Fonda revival, The Time of Your Life. By then, he had moved to L.A.

In the next 25 years, he could be seen guesting on numerous television shows.

“Mr. Ron Thompson was a very versatile and talented character actor in all genres,” said Professor Dowdell, director of film studies at Hampton University, “as well as a true and diligent student of the comprehensive craft of acting and all of its nuances. He was a very congenial man with a warm and giving spirit, and was well-respected by many luminaries in the film and television industries.”

Thompson was married to actress Diane Sommerfield, who died in 2001.

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