This week Natasha Oakley inducts Academy Award winning actor Denzel Washington into our Pink Heart Society roll call of inspirational men.
Denzel Hayes Washington Jr. was born in Mount Vernon, New York on 28th December, 1954, the middle child of three children. What an awfully uncomfortable Christmas Mrs Washington must have had that year.
His dad, also called Denzel (apparently named after Dr Denzel who delivered him) was a Pentecostal minister and his mum, Lennis, a beauty parlor owner raised in Harlem. At the age of 14 our Denzel was sent away to boarding school to avoid the fallout from his parents’ failing marriage.
After high school he went to Fordham University intending to pursue a career in journalism but, having caught the acting bug, he enrolled at the American Conservatory Theater immediately after he graduated. One year later he left and started work as an actor.
His first big film role was in ‘Carbon Copy’. That year after, 1982, he won the role of Dr Chandler in NBC’s ‘St Elsewhere’. Being this side of the pond I’ve never seen that but he played that role for 6 years so it’s quite possible you have.
1989 was the year in which he played Trip, the runaway slave, in ‘Glory’, the movie which one him a ‘Best Supporting Actor’ Oscar. 1992 he was nominated again for his performance as Malcolm X. I fell in love with him as Gray Grantham in ‘The Pelican Brief’. Who wouldn’t feel safe with a man who looked at you like that???
1993 was a bit of a bumper year imo. Not only did he play Gray Grantham, he was also Joe Miller in ‘Philadelphia’ and Don Pedro of Aragon in ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ (and you know how much I like my Shakespeare. Note to Trish – you need to watch that because Keanu Reeves plays his half brother!).
The 1990s were busy with far too many films to mention here. From a financial point of view the most notable was ‘Courage Under Fire’ in 1996. Denzel was paid $10 million! In 2001 came his second Oscar winning performance – Detective Alonzo Harris in ‘Training Day’. In 2002 he made his directorial debut with ‘Antwone Fisher’.
He’s a respectable 6ft tall, called ‘D’ by his friends and is, as you can see completely gorgeous. But married. Very married. There have been rumours about difficulties in the Washington marriage but these have been fiercely denied. The fact remains he married Pauletta Pearson in 1983 and they have four children together. Eldest son John David, born 1984, signed as a running back with the St Louis Rams last year. Daughter Katia, born 1987, is at Yale. Then there are twins Malcom (named after his character Malcom X) and Oliva, born in 1991.
His quote of note: ‘Acting is just a way of making a living, the family is life.’ Sounds like a hero to me!
This July saw the start of a brand-new series - The Royal House of Niroli.
The Mediterranean island of Niroli has prospered for centuries under the Fierezza men. But now, as the King’s health declines, and his 2 sons have been tragically killed, the crown is in jeopardy. Who will rule?
Book 2 of the series, Melanie Milburne's 'Surgeon Prince, Ordinary Wife', is out in NA and UK right now!.
Natasha's book, 'The Tycoon's Princess Bride' will be in the shops in October but if you don't want to wait it's possible to buy the entire set right now by clicking here.