East Harlem’s James A. Luisi 1928 – 2002

002ade24_mediumJames A. Luisi was born on November 2, 1928, in Harlem, he was an American professional basketball player and actor. Luisi is perhaps best known for his role as Lt. Doug Chapman during Seasons 3 through 6 of the television series The Rockford Files.

Born in East Harlem, New York City, Luisi attended St. Francis College on a basketball scholarship before being drafted by the Boston Celtics in the sixth round of the 1951 N.B.A. draft. After serving in the US Army during the Korean War, he played with the Baltimore Bullets for one year in the 1953-54 season. At 6’2″ and 180 lb, he played guard for 31 games and averaged 3 points a game. Luisi then attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, and appeared on Broadway in productions of Alfie and Do I Hear a Waltz?, and the original 1966 production of Sweet Charity.

Luisi went on to appear in various television programs such as Naked City, Adam-12, The Rookies, Kojak and Barnaby Jones. In 1976, he shared a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Actor in a Daytime Drama Special for his portrayal of George Washington in the 1975 miniseries First Ladies Diaries: Martha Washington. After his Emmy win, Luisi had guest roles on Matt Houston, Days of Our Lives, L.A. Law and Silk Stalkings. He also had roles in several films including Norma Rae (1979) and Star 80 (1983).

Luisi died of cancer in 2002. He is buried in Pierce Brothers Valhalla Memorial Park.

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