Actor Bill Nunn, a regular in friend Spike Lee’s films and best known as the towering, boombox-toting Radio Raheem in “Do The Right Thing,” died Saturday morning. He was 63.
The 6-foot-3 Nunn — who also appeared in Lee’s “School Daze,” “Mo’ Better Blues” and “He Got Game” — passed away in his hometown of Pittsburgh, Lee announced via Facebook. Both were Morehouse College alums, with Nunn graduating in 1976.
“Long Live Bill Nunn,” posted Lee. “Radio Raheem is now resting in power. Radio Raheem will always be fighting da powers dat be. May God watch over Bill Nunn.”
Across a career that spanned nearly three decades, the versatile Nunn appeared with Harrison Ford in “Regarding Henry,” Whoopi Goldberg in “Sister Act,” Al Pacino in “Lockdown” and Tobey Maguire in the “Spider-Man” trilogy.
He also memorably played Duh Duh Duh Man, the drug gang enforcer and personal bodyguard to Wesley Snipes’ Nino Brown character in the 1991 film “New Jack City.”
Nunn was featured in the 2004 Broadway revival of “Raisin In The Sun” with Sean Combs and Audra McDonald, and was cast in three television series — “Traps” with George C. Scott, a sitcom titled “Local Heroes” and “The Job” with Denis Leary.
The 6-foot-3 Nunn wore matched brass knuckles marked “LOVE” and “HATE” as Raheem, whose boombox blared Public Enemy’s “Fight The Power” as he walked through Bedford-Stuyvesant.
The character dies from a police chokehold during a brawl outside the local pizzeria. The 1989 movie classic was his second collaboration with Lee after his major movie debut in “School Daze.”
“‘School Daze’ was one of the highlights of my life because it was the first chance I had to act on screen,” he once said. “I would have been happy if that had been it, because I proved that I could do it.”
Nunn helped establish the August Wilson Monologue competition in Pittsburgh, where students performed to win acting scholarships.
His father, also named Bill Nunn, was a renowned scout for the Pittsbugh Steelers who became known for helping integrate the team’s roster. He was credited for bringing in players like John Stallworth, Mel Blount and Joe Gilliam.