Howard Rollins Howard Ellsworth Rollins Jr. (October 17, 1950 - December 8, 1996) was an African American actor.
Born in Baltimore, Maryland, he studied theater at Towson State College.
He was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Daytime Drama Series for his role on Another World. Rollins was also nominated for the 1981 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in the motion picture, RagTime.
In 1984, he starred in director Norman Jewison's film, A Soldier's Story that led to his role as "Virgil Tibbs" on the In the Heat of the Night television series based on Jewison's acclaimed motion picture of the same name.
In 1993, Rollins spent about a month in jail for driving under the influence and reckless driving. Because of continued legal problems, Rollins was ultimately dropped from In the Heat of the Night and replaced by Carl Weathers. He had brief cameo appearances until he was again in legal trouble, again for driving under the influence. This caused him to be banned from any "In the Heat of the Night" filming location (Newton, Rockdale, Morgan, and Walton counties, Georgia).
In the last years of his life, Rollins worked hard to address his drug and alcohol problems and began to rebuild his career. He appeared in the TV shows "New York Undercover" and "Remember WENN," in the PBS film "Harambee," and in the theatrical film "Drunks." His superb acting throughout his career inspired subsequent generations of African American actors, playwrights, and filmmakers.
Howard Rollins died in 1996 after complications from lymphoma and was interred in the Woodlawn Cemetery in his native Baltimore. He had been diagnosed with the condition approximately six weeks earlier.