Hollywood has lost one of its pioneers.
Earl Cameron, the Bermuda-born British actor who famously appeared in roles spanning from Pool of London to Inception, died Friday, his family confirmed to E! News. The star was 102 years old.
"Earl Cameron CBE passed away peacefully on 03 July 2020 at his home in Kenilworth, Warwickshire, surrounded by his wife and family," a statement read. "His family have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and respect they have received. He was a man who stood by his moral principles and was inspirational. His deep commitment to the Baha'i Faith and the oneness of humanity informed all his choices. As an artist and actor he refused to accept roles that demeaned or stereotyped the character of people of colour. He will be sadly missed."
After years of theater work, Cameron rose to fame in his first film, the 1951 Pool of London, in which he played a leading role as a merchant sailor who falls in love with a white woman. According to The Telegraph, it was the "first major role for a Black actor in a British mainstream film."
"First British film to show a mixed-race relationship," he told The Guardian with a shrug in 2017. "But it felt natural to me. It felt like real life."
Cameron told The Telegraph that same year, "I didn't feel like I was breaking barriers at the time, it never occurred to me. It felt natural."
He further acknowledged to the newspaper, "Certainly I was aware that films didn't at that time have any romantic scenes between Blacks and whites. It was unusual for a Black actor to have the romantic lead."
Cameron went on to appear in dozens of movies and TV shows, including Sapphire, Thunderball, Dr. Who, and more recently, The Queen, The Interpreter and Inception.
However, regarding the barriers Cameron faced, he told The Guardian, "Unless it was specified that this was a part for a black actor, they would never consider a black actor for the part. And they would never consider changing a white part to a black part. So that was my problem. I got mostly small parts, and that was extremely frustrating—not just for me but for other black actors. We had a very hard time getting worthwhile roles."
In 2009, he was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire, presented to him by Prince Charles.
"Giant Man," British actor Paterson Joseph tweeted of Cameron. "His generation's pioneering shoulders are what my generation of actors stand on. No shoulders were broader than this gentleman with the voice of god and the heart of a kindly prince. RIP Earl Cameron."