Charles S. Dutton has been through a lot in his quest for greatness. After spending nearly eight years in prison for the crime of manslaughter, he quickly made the transition to Hollywood. The inspiring life of this icon.
Charles S. Dutton’s outstanding acting on various TV shows and movies has won many admirers. The 70-year-old veteran actor is best known for his character Roc Emerson, a good-natured Baltimore trash worker trying to make life better for himself and his family in the 1991 TV series, “Roc.”
Apart from the three-season sitcom, the star actor was also recognized for his distinguished performance in the 1990 play, “The Piano Lesson,” which earned him a Tony Award nomination for Best Actor.
Dutton is a talented actor, but his directing skills are also very commendable. Many admire him for his directing skills in a drama series close to his heart, “The Corner.”
The movie earned him his first Emmy nomination, which he eventually won. He thanked the cast and other people who made the series successful while giving his speech.
LIFE IN PRISON
The Hollywood icon’s life may appear to be glamorous, but he has been through his fair share of struggles on his road to success.
Dutton was the middle child among three siblings. His parents had a difficult marriage and Dutton was only five years old when his mom and dad divorced. His truck driver father, Sutton, took custody of his children and made sure they had a happy life.
Dutton, who has nicknamed Roc as a child, got involved in neighborhood rock fights. He loved leading riots and often sustained injuries to his head, which led him to the name “Rockhead.” His nickname was shortened to Roc when he began boxing as an amateur.
When Dutton was only 16 years old, he got into a fight, which started a conflict. The teenage boxer was trained and Dutton ended up killing his opponent.
Soon after, he was brought before the court to face charges of manslaughter. Dutton was sentenced to five years imprisonment at Jessup correctional institution, Maryland.
Dutton was sentenced to five years in prison. He was then released. Dutton was also charged with robbery, and weapons charges. Dutton continued his rebellious lifestyle in prison. He got into a fight and was sentenced to solitary confinement for his actions.
Dutton’s experience in solitary confinement was a terrible one. Dutton was kept in a 5-by-7-foot cell without a sink or bed.
Prison officers would often flood the cell with sewage through a hole. Prisoners in isolation were given only one book and food every three days.
THE BOOK THAT CHANGED DUTTON’S LIFE
While serving his punishment in isolation, a book of plays sent by a girlfriend on the outside kept the actor busy. He was an avid reader who mainly read leftist literature. He accidentally took the book of plays as he was being taken to isolation. The book was a life-changing experience that changed his whole life.
After reading one of the plays, “Day of Absence” by Douglas Turner Ward, Dutton was intrigued and developed an interest in staging a drama troupe.
He was eventually released from prison after spending several years. He was admitted to Towson University where he received a degree in Theater Arts.
LIFE AFTER PRISON
Shortly after his graduation, Dutton sought to know more, and with advice from his drama coach, he applied to Yale drama school and was accepted. His love for theatre eventually led him to Hollywood, landing roles in many movies and series, including “Roc.”
Often Dutton was asked about the secret to his change and he explained it was not related to rehabilitation but discovering his humanity and realizing that everyone had a short time to live. He has ignored negative comments and gotten inspiration from Hollywood pressure.
Being more experienced in stage acting, Dutton once revealed he had jitters when filming the first episode of “Roc.” He had doubts about receiving directions from the series’ directors and needed more advice on being a good TV actor. He said,
“I guess they are used to TV actors. Stage actors need advice. They give you the jokes and the set-up. You are out there on your own.”
At some point, the director questioned his choice of signing a TV contract, but he believed his role on “Roc” was a stepping stone to greatness.
According to Dutton, he had no intentions of coming to Hollywood to be an ordinary actor who was doing financially well, but he wanted more. Dutton tried to take advantage of the opportunities to start his own production company.
After appearing on “Roc,” Dutton bagged other acting roles in movies like “Rudy,” “A Time To Kill,” “Menace II,” and “Powers,” where he served as Captain Cross, the head of a homicide department. Dutton was also a keen observer of the production and direction of shows.
DUTTON’S MARRIAGE TO MORGAN
Apart from his onscreen performances, Dutton was also known for his previous union with American actress Debbie Morgan. They were married in 1989. However, after five years of blissful marital bliss, they split.
Irrespective of their split and differences, Morgan still spoke highly of Dutton during interviews. Once as a guest on OWN, she spoke candidly about what attracted her to the actor, despite his criminal records.
The “All My Children” star noted that when she became aware of the life Dutton had led, she found it seductive. Unfortunately, their marriage didn’t last. Morgan shared a shocking revelation about the reason they divorced. She noted that Dutton said to her:
“I never could have made you happy because I’m not worth it to be anybody’s husband.”
Despite his criminal records, Dutton loved his ex-wife, and as confirmed by Morgan, he was never physically abusive.