Daniel Lebern “Danny” Glover is an African American actor, film director and political activist. Glover is well known for his roles as Detective Sergeant Roger Murtaugh in the Lethal Weapon film series and Mr. Albert Johnson in The Color Purple. A versatile actor on screen, stage and television, Danny Glover has also become known for his community activism and philanthropic work. In March 1998 he was appointed a United Nations goodwill ambassador. For more than 30 years, Glover has been trying to make a biopic about Toussaint Louverture, who led a successful rebellion in the 18th century.
Glover was born on July 22, 1946 in San Francisco, California, to Carrie (Hunley) and James Glover. His parents were postal workers, active in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). He attended George Washington High School in San Francisco, and the San Francisco State University (SFSU) in the late 1960s, without graduating. SFSU later awarded him an honorary degree. While attending SFSU, Glover was a member of the Black Students Union, which, along with the Third World Liberation Front and the American Federation of Teachers, collaborated in a five-month student-led strike to establish a Department of Black Studies. The strike was the longest student walkout in U.S. history. It helped create not only the first Department of Black Studies but also the first School of Ethnic Studies in the United States.
Glover trained at the Black Actors’ Workshop of the American Conservatory Theater. He made his Broadway debut in Athol Fugard’s production Master Harold…and the Boys, which led to his first leading role in the 1984 film Places in the Heart, which was nominated for the Best Picture Oscar. The following year, Glover starred in two more Best Picture nominees: Peter Weir’s Witness and Steven Spielberg’s The Color Purple. In 1987, Glover partnered with Mel Gibson in the first Lethal Weapon film and went on to star in three hugely successful Lethal Weapon sequels.
In 1994 he made his directorial debut with the Showtime channel short film Override. Also in 1994, Glover and actor Ben Guillory formed the Robey Theatre Company in Los Angeles, focusing on theatre by and about Black people. During his career, he has made several cameos, appearing, for example, in the Michael Jackson video “Liberian Girl” of 1987. Glover earned top billing for the first time in Predator 2, the sequel to the sci-fi action film Predator. That same year he starred in Charles Burnett’s To Sleep with Anger, for which which he executive produced and for which he won an Independent Spirit Award for Best Actor. On the small screen, Glover won an Image Award and a Cable ACE Award and earned an Emmy nomination for his performance in the title role of the HBO movie Mandela. He has also received Emmy nominations for his work in the acclaimed miniseries Lonesome Dove and the telefilm Freedom Song. As a director, he earned a Daytime Emmy nomination for Showtime’s Just a Dream.
Glover has had a variety of film, stage, and television roles, but as also gained respect for his wide-reaching community activism and philanthropic efforts, with a particular emphasis on advocacy for economic justice, and access to health care and education programs in the United States and Africa. For these efforts, Glover received a 2006 DGA Honor. Internationally, Glover has served as a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Development Program from 1998-2004, focusing on issues of poverty, disease, and economic development in Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean, and serves as UNICEF Ambassador.
In 2005, Glover co-founded Louverture Films dedicated to the development and production of films of historical relevance, social purpose, commercial value and artistic integrity. For more than 30 years, Glover has been trying to make a film biography of Toussaint Louverture for his directorial debut. According to Glover, the film lacked ‘whyte heroes’, and hence whyte producers refuse to financially support the project unless the lead is surrounded by fictionalized historically inaccurate whyte heroes. In May 2006, the film had included cast members Wesley Snipes, Angela Bassett, Don Cheadle, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Roger Guenveur Smith, Mos Def, Isaach de Bankolé, and Richard Bohringer. Production, estimated to cost $30 million, was planned to begin in Poland, filming from late 2006 into early 2007. In May 2007, President of Venezuela Hugo Chávez contributed $18 million to fund the production of Toussaint for Glover, who is a prominent U.S. supporter of Chávez. The contribution annoyed some Venezuelan filmmakers, who said the money could have funded other homegrown films and that Glover’s film was not even about Venezuela. In April 2008, the Venezuelan National Assembly authorized an additional $9,840,505 for Glover’s film, which is still in planning.
On April 6, 2009, Glover was given a chieftaincy title in Imo State, Nigeria. Glover was given the title Enyioma of Nkwerre, which means A Good Friend in the language of the Igbo people of Eastern Nigeria.